All the pieces appear to be in place for a Super Bowl LIV run by the Los Angeles Chargers. But must this team get it done this upcoming season?
It was a classic case of a team picking up where it left off the previous year. The Los Angeles Chargers won nine of the final 12 games in 2017 after opening the Anthony Lynn Era with four consecutive losses. The club would fall short of the playoffs but came back this past season with a vengeance.
Led by veteran quarterback Philip Rivers and one of the most talented rosters in the league, the Bolts finished with 12 victories this past season and reached the postseason for the first time since 2013. A wild card win at Baltimore put the Chargers in Foxborough for the divisional round, but Lynn’s squad put up little fight against the eventual Super Bowl champion Patriots.
But 2019 is right around the corner and this is a team that appears to not only like its chances to return to the playoffs but do some further damage this time around. It was a very quiet offseason for general manager Tom Telesco in terms of free agency. The big pickups were outside linebacker Thomas Davis and backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The franchise drafted one player in each round of April’s draft and stuck with their own original selections. And the losses were minimal, with wide receiver Tyrell Williams and oft-injured cornerback Jason Verrett the headliners.
So can this team seize the moment this season? This looks like the balanced team in the AFC West. The Kansas City Chiefs have won three straight division titles but are starting over on defense. The Denver Broncos have a new head coach (Vic Fangio) and starting quarterback (Joe Flacco). And the Oakland Raiders have once again brought in a slew of new players. If not now, when?
It’s worth noting that this team, especially on offense, could look a lot differently a year from now. Via Spotrac, Rivers (entering his 16th NFL season), running back Melvin Gordon, tight end Hunter Henry and veteran center Mike Pouncey could all become unrestricted free agents in 2020. That’s a lot of talent that Telesco is going to have to make some decisions on over the next few months. Meanwhile, can the Chargers return to South Florida 25 years after their lone Super Bowl appearance (XXIX)? The window is wide open at the moment, but…