Training camp is just around the corner, and with off-season additions just about complete and rosters almost set, we preview the opponents the San Diego Chargers will be facing this season. Each team has made different moves in order to improve their roster, and this series will help you become more familiar with each opponent.
In other words, KNOW YOUR ENEMY...
The 2013 Jacksonville Jaguars finished 4-12 under first year Head Coach Gus Bradley, with both their offensive and defensive units ranking in the bottom five of the league, while their first win did not come until week 10. The Jaguars hoped to add talent across the board this off-season, after such a start to this new regime, however, with young players at key positions, this team could be facing another year of growing pains.
Offensively, the Jaguars struggled a lot last year, ranking 32nd in the league in points scored, and 31st in total yards, according to Pro Football Reference. The lone bright spot, Justin Blackmon, was suspended indefinitely after compiling 29 receptions and 415 in only four games. Maurice Jones-Drew struggled to regain his footing after having missing most of 2013 with injury, and is no longer on the team. With several new pieces on the offensive side of the ball, this unit isn't a candidate for most improved.
Defensively, Bradley has molded this defense into something that resembles the one Seattle trots out every Sunday, especially with the additions to their defensive line. Paul Posluszny is still a force at the middle linebacker position, while safety Jonathan Cyprien is expected to flourish in his second year. Pro Football Reference ranked this unit 28th in points allowed and 27th in yards allowed last year, but with their new additions, they have the opportunity to be the bright spot on this team this year.
Additions: Chris Clemons, Red Bryant, Ziggy Hood, Toby Gerhart, Zane Beadles, Tandon Doss, Dekoda Watson
Losses: Maurice Jones-Drew, Justin Blackmon (suspended indefinitely)
The Jaguars went out and basically got themselves a new defensive line this off-season with their free-agent additions. Clemons, Bryant, and Hood all bring a physical presence to this defense, along with two of them already familiar with the system Bradley runs. Toby Gerhart is expected to be the main ball-carrier for this team, and with a career average of 4.7 yards per carry, the expectations are high. His addition, along with Zane Beadles, could be a major step in establishing an identity on offense for this team.
3. Blake Bortles QB Central Florida
39. Marqise Lee WR USC
61. Allen Robinson WR Penn State
93. Brandon Linder G Miami
114. Aaron Colvin CB Oklahoma
144. Telvin Smith ILB Florida State
159. Chris Smith DE Arkansas
205. Luke Bowanko C Virginia
222. Storm Johnson RB Central Florida
The Jacksonville Jaguars created the first surprise of this year's draft when they took Blake Bortles with the 3rd overall pick. He will be sitting to start the year, as Chad Henne is expected to start, but pairing Bortles with two talented wide-outs in Marqise Lee and Allen Robinson could lead to big things for this offense down the road.
Overall, this team has the potential to become great on both sides of the ball with all of their additions this off-season, however, they understand that this is a process, as it seems like this team is looking more towards the future, rather than this year.
The Chargers defense will be facing a very young offense, so this could bode well for the Bolts. Even though the offensive line for the Jaguars is much improved from a year ago, if the defense can find a way to shut down Gerhart and the Jags' running game, while applying pressure to Henne, their offense might have a difficult time getting into any sort of rhythm.
The game between these two teams last year saw the Chargers dominate on both sides of the ball, with a final score of 24-6. Philip Rivers had one of his best games of the year against them, going 22 for 26 for 285 yards and a touchdown, while Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead combined for 186 yards and two touchdowns.
If the offense is able to have similar results this time around, after facing three tough defenses to start the year, this match-up could be one that gets the offense charged up for the rest of the season, especially with the upcoming divisional games.