The 2016 NFL season was a rough one for Chargers fans.
For a brief period of time, it looked like things might finally have fallen into place for the Chargers. They were 21-3 up on a strong Chiefs team and looking every bit like a legitimate contender for a deep playoff run.
Four months later, the San Diego Chargers bolted town, with a 5-11 record being a sad reminder of the team's ineptitude as the door swung shut on football in San Diego.
Here's the good news: If you're a Chargers fan who's sticking with the team in their move to Los Angeles, you're going to absolutely love the Chargers 2017 NFL campaign. There's almost no situation in which they could leave you disappointed at the end of the year.
This is a talented Chargers team. The fact that they have just 9 wins over the last two years is a testament to the awful coaching that's plagued the Chargers, as well as their horrendous injury luck. They still have some holes to fill (or, more accurately, paper over) - namely the OL and at safety - but, on paper, you'd be hard pressed to argue that this isn't a team capable of making the playoffs next season. After 4-12 and 5-11, getting back into the playoffs - even if they were to then be eliminated in the wildcard round - would constitute a successful season.
However, there's every chance it may not work out like that. The Chargers have shown over the last two seasons that they are more than capable of playing down to their competition (the Browns... seriously?). I can't pretend that I'd be surprised were the Chargers to finish with a 4-12 record in the 2017 NFL season.
But you know what? That's just fine by me too.
As a passionate Chargers fan, nothing would make me happier than seeing the team return to the postseason in 2017. That's clearly the ideal situation. If that doesn't happen, however, I'll be perfectly fine with watching Dean Spanos get humiliated after stabbing San Diego in the back (and then taking the knife out, plunging it in again, taking it out...).
Here's the thing: The Chargers have an absolutely tiny fanbase in Los Angeles. They’re playing at by far the smallest stadium in the NFL for the next couple of years and there's every chance that they don't fill it. There's only one way for them to expand that fanbase.
They need to win. They need to win now.
The LA Rams are by no means a good team. If the Chargers can start winning from Day 1, they're going to be just fine in terms of fan support from a moderately fairweather city. Why bother watching the Rams struggle to a 4-12 season when you can watch Philip Rivers carve up opposing defenses every week?
What if the Chargers don't have more success on the field in LA than they did in San Diego? It's going to be a complete disaster - and I'll be there watching every moment with a grin on my face.
From a financial standpoint, losing isn't going to hurt Dean Spanos too much. The franchise will still be worth a lot more in L.A. than it was in San Diego. But, despite the way he may have acted over the last few years, Dean Spanos cares about more than money.
Dean Spanos is a proud man. (I'm not sure what exactly he's accomplished in life that is there to be proud of, but I digress). When the other NFL owners went behind his back to demolish his plan to build a stadium in Carson with the Raiders, Spanos was humiliated. The other NFL owners wanted to keep the Chargers in San Diego, but Spanos was now a man on a mission. There was no way he was bowing down to the will of the men who had just helped to embarrass him on a national scale. The Chargers were gone from San Diego a long time ago - we just didn't know it.
The San Diego media always treated the Chargers with a lot more respect than they deserved. That won't happen in Los Angeles. If the Chargers have a bad 2017 season with the talent they have on their roster, the media are going to crucify them. That doesn't just mean the players, either. That means the coaches - and the people who hired the coaches. That goes to the very top. Dean Spanos will finally have his incompetence called out into the open.
I might still support the Chargers, but that doesn't mean I support the ownership. I despise Dean Spanos. If the Chargers can't have a winning season next year, I’ll be perfectly content reading article after article from the national media about how shockingly awful the franchise is run.
Dean Spanos has run the Chargers into the ground for long enough with terrible decisions. In 2017, that stops. If Dean Spanos has once again failed to put together a winning product, he's going to face the consequences - and I can't wait.
Does anybody have any popcorn?