The dawn of a new NFL season is finally upon us! After the longest off-season in professional American sports, football fans can finally rest easy knowing that their favorite stars will take the field for the next 17+ weeks.
With a few perennial exceptions, each fan base can and should be excited about the upcoming season. Through the draft, free agency, retirement, and trades, each team is different than the year before— and it is the goal of each franchise to improve through these changes.
I feel that it can be helpful, perhaps humorous, and potentially therapeutic to create a 2017 time capsule for us to open on the eve of meaningful football next year. This is a place for YOU to leave a comment or three with your thoughts on the franchise, your expectations of the coming season, and how things feel in this moment in time.
Whether or not the Los Angeles Chargers improve in 2017 compared to their 2016 campaign, as widely expected, this time capsule is planted during a pivotal time of the franchise. It can prove quite interesting to see the reaction and expectations of a fanbase that has been through one of the most tumultuous off-season campaigns in the sport’s history.
In my own opinion, the 2017 season brings much-needed hope. The draft did not provide much reason to expect dramatic change, which is not to say that the LA Chargers drafted poorly. Injuries have again thwarted the best-laid plans of mice and men. The move from San Diego is going to be an elephant in the room all season and beyond, and the size of Stub Hub stadium will likely be a punchline for several seasons to come. However, the change from Mike McCoy to Anthony Lynn can and I believe will change everything that Chargers fans have come to expect from a season. No more accepting mediocrity by embracing incredibly conservative play calling, no more blathering platitudes at the podium after each game but rather pointed discourse and meaningful responses, and a genuine change in a team identity that had become complacent with mediocre seasons.
The LA Chargers were unstoppable during the pre-season when the 1st team offense was on the field. There is every reason to believe that they will be a force to be reckoned with during the regular season. In fact, based on everything that I have seen and read about this team, they are true sleepers that should shock their way into the playoffs with a 10-6 campaign.
Feelings on the Franchise:
The move from San Diego to Los Angeles was more damaging to the franchise identity and fan base than I believe metrics could ever truly tell. Whether seats remain open or filled throughout the season, 2017 will be the year where previous fans will either jeer in a Serves-Them-Right sort of schadenfreude or they will renew their allegiance based on a surprising run of good, underdog football from the Chargers.
Right now, there is so much anger and resentment toward the franchise and its administration that I believe only a competent and winning season would open the door to many former fans and friends embracing the team again.
The LA Chargers are making good moves to prepare for the eventual departure of Philip Rivers, even if it’s too early to appoint an heir-apparent. Joey Bosa is very much the “real thing,” and there are many good future seasons to expect his impact. The running game is strong, but we’ll see if it is resilient this year.
Odds and Ends:
The Chargers are currently seen as a sort of novelty around the NFL. Philip Rivers’ new 40-inch screen for his commutes to LA make for fun anecdotes that every team’s fans can appreciate. The incredibly small Stub Hub arena is absolutely a unique venue for teams to travel to. Younghoe Koo currently is the darling of every video watcher, as his (insane) backflip field goal makes its rounds through the internet. A rookie head coach, an elite QB with no rings, a town with no awareness that it has two new teams— the LA Chargers have made an incredible transformation since January.
To my complete and utter surprise, the Chargers have, through quirk and memorable character above all, changed their narrative from ruthless money-grabbing franchise to the likable sideshow that anyone could appreciate. They still have a lot of work ahead to win over their new home city (and recoup as much of their old as they can), but there is every reason for fans of the LA Chargers to be excited about this coming NFL season. We’ll see how well they were received when this time capsule is dug up in mid-2018.
-Goro “Keep Digging That Hole” Saurus