The Los Angeles Chargers will get a head start on their offseason plans after failing to make the playoffs in their first year under Anthony Lynn.
After starting 0-4, its hard to complain about a 9-7 finish. Los Angeles showed fight and gave themselves a chance to make the playoffs heading into the final week of the season.
It’s now time to look forward to the offseason. The Draft and free agency is right around the corner and it is now time to begin the preparation.
First, the Bolts need to look at their needs. Having a plan to address the team’s most glaring weaknesses *cough* kicker *cough*.
One of the main reasons that Los Angeles failed to make the postseason was their horrendous kicking game. The Bolts ran through five kickers and it cost them multiple victories.
General manager Tom Telesco needs to find a reliable kicker. The Chargers made a putrid 65 percent of their field goals, which was easily the worst mark in the NFL.
Frankly, the issue should have been settled during the season, but Telesco needs to find an answer via free agency or the draft.
On paper, the Chargers should have three offensive line positions solidified. Russell Okung will be the left tackle and Dan Feeney will likely be next to him at left guard. 2017 second-round pick Forrest Lamp should also be returning from an ACL injury. Lamp can slide in at right tackle or guard.
The three remaining spots could use an upgrade. Spencer Pulley and Kenny Wiggins hindered the rushing attack all year. Joe Barksdale should be on his way out as a mixture of injuries, penalties, and inconsistent play have made his strong 2015 campaign feel like it happened a lifetime ago.
The offensive line made huge strides when it came to the protection of Philip Rivers. Los Angeles gave up a league-best 18 sacks. Rivers hasn’t been sacked under 20 times in his career. A big improvement over the 36 they allowed in 2016.
Problems arose when the Bolts took to the ground. Melvin Gordon didn’t get much momentum up front and even though he was one of the league’s top rushers, Gordon could have done so much more.
Interior Defensive line
Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa will cause problems for opposing offenses for years to come, but the Los Angeles defensive line is far from a complete unit. On the inside, Los Angeles was shredded as they boasted the second-worst run defense in the NFL.
Allowing 131.4 yards per game, the Chargers lived with team’s running the ball down their throat. Los Angeles’ defense was very good in 2017, but the addition of a few run stuffers could put them over the top.
Next season, Corey Liuget and Brandon Mebane will make a combined $15 million according to spotrac.com. Neither of those players is worth that commitment. Liuget has been awful since signing his massive extension and Mebane will be 33 in a week. Dumping both of their contracts may be worthwhile. Especially if the Chargers decide to address this need in the draft.
Probably the worst unit for the Chargers in 2017 was their linebackers. Denzel Perryman was phenomenal, but injuries kept him sidelined for the majority of the season. Jatavis Brown took a major step back as well. This put more pressure on Hayes Pullard, Kyle Emanuel, and Korey Toomer. The trio simply couldn’t handle that many snaps and it hurt Gus Bradley’s defense all year.
Adding a sure tackler at middle linebacker next to Perryman could solve a ton of problems along the front seven. Demario Davis and Zach Brown are two upcoming free agents that racked up 100+ tackles in 2017, they may be options that won’t cost a fortune.
After rebuilding the Los Angeles defense, Gus Bradley may find himself another head coaching job in 2018. Veteran offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt should also garner some interest.
Regardless of what issues the fan base may have with Los Angeles’ coordinators, a change could cause problems. The Chargers just switched to a 4-3 defensive scheme and have had some stability on offense under Whisenhunt. The loss of both coordinators could cause big problems for a younger roster.
The Quarterback Dilemma
Philip Rivers put together another solid season. He had his lowest interception total since 2008 and caught fire during the Chargers late-season run. Sitting just behind Tom Brady for the second-most passing yards in the league, Rivers proved that there was still plenty left in the tank.
Even with a strong finish, head coach Anthony Lynn may push for a replacement sooner rather than later. With a strong quarterback class featuring two Heisman trophy winners in Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson, Lynn may get his wish for a mobile quarterback.
It will be heavily debated in the offseason, but it wouldn’t be a shock to see headlines similar to when Marcus Mariota was rumored to be on the Chargers’ radar in 2015.
What other needs do the Chargers need to address in 2018?