Well, ladies and gentlemen, we’re back to those familiar Mondays. The ones after a loss, where all the world seems to be falling apart. We’ve been spared this feeling quite a bit this season, so I suppose that it’s been well-earned. The difference with this one is that it’s not just drama- the season is now over for the Chargers, and there was every reason to think that they were the better team before the coin flip.
One of the most repeated storylines leading up to this weekend was that this season represented “the last best hope for Philip Rivers to get his ring.” Each time I heard that, I couldn’t help but groan at that uninspired and lazy tagline. Drew Brees is a great case in point—Rivers has a lot left in the tank, and that has been evidenced by his ever-increasing numbers these last two years. Fellow draft-mate Ben Roethlisberger has also seen his stats jump over the last two years, making talk of retirement look that much sillier.
The Chargers have fielded really good teams since Anthony Lynn took over, and it’s frustrating to miss a key chance to win it all. I will agree, this team could have done it. Unlike the Eagles yesterday, the Chargers didn’t lose on an unlucky pick. They got soundly punched in the mouth. Instead of being the last rites for a team that got the door shut on them, it’s much more likely that this past weekend serves as a wake-up call for the organization, the coaches, and the players. They’ve got the chess pieces.
The Home Field Advantage
It will be a tired refrain from fans and outsiders that the Chargers fell because of the enormity of never playing a true home game. Although tired, it is a line that I agree with. You can see how well that home advantage has served the Patriots for the past 18 years. Even with cobwebs, concrete, and brutalist architecture to decorate the home field, the Chargers would have likely played with home field advantage throughout the playoffs if they were back in San Diego.
But they’re not. It’s just another unlucky hurdle for the team to jump next year, but they’ve already proven that they can. With a little more tweaking, with a personnel move or three, and possibly some changes in coaching philosophy, this team has the cogs necessary to keep that window open.
The End of the Window
Although it is impossible to know just yet, it is likely that 2020 is the true end of the window as we know and see it with the personnel we have. Rivers has said that he wants to ‘break in’ the new stadium, Bosa, James, and Henry will be in the prime of their careers, and the Chargers should have a shiny new home field that promises the creature comforts of a next-generation home stadium.
With a likely work stoppage in 2021, it will be absolutely key for Telesco to nail these next two drafts, with the more important being this one coming up. Believe it or not, the Chargers have the look of a powerhouse that should be able to contend for the next several years, and that should be encouraging to a fan base that could use a good shot in the arm instead of the mouth.
-Jason “Honestly, next year!” Michaels