It’s never too early to look ahead when you’re a big enough football fan. Absolutely never.
So with that in mind, the analysts over at ESPN went to work to put together a very, very early rendition of their NFL power rankings. In this first rendition, the Chargers come in just outside the top 10 teams at #11. Only five AFC teams rank above them and they are the Chiefs, Bills, Bengals, Titans, and Patriots. The other teams that round the top 10 from the NFC are the Rams, Packers, 49ers, Cowboys, and Cardinals.
“It was apparent throughout the 2021 season that the Chargers’ offense was not the problem,” said ESPN Chargers beat writer Shelley Smith. “However, the defense finished last in third-down conversions allowed (49.5%), was tied for 29th in points allowed (27.0) and 26th in expected points added (minus-80.49).”
On top of those stats listed by Smith above, the Chargers also were gashed consistently on the ground to the tune of 138.9 yards per game which was third worst in the league this season and the worst mark for the Chargers as a franchise since the 2003 season. There was a stretch during the second half of the season where the team improved in that area, but when the team needed the unit to step up the most, they couldn’t get the job done.
As porous as the defense was, however, their early ranking here really speaks to how highly regarded their offense was in 2021. No matter how flat the defense was, Justin Herbert and company always gave them a chance.
But 2022 is a new season and change is on the horizon. Let’s hope they can keep this hype and grow it further as we get closer and closer to September.