Football season is nearly upon us and so I've created some short threads on the Chargers' 2022 Opponents to bolster discussion about those teams (and hopefully generate SOME EXCITEMENT!)
A thread on the Seattle Seahawks, the Chargers’ 2022 opponent in Week 7 (at Chargers).
1. "We might have two 1s". Yes, this is a real quote from HC Pete Carroll speaking recently about the QB situation in Seattle entering the 2022 season.
2. What led to the decision by the Seahawks and Russell Wilson to part ways after 10 years of consistent success may not emerge clearly until one of Carroll/Wilson publishes an autobiography. But what’s clear is that both sides were ready for a change.
3. For Carroll, a man whose youthful exuberance belies his (now) septuagenarian body, the task ahead of him is to instill belief in a playing group that includes a number of veteran players (eg Metcalf, Lockett, Adams) that they are competitive.
4. How to do this? I'm not quite sure while Geno & Lock remain the only options at QB1. I suspect that from Carroll’s perspective (channelling his USC days), it will include a heavy dosage of RB and preaching the virtues of complementary football.
5. Unfortunately, with the untimely retirement of Chris Carson, a lot of the pressure may rest on the shoulders of rookie RB Kenneth Walker (sidelined with a hernia) and late-bloomer Rashaad Penny (who rushed for 673 yds in the final 5 games of 2021). Will they be up to the challenge?
6. For this approach to work, the Seahawks will be hoping to repeat last season’s efforts where they turned the ball over on offense less than any team in the NFL (only 13 turnovers). For this to happen again, Lock sure better not take the field…
7. Defensively, a change away from Seattle Cover 3 to a Fangio-inspired quarters heavy scheme is in keeping with broader league trends. But the mass offseason exodus at CB (Reed, Witherspoon, Flowers) may initially hurt a secondary already ranked 31st in 2021 for pass yardage allowed.
8. Seattle’s draft focus was to shore up their front 7 on both sides of the ball, which have struggled mightily in recent years. In this regard, Cross, Mafe and Lucas are investments that GM John Schneider will be hoping yield generous early returns.
9. Although Seattle has earned some benefit of the doubt after years of organisational stability, should we completely ignore the incongruence of the team applying resources in this way with no QB to throw Metcalf/Lockett the football?
10. Perhaps by Week 7 there will be a new QB under center for the Seahawks via in-season trade. But on the current state of the franchise, I expect the Chargers to take the "W" at home v Seattle with Pete Carroll left chewing his gum helplessly on the sidelines.
What do you think?
A thread on the Atlanta Falcons, the Chargers’ 2022 opponent in Week 9 (at Falcons).
1. How did the 2021 Falcons win 7 games when they ranked 26th for Points Scored, 25th for Offensive Turnovers, 31st in Total Rush Yards, 29th in Defensive Points Allowed and 32nd for total sacks AND total pressures.
2. Was it Matt Ryan (3,968 yds, 20 TDs, 12 INTs) and his ability to pave over the cracks left by an otherwise flawed team, or was it the play-calling and leadership of first year HC Arthur Smith? Or perhaps both?
3. At least one clear indicator of Smith’s prowess was his ability to extract production from do-it-all weapon, Cordarelle Patterson (618 rush yds, 6 TDs, 548 rec yds, 5 TDs), where other NFL OCs have uniformly failed to unlock his many talents.
4. But while Arthur Smith should be reasonably pleased with Year 1, he cannot rest on his laurels as he now faces a metaphorical road to perdition. Ryan traded to the Colts after a decade of service. Russell Gage signed by Tampa. Ridley suspended for the season. Brutal.
5. It appears that little (if any) help is coming on Defense. Veteran DC Dean Pees has been vocal in the press about raised expectations in the building for his squad which ran Cover-2 as much as any team in the NFL in 2021.
6. However, apart from possessing a deadly CB duo (AJ Terrell/Casey Hayward) and the indefatigable DT Grady Jarrett, there is a dearth of defensive talent in Atlanta. They are going to struggle.
7. Redolent of our analysis of the Texans, hope for Falcons fans may lie in a future where Kyle Pitts, Drake London, Arnold Ebiketie and Desmond Ridder become household names. Pitts, in particular, is poised for a breakout 2022.
8. Arthur Smith can only hope he is there to see the fruits of his hard labour. I think he will be, as owner Arthur Blank is generally patient, and I get the impression that the team is under no illusion that the Falcons won’t take considerable time to fix.
9. If QB Desmond Ridder can build on the promise he’s shown during this pre-season, I expect he has a fair chance of starting 8+ games for the Falcons in 2022 (noting that Mariota was benched in Tennessee while Arthur Smith was in the building).
10. For the Chargers, this Wk 9 post-BYE match-up is as easy as their schedule gets before a murderer’s row of opponents right through to January. They should leave Atlanta having secured a comfortable victory.