After Anthony Lynn was fired in January, the Chargers come into the new season with a brand new head coach. The team decided that 38-year-old LA Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley was the right guy to lead this Chargers team. He has brought new ideas to the squad, like having an "activation period" before practice, in which the team stretches out core muscles and pretty much awakens the body.
Staley also is big on relationships, so he called every single player on the roster and introduced himself while also taking the chance to explain to them the vision he has for the team. There will be carry-over when it comes to players from last season and even an anticipated return for safety Derwin James, who has only played in five games in the last two seasons due to injury.
Justin Herbert is the quarterback of this team, and all of the conversations during the offense have been whether he would be comfortable in offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi's offense, which he has been. There are a lot of high expectations for his second season.
The brand new toy for the Chargers offense is their offensive line, which has four new starters. Center Corey Linsley brings a whole new element to the team because he can also be eyes and ears for Herbert. The team drafted Rashawn Slater to be their left tackle for the next 10 years.
The running backs are led by Austin Ekeler, who has been telling fans to take him early in fantasy football. He could be in line for a big year after missing six games last year and not being at 100 percent to end the year. Justin Jackson, Larry Rountree, and Joshua Kelley should also see playing time, especially if the coaching staff wants fresh bodies.
Keenan Allen and Mike Williams should be fed a lot this season, especially in the Lombardi/Saints style of offense. Allen seems to be open at all times, and Williams has been making strides in his receiving tree. Joshua Palmer has open eyes and should be an integral piece to this offense that needs a third receiver.
This defense has been beaten up in the past and experienced some bad moments, but how good could they be if healthy?
"Best in the league, period," said linebacker Kenneth Murray Jr.
There will be a lot of changes on this defense, especially scheme-wise, with Brandon Staley calling the defense. He, along with Renaldo Hill, have brought their version of the defense, so it will be interesting to watch them execute on Sundays. They have depth at linebacker with Drue Tranquill and Kyzir White alongside Murray. All three have talked about how this system fits them better than in previous years.
There are a lot of questions about the defensive line, especially with Justin Jones and Jerry Tillery. Jones has had his ups and downs as a member of the Chargers, while Tillery hasn't really stood out. Last season, he had five penalties on the third or fourth down, leading to first downs for the opposing offense. Linval Joseph will be the anchor of the line and will be counted on to swallow blocks. The defensive line will need to be good enough to get the quarterback introduced to Joey Bosa. He will line up at one edge while Kyler Fackrell will line up opposite him. The Chargers will need to generate consistent pressure.
The secondary, as previously mentioned, has a returning Derwin James, who has been the leader of this defense and really of the whole team. He comes off the field and goes straight over to Chris Harris Jr., Asante Samuel Jr., and Michael Davis to explain what he saw on the field. Samuel should be starting opposite Davis at cornerback, with Harris moving around to different spots. Nasir Adderley will be at free safety and will be a player to watch because he struggled last season. There will be a lot of moving parts to this defense to make the quarterback feel pressure.
The Chargers are healthy *knock on wood* heading into the season, and if things go right, they could be a wild-card team. Lombardi will need to be a wizard on offense, while Staley is a mastermind on defense. Special teams coach Derius Swinton needs to take one of the worst special teams units to at least a top 10.
Expected Depth Chart
QB: Justin Herbert, Chase Daniel, Easton Stick
RB: Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley, Larry Rountree
WR: Keenan Allen, Jalen Guyton, K.J. Hill
WR: Mike Williams, Joshua Palmer
TE: Jared Cook, Donald Parham, Stephen Anderson, Tre’ McKitty
LT: Rashawn Slater, Trey Pipkins
LG: Matt Feiler, Brenden Jaimes
C: Corey Linsley, Scott Quessenberry
RG: Oday Aboushi
RT: Bryan Bulaga, Trey Pipkins
DT: Justin Jones, Christian Covington
DT: Linval Joseph, Eric Banks
DT: Jerry Tillery
Edge: Joey Bosa, Chris Rumph
Edge: Kyler Fackrell, Uchenna Nwosu
Cornerback: Michael Davis, Kemon Hall
Cornerback: Asante Samuel Jr., Trey Marshall
Slot: Chris Harris Jr., Tevaughn Campbell
SS: Derwin James, Alohi Gilman
FS: Nasir Adderley, Mark Webb