How do the Atlanta Falcons stack up against the Los Angeles Chargers?
The Los Angeles Chargers went from a playoff team in 2018 to last place in the division in 2019. A common trend for NFL teams but one they may not have expected.
The Chargers were bitten by the injury bug to start the 2019 season and they were never able to find their footing. There were 10 players who were either on injured reserve or ruled out for week one of the season. One of those players was starting safety Derwin James, who was first-team all-pro the year before.
Offensively the Chargers were up and down and never established any consistency. Part of the reason is that starting running back Melvin Gordon held out to start the season with a contract dispute. Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson carried the load while he was gone. They two did a solid job finishing the season with 557 and 200 yards rushing respectively. Ekeler was effective out of the backfield catching 92 passes for 993 yards. Gordon was the teams leading rusher with 612 yards and he missed four games.
Turnovers were a huge problem for the Chargers, quarterback Phillip Rivers committed 28 of the team's 41 turnovers.
Rivers is gone now after the franchise made the decision to move on and have Tyrod Taylor as the place holder until rookie Justin Herbert is ready to take over. Taylor played in eight games last season only completing four of six passes. He started four games for the Browns in 2018 averaging 186 yards per game. Luckily for Taylor, he will have pro bowl wide receiver, Keenan Allen to lean on.
Gordon is gone as well. He and the team weren’t able to come to terms on a long term extension, so now Ekeler and Jackson will shoulder the load in the backfield along with fourth-round pick Joshua Kelley from UCLA.
Defensively, the Chargers have a super bowl caliber unit anchored by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the edges. James leads the back end of the secondary with Casey Heyward and Desmond King at cornerback. They also drafted linebacker Kenneth Murray and added Nick Vigil in free agency. The Chargers ranked No. 18 in the against the run last year but No. 5 against the pass.
When comparing the two teams, the Falcons have the better offense. Matt Ryan is a better quarterback than Taylor and that is the difference here. The Chargers have weapons, but Taylor’s skillset limits the Chargers ceiling. However, the Chargers defense will pose some problems, and with this being a road game the Falcons will have their hands full.