The Los Angeles Chargers are moving upward, but they are not ready to compete for the AFC West.
Sports Illustrated's Raider Maven is going behind enemy lines to get the latest information on the Raiders' divisional rivals straight from the source that covers them.
The Bolts might have found their quarterback of the future with Justin Herbert and feel confident about the new coaching staff, but as they are about ready to welcome fans into their shared-SoFi Stadium this fall, opposing fan bases are prepared to invade their home games, including Raider Nation.
Sports Illustrated beat writer of the Chargers Fernando Ramirez recently joined Raider Maven's Editor and Publisher Hondo Carpenter on the radio, as he was co-hosting with Clay Baker on the "Pritch & Clay" morning show on Raider Nation Radio (LINK TO LISTEN LIVE).
Ramirez told Carpenter his most confident and least confident aspects on the team leading up to the start of the season.
"I was very impressed last year," Ramirez said of Herbert's performance last season.
Since week two, the Oregon Duck product started every game as Tyrod Taylor, sidelined with a chest injury. He would finish the 2020 season as the NFL's offensive rookie of the year.
The Chargers have a lot of optimism around the offense. They have improved the offensive line to run the ball, Austin Ekeler returns to the squad fully healthy, and added more weapons for Herbert.
The Chargers are also confident with their new head coach, Brandon Staley, who served as the Rams defensive coordinator a year ago. Staley has noted that he will be calling the defensive plays next season.
"The Chargers feel really good about him, the team really loves what he's doing," said Ramirez.
It will be fascinating how Staley handles the head coaching job and the defensive play-calling.
The least confident aspect of the team is the edge rushers. The Chargers will enter 2021 with Joey Bosa on one side and a question mark on the other side. Melvin Ingram continues to be a free agent.
Ramirez's other least confident aspect this year is the Chargers' home games.
In the last few years, visiting fans have invaded Chargers' home games.
The growing passion of Charger fans has pushed to keep away visiting teams from filling up the Stadium. Still, upcoming games against the Cowboys and Raiders will be a battle this season, as Southern California holds a large fan base of both teams.
"I think the Chargers are going to be ok this year, I think next year is really going to be their window where they can really put the pedal to the metal, and be able to step it up," said Ramirez. "I think this year will be another learning curve. They're going to learn under Brandon Staley, they're going to learn what the coaches want them to do."
Ramirez predicts the Chargers win-loss record of 10-7 next season, surprising teams across the league.
But will that be enough to win the division or help them make the playoffs? It doesn't seem like it.
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