Bleeding Green Nation’s game-by-game preview of the Eagles' 2017 schedule continues today with Philadelphia's Week 4 opponent: the Los Angeles Chargers. (Click here for the Week 3 preview.)
The most interesting thing going on with the Chargers is their move from San Diego to Los Angeles. I’ve mentioned before that I’m curious to see how their new host city accepts them. Unlike the Rams, the Chargers don’t have an extensive history in L.A. They were only there for one season before moving south in 1961. There’s already some indication they won’t receive a warm welcome.
Reaction to the relocation itself has not been without controversy. Los Angeles Times columnist Bill Plaschke welcomed the team to town by writing "We. Don't. Want. You." At a game at the Staples Center between the Los Angeles Clippers and Lakers, the Chargers' regular logo was shown on a scoreboard and was "booed heartily". Chargers tight end Jeff Cumberland was also "jeered" by the crowd when featured on the big screen.
One week after the move from San Diego to Los Angeles was announced, ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the other NFL owners were "angered" by the decision, and that "the NFL wants the Chargers to move back, though nobody believes that possibility is realistic.
I’m really curious what the atmosphere at the Chargers’ temporary stadium, which only holds a mere total of 30,000 people, will be like. My early thought is it can’t be as tough of a place to play compared to other road venues. In any case, the crowd is less of a factor than the team itself.
The Chargers certainly weren’t a good team last season. Head coach Mike McCoy was fired after a 5-11 campaign in 2016. In fairness, they played in one of the NFL’s toughest divisions. They had to play the Chiefs (12-4), Raiders (12-4), and last year’s defending Super Bowl champion Broncos (9-7) two times each.
Not unlike the Eagles, however, there’s reason to believe the Bolts were a little better than their record indicated. The Chargers had a better point differential than three teams that made the playoffs last season. Their expected win-loss total was 7.7-8.3. That’s not great, but it shows they were closer to being an average team than they were to being one of the worst teams in the league.
It also shows that the Chargers could be poised to bounce back this season. ESPN’s Mike Clay recently posted a column about why the Bolts will win the AFC West this season. Clay explained how the Chargers were snake-bitten by injuries in 2016 and they’re bound to not be as injured this year. Among other reasons, he also highlighted their talent at the cornerback and pass rush positions.
Coaching is a question mark for Los Angeles. Rookie head coach Anthony Lynn has a lot to prove. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley had success when he was with the Seahawks (as did many other Seattle DC’s) but was terrible as a head coach in Jacksonville.
The Chargers still have Philip Rivers, and he’s still pretty good if he’s playing at his best. The 35-year-old threw a career-high 21 interceptions last season, however, so he’ll be on “decline watch” moving forward.
This could be a tough game for the Eagles given they have to travel all the way out to the West Coast. The Chargers don’t seem eminently unbeatable by any means, though.
Here’s a more in-depth look at the Chargers from our SB Nation associates over at Bolts From The Blue.
Notable free agent additions:
OT Russell Okung, S Tre Boston
Notable free agent departures:
OT King Dunlap, OG D.J. Fluker, WR Stevie Johnson, CB Brandon Flowers
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies:
OG Forrest Lamp, WR Mike Williams, CB Desmond King
Biggest offseason addition:
OT Russell Okung
Biggest storyline heading into training camp:
Aside from the obvious fact that the Chargers are playing in Carson instead of San Diego this year, the biggest storyline is that the offensive line will have new starters at as many as four of the five positions.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp:
It will be interesting to see how the defense which was actually pretty good last season does under new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley who will have them moving from a base 34 to base 43 defense.
Notable injuries heading into training camp:
Somehow, there are not really any notable injuries for the Chargers heading into training camp (save some nagging issues for first round pick Mike Williams).