On Sunday, July 30, 2017, the Los Angeles Chargers opened training camp, thus raising the curtain on their 2017 season. Optimism is high and the collective eyes of Chargers fans will be glued to the Jack R. Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa, CA. The Bolts look for improvement on both sides of the ball.
Without further ado, here is a brief prognosis on the 2017 Chargers Season.
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In their first season away from San Diego, the Los Angeles Chargers will be playing their home games at the StubHub Center in Carson, California. The 27,000 seat-capacity venue is also the home of the LA Galaxy of Major League Soccer (MLS.) While it is one of the larger home fields in the MLS, it is a far cry from Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego. The Chargers had become accustomed to playing in front of capacity crowds of near 70,000 spectators.
It will be interesting to see how this will affect the Chargers, who have always enjoyed a strong home-field advantage. In addition, the Chargers have to win in order to capture the attention and support of a new fan base in Los Angeles. While it most certainly won’t be easy, there’s plenty of reason to believe that this year will be better than the last. So far, new head coach Anthony Lynn seems to be the right coach who can keep it all together.
You say ‘goodbye’, we say ‘hello.’
The Chargers had some key departures, which may impact the team in 2017. They released cornerback Brandon Flowers, guard D.J. Fluker, wide receiver Stevie Johnson and offensive tackle King Dunlap. Running back Danny Woodhead also left the team to sign with the Baltimore Ravens.
However, the Chargers retained the vast majority of their top talent, and brought in offensive tackle Russell Okung as a free agent to bolster their offensive line. The biggest issue with the Chargers has always been in the trenches, which is still an issue, especially on the offensive side. They hope that Okung can help to anchor the O-Line and provide better protection for quarterback Philip Rivers. The injury to highly-touted rookie OL Forrest Lamp does hurt that plan a bit. Lamp will be sidelined for the entire 2017 season. Therefore, look for the Chargers to add depth to the offensive line during the remainder of the preseason.
Chargers fans highly anticipated the arrival of rookie wide receiver Mike Williams. Williams was expected to form a lethal tandem with fellow receiver Keenan Allen; thus providing Rivers with a pair of prolific targets. However, Williams has been inactive for the entirety of training camp,so far, with a back injury. Unfortunately, there is serious doubt about Williams’ prognosis for playing this season. The Chargers hope for the best, but may be forced to expect the worst in this situation. Regardless, the Chargers have a very deep receiving corps, a formidable duo at tight end and a play making running back in Melvin Gordon. That should help to lessen the impact of Williams’ absence, how ever long it may be.
Who will be the Offensive MVP?
QB Philip Rivers — For as long as he wears the pads, the Chargers offense will begin and end with their quarterback. One would be hard pressed to find anyone tougher or more competitive than Rivers. With his durability, reliable accuracy and ability to quickly read defenses, he is regarded as one of the game’s more productive passers. The injury to Williams could impact his overall numbers. However, look for Rivers to thrive behind a much-improved offensive line and a healthy Keenan Allen. If he can obtain more comfort in the pocket, Rivers could be poised to flourish in a potent, high-percentage, shotgun-heavy, spread attack.
Who will be the Defensive MVP?
DE Joey Bosa — Joey Bosa is one of the most exciting defenders in the NFL. He is also quickly becoming one of its most-feared. In 2016, Bosa tied for the NFL lead with 17 tackles for loss, plus a team-high 10.5 sacks and 21 QB hits. In 2017, new defensive coordinator Gus Bradley is expected to implement the 4-3 end post, the system in which Bosa starred at Ohio State. He is a total package of length, strength, speed and relentlessness. In paring with fellow lineman Melvin Ingram, Bosa will improve upon his current standing, which places him amongst the NFL’s most destructive linemen.
How will the team fare this year?
The Chargers have some difficult games this season. Outside of their own division, they take on teams like the defending Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots, as well as NFC East powerhouses, the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. Their own division, the AFC West, holds two of the best teams in the AFC, the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs. The Chargers have the third-toughest schedule based on opponents’ winning percentage of .568 in 2016. Also, one cannot discount the potential distractions involved with the relocation process.
The Chargers have enough talent to challenge for a division title. However, the strength of their division could end up being their biggest hurdle.
They will almost certainly improve on their dismal 5-11 record in 2016. In fact, they should end up with a winning record in 2017. In the end, though, it may not be enough in a stacked division. Here’s hoping that there’s a little bit of LA magic waiting in the Chargers new home, this year.
Prediction: 9-7, 3rd in AFC West
– Mike D’Abate is the Managing Editor for cover32/Chargers and covers the Los Angeles Chargers.