Key Additions: Thomas Davis, Tyrod Taylor, Dontrelle Inman, Nasir Adderley, Jerry Tillery, Trey Pipkins
Key Returns: Brandon Mebane, Adrian Phillips, Denzel Perryman, Issac Rochell, Jaylen Watkins, Damion Square.
Key Departures: Jahleel Addae, Tyrell Williams, Jason Verrett, Darius Philon, Corey Liuget, Antonio Gates
|Week 1||Sept. 8th 4:10 PM ET||vs. Indianapolis Colts (CBS)|
|Week 2||Sept. 15th 1:00 PM ET||@ Detroit Lions (CBS)|
|Week 3||Sept. 22nd 4:25 PM ET||vs. Houston Texans (CBS)|
|Week 4||Sept. 29th 1:00 PM ET||@ Miami Dolphins (CBS)|
|Week 5||Oct. 6th 4:05 PM ET||vs. Denver Broncos (CBS)|
|Week 6||Oct. 13th 8:20 PM ET||vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (NBC)|
|Week 7||Oct. 20th 4:05 PM ET||@ Tennessee Titans (CBS)|
|Week 8||Oct. 27th 1:00 PM ET||@ Chicago Bears (FOX)|
|Week 9||Nov. 3rd 4:25 PM ET||vs. Green Bay Packers (CBS)|
|Week 10||Nov. 7th 8:20 PM ET||@ Oakland Raiders (FOX)|
|Week 11||Nov. 18th 8:15 PM ET||vs. Kansas City Cheifs (ESPN)|
|Week 13||Dec. 1st 4:25 PM ET||@ Denver Broncos (CBS)|
|Week 14||Dec 8th 4:05 PM ET||@ Jacksonville Jaguars (FOX)|
|Week 15||Dec 15th 8:20 PM ET||vs. Minnesota Vikings (NBC)|
|Week 16||TBD||vs. Oakland Raiders (TBD)|
|Week 17||Dec 29th 1:00 PM ET||@ Kansas City Chiefs (CBS)|
After making the Chargers a winning team again in 2017, head coach Anthony Lynn brought the Chargers back to being a playoff team for the first time since 2013. Unfortunately, the Chargers couldn’t make it past the Super Bowl champs, New England Patriots, in the divisional round, but that doesn’t take away from the terrific season they were able to accomplish. In 2018 the Chargers had a 12-4 record, four All-Pros, seven Pro-Bowlers, and a top 10 offense and defense. One of the most balanced teams in the NFL as there was very little the Chargers didn’t excel at. The only thing they weren’t a top 10 team in was rushing offense, and that was mostly due to their premier back, Melvin Gordon, missing four games. Going into 2019 the Chargers used the draft to strengthen a defense that was hit a number of injuries in 2018.
With their first-round pick, the Chargers grabbed defensive tackle Jason Tillery (Notre Dame), who will step in next to Brandon Mebane and Justin Jones on a defensive line that lost a few players to free agency. After drafting one of the best safeties in the league last year with All-Pro Derwin James the Chargers decided to give him some support with their second-round pick in safety Nasir Adderley (Delaware). He will be an immediate upgrade at the single-high safety spot and along with James will give the Chargers one of the scariest safety duos in the NFL. In the third round, the Chargers reached a bit grabbing offensive tackle Trey Pipkins (Sioux Falls). With Russell Okung dealing with a pulmonary embolism, Pipkins may have an opportunity to see the field earlier than expected.
On offense, the Chargers biggest concern going into 2019 is if Melvin Gordon will be apart of the team. Gordon has held out all offseason believing he deserves a contract equal to elite running backs such as Le’Veon Bell, David Johnson, and Todd Gurley. Given Gordon’s value to the team, the uncertainty of NFL careers due to injuries, and Gordon only having the 27th highest paid contract for running backs, it makes sense for Gordon to want some compensation and financial security. If Gordon doesn’t play week one the Chargers are going to have to roll out with Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson. Ekeler has shown to be no slouch himself averaging over five yards a carry last year. He’s no Melvin Gordon, but he would be a more than serviceable replacement given the absence of Gordon.
Fortunately, for the Chargers their offense is much more pass focused, and Phillip Rivers is coming off another pro-bowl caliber season. One big problem is that Tyrell Williams is now in Oakland after receiving a huge contract the Chargers couldn’t match. Mike Williams now has to step up, but he has the potential to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in a much larger role. After missing all of 2018, Hunter Henry is back and will give Allen and Williams even more space to make plays. Henry is a major threat and gives Rivers a safety net that will create even more problems for opposing defenses. Regardless, if the Chargers come to an agreement with Melvin Gordon they will still be one of the best offenses in the NFL.
Going into 2019, General Manager Tom Telesco made it his mission to improve the linebacker situation due to being destroyed by injuries in 2018. He re-signed Denzel Perryman and made a huge move by signing former Panthers linebacker Thomas Davis. Davis will provide an immediate impact on his leadership and consistency. Davis should also help in the ongoing development of Denzel Perryman and Uchenna Nwosu by taking some weight off their shoulders. They also re-signed Adrian Phillips who provided tons of versatility and is playing the best football of his career. The Chargers re-signed Brandon Mebane who will provide veteran leadership to rookie defensive tackle Jason Tillery. Tillery should make an immediate impact on an already powerful defensive line. What will make the Chargers’ defense truly elite is the growth of their secondary. With the addition and some smart draft picks, the Chargers’ defense could mirror the offense and easily be one of the best in the NFL.
The Chargers schedule is the easiest in their division, but they do have to play division rivals Kansas City twice, and Oakland could provide some challenge depending on how good they are after their rebuild. They got lucky and get to start the season against a Luck-less Colts. Unfortunately, they have to face the entire NFC North which is constantly in a power struggle and is always desperate for any win they can get. This includes an away game in Chicago in late October. Aside from that Chicago game though, they got a seriously easy away game slate with Detroit, Tennessee, Jacksonville, and Miami. The biggest game of the season will be their last where they close out the season with an away game at Kansas City which could potentially be the division deciding game.
After a great 2018, the Chargers are going into 2019 healthier and stronger than ever. They filled all their needs in the draft and added some much needed depth. Thomas Davis is the leader their defense needed, and Hunter Henry’s return will only make their already top 10 offense better. It should be a question if the Chargers will give Melvin Gordon a new contract, but even without him, the Los Angeles Chargers are a Super Bowl-caliber team.