“Chargers Camp–How Good Are They?”
The Bolts….Good on paper….Will they be good on the field?
Go to a Chargers Zoom Press Conference with new head coach Brandon Staley, and it’s like a tent revival.
A (17-0) season and the playoffs are just around the corner.
Ah, the enthusiasm of a new coach, a young staff, starting with a clean piece of paper, a hot young quarterback and a very young impressionable team.
Random thoughts on all things Bolts:
OWNERSHIP….Waiting to see what happens in the Spanos-vs-Spanos, Dea-vs-Dean lawsuit about ownership of the team and whether it should be sold. The lawsuit has been moved to San Joaquin County, out of LA, because the Spanos Foundation charities are located in Stockton..
THE STADIUM..The team will be the tenant in the Rams Stadium and it will be interesting to see if they draw 25,000-Chargers fans to games. I have no doubt in my mind they will draw big crowds, fueled by fans wearing the other teams colors. A great home schedule with big time QBs coming in.
THE VACCINE…They went from an embarrassing low of 30%-vaccine rates of players in May to nearly 90%, quite an accomplishment. Hats off to football leadership for delivering the message about safety.
THE COACHES…An NFL exec I trust called Staley a ‘Rhodes Scholar” type of football guy, high praise for a coach who served just 1-year as an offensive coordinator with the Rams. But give him space.
THE SYSTEMS…Joe Lombardi, who ran a complex offensive scheme, triggered by Drew Brees in New Orleans, will hope that the prized QB-Justin Herbert can handle all the calls that need to be made. Only time will tell if Herbert can run it all or if defenses crush him. The defense is going to a ‘3-4’ look and it will be fun to see Joey Bosa line up lots of different places. I like the Bolts front seven.
THE QUARTERBACK…That was no fluke last year, and Justin Herbert did alot on his own without a ton of talent around him. You wish they had kept the same system a second year and just added pieces, instead they purged the staff-changed the system.
WR..We know about the skill of Keenan Allen, the gifts of Mike Williams, and the big plays a couple of the young kids pulled off catching deep balls. They need Tyron Johnson, Joe Reed, KD Hill and Jaylen Guyton to become key parts of the offense.
TE..No Hunter Henry, but Jared Cook can catch passes, but not as dangerous as Henry was. Slot receivers and throws to running backs will replace some of the balls that went to tight ends.
RB..Austin Ekeler must stay healthy. They want to get the ball to him as often as the Saints get the ball to Alvin Kamara. Behind him are oft-injured Justin Jackson and young Joshua Kelly. Very young players beyond them. If anything happens to Ekeler, it will be devastating.
OL..Tom Telesco spent alot of draft currency three years to draft a load of lineman. All but one was let go in the off season. There will be four new starters upfront, led by vastly underrated Packers OC-Corey Linsley, and the arrival of highly regarded OT-Rashawn Slater. Can RT-Bryan Bulaga stay on the field will be a huge question. Does Trey Pipkins become a starter in this third year? No depth upfront either.
DL…The starters are big, active, solid, but everything beyond the front three is pretty much unproven. Gerry Tillery had a good second year, and they need a better third year from him. Linval Joseph and Justin Jones can play in this league, but what happens if anyone gets hurt.
LB…Joey Bosa will be all over the field, and that should help lessen the pounding he took as a down DE. There is no Melvin Ingram, gone to the Steelers. Most everyone believes stardom is just around the corner for Kenneth Murray and Drue Tranquill and Kyzer White have played well when healthy, along with Ochenna Nwosu. Ky Fackrell coming over from the Packers-Jets brings sack ability with him. This could be a very good group.
DB..Derwin James has missed 27-games in two years, and needs to be on the field. Chris Harris provides solid leadership at corner. But everything else is a mystery. Michael Davis might be an athlete and big, but he gave up lots of plays the last two years. We don’t really know how good Nasir Adderly can be, because he has had injuries. Much is expected of Asante Samuel and he will play early. Athlete Brandon Facyson went thru a painful learning on the job training last year. Hope he learned enough to be trusted on the field.
SPECIAL TEAMS…Michael Badgley needs to stay healthy to stay consistent. Ty Long appears safe as the punter. The Bolts look like they have enough WRs to become PR-KR. Anything is better than what we saw under the last coaching regime.
QUESTIONS…Can Herbert master the offense? Who is next in line on the offensive line? Who backs up and can be trusted if anything happens to Ekeler? Depth in the defensive front? The injury issue in the secondary?
Brandon Staley may talk about a (17-0) season. See me Labor Day weekend and I will tell you if this is an (11-6) playoff team or a (6-11) team of troubles.