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The 2016 season proved to be the Chargers last in San Diego as just three weeks after the end of the campaign, the franchise announced their move to Los Angeles.
The team had been based in the region for over 50 years, ending an era for their supporters, although it was not a fruitful one ass they failing to win a Super Bowl during their tenure in the city.
Their last term in San Diego ended in failure and also brought an end to the four-year reign of Mike McCoy following a 5-11 campaign, featuring many collapses over the course of the season.
McCoy’s men lost their last five matches on the spin, making his position untenable. Anthony Lynn has been hired as his replacement after a dramatic rise from running backs coach to interim head coach at the Buffalo Bills last season.
He does not have a lot of experience in top positions and will face a baptism of fire in the new city.
We’ll now take a look back at the last season to see what went wrong for the Chargers and what they will need to do to compete for a place in the playoffs.
The Chargers began the season with a tough task on the road against the Kansas City Chiefs. However, they enjoyed a perfect start to the contest, racing into a 24-3 lead in the third quarter. McCoy’s men allowed their 21-point lead to slip in the fourth quarter, despite adding another three points to their score after Tyreek Hill found the endzone.
The Chiefs levelled through a score from Spencer Ware, taking the game to overtime. Kansas City won the game when Alex Smith ran in for a two-yard touchdown on their first possession, stunning the Chargers.
McCoy’s men were able to bounce back with a hammering of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but their vulnerabilities were to return against the Indianapolis Colts, allowing Andrew Luck to drive his team back late in the game to snatch the win when he connected deep with TY Hilton.
Perhaps their worst loss the season came against the New Orleans Saints. The Chargers seemingly had the game in control after taking a 34-21 lead in the fourth quarter. However, a fumble from Melvin Gordon allowed the Saints to drive within a score after Michael Thomas snagged a touchdown pass from Drew Brees. Then another fumble from Travis Benjamin presented the Saints with a match-winning chance which they would take as John Kuhn plowed into the endzone.
The Chargers once again allowed two comfortable leads to slip in their next outing against the Oakland Raiders as Derek Carr and company scored 18 unanswered points in the second half. They attempted to respond and almost came back after a strike from Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates, but they were held in check, succumbing to a three-point defeat to their AFC West rivals.
McCoy’s men managed to pull themselves back into contention in the AFC by defeating the Denver Broncos at home, with a fine all-round performance against the defending Super Bowl champions. Another excellent display came against the future NFC Champions the Atlanta Falcons, with Rivers and company rallying from a 27-10 deficit before going on to win the contest in overtime.
The Chargers then destroyed another solid team in the form of the Tennessee Titans, putting 45 points on the board in an emphatic victory on home soil – in a game that was not as close as the scoreline suggests.
However, their propensity to collapse remained the club’s fatal flaw with Rivers throwing a costly pick-six in the final minute to lose their contest against the Miami Dolphins. Although they got back on track with a win over the Houston Texans – their dramatic fall was coming.
It began when they allowed two leads to slip at home against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, allowing Jameis Winston to lead a fourth-quarter comeback. They were then hammered on the road by the Carolina Panthers with Rivers enduring a five turnover match, including three interceptions.
The Chargers allowed another fourth-quarter comeback this time to the Raiders as two field goals from Sebastian Janikowski were enough to see out the win.
Two missed field goals then haunted McCoy’s men as they became the first team to lose to the Cleveland Browns, with Josh Lambo firing wide late on. The defeat all-but sealed McCoy’s fate, with his firing confirmed after their defeat to the Chiefs on the final day.
For all of the negativity surrounding the club last season their 5-11 record could have easily been at least 9-7 if not for some horrific collapses. As a result, new head coach Lynn can feel optimistic about the club’s future, especially as a number of players will return from the injured reserve list.
Keenan Allen, Danny Woodhead, Jason Verrett, Brandon Flowers and Manti Te’o, although work needs to be done in order to get players to return. Woodhead and Te’o are out of contract and it remains to be seen whether Lynn will want both of those men back on the roster.
Perhaps the key free agent for the club is pass-rusher Melvin Ingram, who will attract a lot of interest on the market. The 27-year-old could be handed the franchise tag to keep him with the Chargers for another season at the least.
Elsewhere the club are in dire need of offensive line help to keep Rivers upright. He has taken a lot of hits over the years and at the age of 35 he needs the pressure lifted from him. As a result, a move for Andrew Whitworth could be a solid acquisition; or others such as Kelvin Beachem and Ron Leary.
Youth will also be important for the offensive line – so spending a draft pick or two would also be worthwhile. In other areas, the defensive tackle market is not great so another young player could be line there to support the impressive Joey Bosa on the line.
A free safety should also be targeted with Bradley McDougald and Duron Harmon among the best options available at a decent salary cap figure, although Malik Hooker is a very intriguing prospect on the draft.
Los Angeles could be in line to take a wide receiver in the first round of the draft, with the club holding the seventh-overall selection in the process.
Mike Williams out of the Clemson Tigers was outstanding for his team throughout his college career, but especially in the National Championship game. Adding him would bolster an already potent offense, with BetOnline sportsbook backing him at 1/2 1.50 -200 0.50 -2.00 0.50 to be the first wideout selected.
At the age of 35, Rivers is coming to the end of his career so it could behove the Chargers to be looking at quarterbacks.
Should they like what they see from DeShaun Watson or Mitch Trubisky then it might be worthwhile selecting either player if they were to fall to seventh-overall pick, which could even see them be the first signal-caller taken. If that were to happen punting on either quarterback to be taken at 19/20 1.95 -105 0.95 -1.05 0.95 would make sense as the franchise enters a new era.
There is a lot of work ahead of Lynn in his new role, and although there is talent on the roster it will take something special for the Chargers to win the AFC Conference. This is due to the quality teams that play in their division, making a path to the playoffs hard to envisage. However, anything can happen in the NFL and backing them at 25/1 26.00 +2500 25.00 25.00 -0.04 to reach the Super Bowl could be a profitable punt.
Mike Williams To Be First Wide Receiver Selected 2017 Draft
Odds: 1/2 1.50 -200 0.50 -2.00 0.50
DeShaun Watson To Be First Quarterback Selected 2017 Draft
Odds: 19/20 1.95 -105 0.95 -1.05 0.95
Mitch Trubisky To Be First Quarterback Selected 2017 Draft
Odds: 19/20 1.95 -105 0.95 -1.05 0.95
Los Angeles Chargers To Win AFC Conference
Odds: 25/1 26.00 +2500 25.00 25.00 -0.04