By Dave Thomas
After years of talk, the move finally happened this past off-season.
Having been ingrained in the San Diego community dating back to the 1960s, the Chargers decided the time was right for a move up north. In doing so, they became the Los Angeles Chargers, something that many people in San Diego will never forget.
Now settled in their new confines (albeit temporary), the Chargers take to the field this coming Monday evening in Denver, facing one of their oldest AFL rivals in the Broncos. Needless to say, the Chargers hope the talk is about the game and not about their ex-San Diego tenant status.
When they do hit the field in the Mile High City for the second game of an NFL doubleheader, Los Angeles will be looking to show that last season’s 5-11 record and all of the off-the-field distractions are a thing of the past.
Will New A Beginning Mean Better Results?
Given how competitive the AFC West tends to be, it should come as no surprise that the Chargers will have their hands full this season, regardless of which city they call home.
Had Derek Carr not gotten hurt late in the 2016 season, the Raiders would’ve been a threat to make a deep run in the playoffs. It figures that Andy Reid will have the Chiefs in the hunt once again. With the Broncos not far removed from their third Super Bowl title, they too figure to be in the mix. So, where does that leave a Chargers team that is calling Carson, Calif. home for the next several seasons? Remember, the Chargers will be moving into brand new digs with the Rams in Inglewood in a few years.
With that 5-11 campaign a season ago, the Chargers saw a season of what might have been.
Although most teams go through injuries at one point or another during a season, the Chargers seemed to have caught an extra case or two of the injury bug in 2016.
If Los Angeles is to make any headway in the AFC West and beyond this season, it will need to keep veteran quarterback Philip Rivers upright once again. In what seems like most of his career in San Diego, Rivers has had to dodge defender after defender given the team’s shaky offensive line play over the years.
Can Past And New Stars Emerge?
Along with keeping Rivers healthy, a few other important keys to a successful 2017 campaign will include:
Healthy Keenan Allen – One of the better wide receivers in the NFL, Allen has battled season-ending injuries the last few years. After a stellar 2013 rookie season (71 catches, 1,046 yards, 8 TD’s), Allen’s last two years (2015, 16) have seen him play in a total of nine games. If Allen can make it through a 16-game season, it gives Rivers a prime target to go to.
Dominating Joey Bosa – The 2016 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year proved his worth last season. After a contract holdout, Bosa came to play and then some. The Ohio State product finished with 10.5 sacks and 41 tackles. If Bosa’s numbers get even better this year, opposing quarterbacks and running backs are in for some long days.
Kicking It With Younghoe Koo – Beating out Josh Lambo for the kicking duties, the Georgia Southern rookie has to be reliable on both PAT’s and field goals. Given the competitive nature of the AFC West battles in particular, some of those games could come down to a kick or two. If Koo proves to be the real deal, he could be the Chargers’ secret weapon.
With the new season ready to get underway, the Chargers will get a stern test against an old foe. Although Denver leads the all-time series between the two at 64-50-1, the teams split last season. If Los Angeles can get out of Denver with a win, a pair of home games await in their new 30,000-seat temporary stadium in Carson against Miami and Kansas City, respectively.
So, will this new version of Chargers football be one the fans will take to? Tune in Monday night to get a glimpse of what may be to come this season.