LA Chargers Training Camp Opens Team Has Eyes on Super Bowl
August 1, 2019
Another NFL season has begun, with the opening of NFL training games in the past week. The Los Angeles Chargers opened training camp on July 24th, with the goal of returning to the playoffs and ultimately winning their first Super Bowl Championship.
Expectations have never been higher for the Chargers. The national newspaper USA Today recently picked the Chargers to win the Super Bowl next February, beating the Philadelphia Eagles.
NFL coaches like to divide the season into quarters. With a 16-game regular season schedule, the first four games make up the critical first quarter of the season. The Chargers have started off slowly in recent seasons. In 2017, the Chargers started off 0-4 on the way to a 9-7 regular season record. In the 0-4 start, the Chargers managed to lose three straight home games.
In the 2018 season, the Chargers started off 2-2 in the first quarter of the season, losing the opening game to the Kansas City Chiefs and two of the first three games. The Chargers rallied to win six straight and 10 of 11 games to end up 12-4 in the regular season.
Unfortunately, the Chiefs were also 12-4 and won the tiebreaker for the AFC West division title. The Chiefs have started off 5-0 in each of the last two seasons, winning the AFC West both times.
Getting off to a fast start in the first quarter of the season will be imperative for the Chargers. As the Chiefs have shown the past two seasons, getting off to a fast start helps in winning the AFC West. Five of the Chargers last seven games in 2019 are division games, with three of those five division games on the road.
The final game of the season is at Kansas City. It would be in the best interest of the Chargers to have clinched the division before the final game. Winning the AFC West would guarantee at least one playoff game at home.
The Chargers are loaded with talent on both sides of the ball. Defensively, six of the eleven starters on defense have made the All-Pro or Pro Bowl teams the past two seasons. Offensively, five of their eleven starters made the All-Pro or Pro Bowl teams the past two seasons.
On special teams, punt returner Desmond King made the All-Pro team as a punt returner, in addition to his selection as an All-Pro defensive back. Adrian Phillips made both the Pro Bowl and All-Pro team as a special team's player.
Getting through training camp and the preseason without any serious injuries will be one of the first goals. There is an element of luck with that. Most of the starters will play very little in meaningless preseason games, to avoid injuries.
The preseason for the Chargers is an opportunity to fill out the roster and practice squad. It also gives the coaches a chance to develop the younger players that will contribute to this season's team.
The second goal with a roster with this much talent is winning the turnover margin. The best teams in the NFL win the turnover margin. In 2018, the top seven teams in turnover ratio made the playoffs. The Seattle Seahawks led the NFL is this category, causing 26 turnovers and turning the ball over only 11 times for a +15-turnover ratio.
The Chargers had a +1-turnover ratio during the 2018 regular season, which put them in the middle of the league in this statistical category. With their talent, if they can improve in this category, they will increase their chances of winning a Super Bowl.
The Los Angeles Rams were 3rd in turnover ratio with a +11. The New England Patriots were 5th at a +10. The Rams and the Patriots were the Super Bowl participants this past season.
In their five losses last season, including the playoff loss to the Patriots, the Chargers had a -8-turnover ratio. They created three turnovers in these five games and turned the ball over eleven times. Games in the NFL are so close that a couple of key turnovers can easily cost a team a victory.
The Chargers are 21-7 in their last 28 regular season games. That may not be enough in Southern California. With the Dodgers making the World Series the past two seasons, the Rams making the Super Bowl last season and the Lakers and Clippers adding NBA superstars to their roster, the Chargers need to win championships to keep up with the other Southern California sport franchises.