Chargers Defeat 49ers in Final Preseason Game
Face Colts in Season Opener
September 5, 2019
The Los Angeles Chargers finally wrapped up the preseason on Thursday in San Francisco against the 49ers, winning 27-24 behind the passing and running of quarterback Cardale Jones. He completed 10 of 16 passes for 149 yards and rushed for 23 yards and one touchdown.
Jones led the Chargers to scores on the first four offensive possessions of the game. Unfortunately, a few days later, Jones was released in the cutdown to 53 players.
The win gave the Chargers a 1-3 record for the preseason. Two days after the victory, the Chargers released 37 players to get the roster down to the NFL required 53 for the regular season. The Chargers did resign nine of the players cut to the practice squad. The Chargers now move on to the regular season with the goal of winning the AFC West.
In 2018, the Chargers tied with the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC West division lead at 12-4. The Chargers split their two games with the Chiefs, but the Chiefs had a better division record than the Chargers. The Chiefs were awarded the division title and a first-round bye in the playoffs.
They also had the best record in the AFC West, which gave them home-field advantage in the playoffs. The Chargers ended up as wild card entry to the playoffs, with all playoff games on the road.
The Chargers need to win the division this season and they should win the division this season. They are the most complete team in the NFL. The Chiefs are an offensive juggernaut, ranking #1 in total offensive in the NFL in 2018.
But they also ranked #31 in total defense out of 32 teams. The defense may improve with a new defensive coordinator, but the talent is just not there defensively for a significant improvement.
The other two teams in the AFC West are the Oakland Raiders and the Denver Broncos. The Raiders made a slew of changes in the offseason, among them, adding superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown, former Charger wide receiver Tyrell Williams and three first round picks. They will be much tougher this season. The Broncos will have a tough defense, a good running game and a veteran quarterback in Joe Flacco.
The quarterback quality in the division makes this a very competitive division. All four starting quarterbacks in the AFC West have led their teams to the playoffs in the past. Flacco won a Super Bowl with Baltimore.
Quarterback Derek Carr led the Raiders to the playoffs in 2016, Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes took the Chiefs to the AFC Championship games last season and Philip Rivers has led the Chargers to the playoffs six times, with the most recent being last season.
The Chargers are loaded on both sides of the ball. They have a future Hall of Fame quarterback in Rivers. He has passed for 4,000 or more yards six straight seasons and 10 of the last 11 seasons. Starting wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams combined for 16 touchdown receptions. Starting tight end Hunter Henry, who missed last season because of a knee injury, caught 12 touchdown passes in his first two seasons. He has looked good in preseason action.
The defense is loaded with talent. The Chargers have arguably the best pass rushing duo in the NFL in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. The secondary is led by All-Pro cornerbacks Casey Hayward and Desmond King. The defense added veteran All-Pro linebacker Thomas Davis. King was also an All-Pro punt returner and safety Adrian Phillips made the All-Pro teams for his special teams play.
With a talented group of players, the Chargers will need to find a way to pay this talent when they are eligible for free agency. Therein lies the biggest problem for the Chargers moving forward. Rivers and Hunter are free agents after the season and the Chargers will not want to lose either.
Allen will be a free agent after the 2020 season, as will Bosa, Ingram, King and center Mike Pouncey. Which makes the Melvin Gordon holdout difficult to resolve. There may not enough money to sign every free agent.
Gordon, a two-time pro bowl running back, is in the last year of a five-year contract that pays him $5.6 million. He wants a new contract that pays him what he feels he is worth. He is currently holding out, has not reported and will miss this week's first game, worth $350,000 in salary. He will be replaced in the lineup by backup running backs Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson.
The Chargers announced that they have ended contract negotiations with Gordon until the end of the season. Gordon has also been given permission to seek out a trade with another team. Reportedly, the Chargers are seeking a first and a fifth-round draft pick for Gordon. This needs to get resolved, either with a trade or Gordon reporting to team headquarters in Costa Mesa. It is a distraction that is not needed.
The Chargers will also be missing Derwin James, their rookie star safety, due to a stress fracture in his right foot. James will miss the first eight games, but he should be back for the last eight games. Starting left tackle Russell Okung will miss at least the first six weeks due to a pulmonary embolism caused by blood clots.
The Chargers will play the Indianapolis Colts at home Sunday to open the 2019 NFL season. The game will be played at the Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson at 1 p.m.