Aug 13, 2015; San Diego, CA, USA; A helmet from a San Diego Chargers player in a preseason NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers won 17-7. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
After a big offseason of spending and watching the Kansas City Chiefs lose pieces, it’s time for the Los Angeles Chargers to step up.
As the saying goes: if not now, when?
This is the question facing the Los Angeles Chargers as their work through OTAs. Los Angeles was loaded with talent last year, having nailed the draft with rookie left tackle Rashawn Slater and corner Asante Samuel Jr., in addition to a litany of talented veterans.
Yet despite all of said talent and a relatively healthy campaign across the board, Los Angeles failed to make the playoffs. Missing the postseason was especially brutal considering how it unraveled.
The Chargers began the year 4-1 and were eventually 8-5 going into a first-place AFC West showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs on Thursday night of Week 15. However, Los Angeles blew multiple second-half leads and fell 33-27 in overtime. Instead of bouncing back, the Chargers were blown outbid the COVID-ravaged Houston Texans the following week, and although still only needing to beat the Las Vegas Raiders in Week 18, fell once more.
This offseason, general manager Tom Telesco channeled his disappointment into finding improvements. The Chargers traded for edge rusher Khalil Mack, and signed corner J.C. Jackson, linebacker Kyle Van Noy and defensive tackle Sebastian Austin-Day. All this to shore up one of the league’s worst defenses from a year ago.
Meanwhile, the six-time champions of the West lost receiver Tyreek Hill and safety Tyrann Mathieu, albeit while reloading with what is believed by most to be a dynamic draft class.
With a mega-extension looming for Los Angeles quarterback Justin Herbert after this season, it’s time for the Chargers to make their move. They’re loaded on both sides of the ball while Kansas City — still very dangerous — is retooling somewhat. The Chiefs are flush with another dozen draft picks and ample cap space next offseason. They’ll be back in full force.
It’s this season where Los Angeles could sneak in and make this a legitimate rivalry … or prove the Chiefs have nothing to worry about.
The Chargers have long been trying to find an identity with home fans and a national audience outside of choking in the worst moments. If they can’t find themselves atop the AFC West at season’s end before making a significant postseason push, the bad narratives will not only further themselves, but be validated.