The first quarter of the season is in the books and fans have been left with mixed emotions. After a wild four weeks filled with injuries and headlines, the Chargers stumbled along and have managed a 1-3 start to the season. Close wins can provide optimism, but close isn’t going to cut it. Although the Chargers have dug themselves in a hole, they can dig themselves out. Below I highlight five reasons for optimism after a 1-3 start from the Chargers.
Chargers Five Reasons For Optimism After A 1-3 Start
1. Herb’s Show
Although all three games Herbert has played in have been losses, he’s shown improvement in each game and went throw for throw with Mahomes and Brady. As a result, Herbert has been handed the reigns and it’s his time to cook. A good showing against the Drew Brees lead Saints will only add fuel to Herbert’s hype.
As of right now, Herbert has the third-best odds to win the rookie of the year award. Herbert has received praise from players and coaches all over the league. Not only has he shown the ability to make plays under pressure (1st in yards, 3rd in completion percentage, and 5th in passer rating), he’s also posted a 72% completion rating throughout his three starts. Herbert is also averaging two total touchdowns a game along with 319 yards of total offense. With Ekeler out for at least three weeks, I think it’s time to let Herb cook.
Many fans, including myself, expected the Chargers to blow out the Panthers after a shootout with the reigning Super Bowl champions the week prior. Instead, they disappointed with a slow start on both sides of the ball and crushing turnovers. Although Herbert was sacked twice, it seemed like he was under constant pressure from a young defense that was unable to record a sack during the first two weeks of the season. The thought of trotting out that same offensive line against a Buccaneers defense that managed to record 12 sacks throughout the first three weeks seemed like a disaster waiting to happen.
Instead, the offensive line managed to keep Herbert upright for most of the game. This was due to Lynn and Steichen adapting to their opponent’s strengths and weaknesses. By calling plays aimed at getting the ball out of Herbert’s hands quickly, the quarterback was able to complete 80% of his passes for 290 yards and three touchdowns.
The team was able to pick up huge chunks of yardage when the defense dialed up all-out blitzes. Herbert actually leads the league in touchdowns over 50 yards (2) and managed to pick them both up in that game (53 and 72 yards). Lynn and his coaching staff may deserve some of the flack they get for their questionable calls during games, but their game planning leading up to their matchups and their ability to adapt to their opponents each week is a reason to remain optimistic for the rest of the season.
3. Strength Of Schedule
The Chargers are on pace for a 4-12 record this season. Before you call it a season and start searching up mock draft simulators, realize that after they play the Saints, the Chargers will have made it through the toughest stretch of their season. Through four games, they’ve played teams with a combined record of 11-8-1. The opponents the rest of the way have combined for a 23-32 record. Breaking it down throughout the next three-quarters of the season, that’s a 5-14, 10-7, and 8-11 record respectively. That makes the Chargers’ remaining schedule more than manageable for a playoff run.
4. Health Of The Team
The Chargers have unsurprisingly been plagued by injuries this year, losing Derwin James, Drue Tranquill, and Mike Pouncey for the season. The team also placed Justin Jones, Melvin Ingram, Chris Harris, and Austin Ekeler on injured reserve. When you consider the fact that the Chargers have also played much of the season without their newly acquired starting offensive linemen, Bryan Bulaga and Trai Turner, it’s hard to disagree with the notion that luck has not been on the side of the Chargers.
Thankfully for the Chargers though, a new rule due to COVID-19 has given every team the ability to activate an unlimited amount of players from the injured reserve. With an early bye in week six, the Chargers could get healthy and start upgrading their team as the season progresses. A team that looks like it might start putting it all together may be getting upgrades at running back, corner, and along the defensive and offensive lines.
5. Been Here Before
Casual fans will be quick to dismiss the Chargers this season after a 1-3 start. However, fans of this team know better than to count out the Chargers. After all, in Anthony Lynn‘s first season as the head coach, the team quickly found themselves in a hole after starting the season 0-4. Although the Chargers were unable to make the playoffs after finishing with a 9-7 record, they seemed like the team that no one wanted to play. Everything was clicking towards the end of the season and if it weren’t for some unfortunate circumstances in week 17, the Chargers would have found themselves with a wild card spot after an 0-4 start. While this is not the same team and there is a rookie quarterback under center, Lynn and the veteran players on the team have been in the same situation before. With a better start this year at 1-3, fans should expect a better finish to the season.