X-Factors For The Chargers Matchup With The Washington Football Team

Chase Bendel
Chargers right tackle Bryan Bulaga takes a pass wet in OTA's.

X-Factors For The Chargers Matchup With The Washington Football Team

It’s finally here, something we have anxiously waited for the past seven months, the Los Angeles Chargers are finally back! There is a lot of reason for optimism this season with their fortunate health through training camp, a new coaching staff, and an ascending young quarterback in Justin Herbert.

Their week one matchup comes against the Washington Football Team, a team that also has a lot of room for optimism this year. This is a great first game to see where the Chargers are at in many different areas. These areas will be highlighted below as x-factors for how the Chargers can beat the Football Team on Sunday.

Containing Washington’s Edge Rushers

This is the obvious one that many of us are thinking about heading into this weekend’s game. The Chargers have had so many question marks throughout the years at offensive line. Finally, for the first time in years, it seems they have the potential to have a top 10 unit.

As I previously mentioned, this is as good of an opportunity to see where this unit is at. The Washington Football Team is as good up front as any team in the NFL, anchored by edge rushers Chase Young and Montez SweatThe two players combined for 16.5 sacks last year, but that number doesn’t tell the whole story. Young really got going towards the end of the season and is one of the favorites to win Defensive Player of the Year this season.

Rashawn Slater is well known for being one of the only people to ever completely shut down Young in a game. While this does date back to the 2019 college football season, it’s a promising sign. Both Slater and Bryan Bulaga (who is healthy heading into the matchup) will have their work cut out for them, if they can limit the amount of pressure the Football Team can put on Herbert, that will be considered a win and can greatly enhance their chances of winning this game.

Limit Washington’s Explosive Plays

I’m not sure what it is or why it happens, but Ryan Fitzpatrick seems to always start every season with a new team throwing all over the field – I can recall very well a matchup between him and Drew Brees where both lit up the scoreboard when Fitzpatrick was with Tampa Bay. Games like that one are why he is best known as “Fitzmagic”.

Washington has plenty of playmakers on the field. Antonio Gibson and Terry McLaurin in particular are two of the more underrated players at their respective positions. Coupled with early-season Fitzmagic, this team is built to be explosive now.

There aren’t many teams out there with the amount of defensive talent that the Chargers have. With Joey Bosa and Derwin James leading the way, they have a great chance of being able to contain Washington’s weapons. The Chargers blitzed less than any team last season, so that will obviously be something that changes and that adversely could put more pressure on the Chargers secondary. A huge point of emphasis for the defensive backs will have to be keeping everything in front of them to limit the explosive plays.

Creativity

Whenever there is a new, young coach taking over a team, everyone always looks to how they are going to be new and innovative. I loved Anthony Lynn as a person, but unfortunately nearly every aspect of the Chargers last season was extremely vanilla and predictable. It’s why they would get blown out by well-coached teams like the 45-0 beat down by the Patriots.

It’ll be exciting to see what changes this coaching staff has implemented. I’m hoping to see that they have Herbert using his legs more often. While the Chargers ran plenty of RPOs (run-pass-options) last year, they would almost always give it to the running back. The more Herbert keeps it, the more they can keep the defense honest and open everything up.

I am most excited to see what kind of creativity Brandon Staley is going to bring this defense. Even though Staley had two elite defenders on the Rams last year, he elevated the play of several players. His main accomplishment is coaching the Rams to the best defense in the NFL. I’m interested to see how he is going to implement James and the linebackers in different blitz packages. I’m ecstatic to see how he is going to put his best players in a position to make plays.

In just a few days, the Chargers will finally begin their 2021 season and try to get back to the playoffs for the first time since the 2018-2019 season.

Final score prediction: Chargers 31, Football Team 23

Chargers right tackle Bryan Bulaga takes a pass wet in OTA’s. Via Guilty As Charged