When you think of those who have had a disappointing season, names such as Odell Beckham Jr., Jared Goff, or even Baker Mayfield may come to mind. However, the biggest disappointment of the 2019 NFL season is the Los Angeles Chargers. The Chargers this season have looked like a shell of their former selves. It was predicted that the Chargers would make a serious playoff run this season. However, the Chargers are currently sitting with a four-win and seven loss record. They do not even have a top ten record in the AFC, let alone a top two record in the AFC West. The Chargers are the by and far the biggest disappointment of the 2019 NFL season.
Biggest Disappointment of the 2019 NFL Season
In 2018, the Chargers were up and coming. They flashed their explosive backfield in combination with their lethal air attack. The team possessed a backfield of Pro Bowler Melvin Gordon with a backup of Austin Ekeler that could open up the entire Chargers playbook. They had a star receiver in Keenan Allen who made his second straight pro bowl after hauling in 97 passes for 1,196 yards and six touchdowns. And of course, the Chargers had the veteran, Philip Rivers, who had just earned his third straight Pro Bowl appearance. After having three Pro Bowlers on one team, one would only assume that the Chargers would continue their dominance. However, this is not the case.
The Difference A Year Can Make
The Chargers had a record of eight wins and three losses this time last year. They were moving in a positive direction. They were also excelling in a division that has reigning MVP Patrick Mahomes. Fast forward to Week 12 of 2019, and the Chargers have four wins and seven losses. They are struggling to put points on the board. The Chargers are averaging close to 20 and a half points per game. This ranks them in the bottom ten in the league for points. However, they are 13th in yards per game with 363. The Chargers also are fifth in the league in passing yards with 277 yards per game.
One significant discrepancy between this year and last year is that the Chargers were ranked fifteenth in the league in rushing in 2018. They averaged around 117 yards per game. However, the Chargers are now averaging almost 87 yards per game, which ranks them 26th in the league. This, in combination with other internal factors, has led to the rapid decline in the Charger’s organization.
Melvin Gordon’s contract holdout was one of the biggest headlines in the NFL offseason. He was fighting for a better contract, all offseason. Gordon is predicted to make close to five and a half million dollars this season. Reasonably, he believed that he should be paid more because he possesses star-caliber abilities. He realized that the Chargers would not be willing to give him the money he wanted. With this being the case, Gordon returned to the Chargers in Week four and played for the first time in Week five. Melvin Gordon’s holdout was the biggest concern and issue for the Chargers.
Gordons’ time away from the team has undoubtedly shown. He has looked a step behind and sluggish all season. Aside from his 108 rushing yards against Oakland, Gordon has been mediocre at best. In seven games, he has rushed for a total of 369 yards and has 112 receiving yards. Gordon averaged near 73 and a half rushing yards per game as well as 40 receiving yards per game in 2018. Compare this to 2019. Gordon is averaging just over 52 and a half rushing yards per game as well as 16 receiving yards per game. The differences are apparent, and Gordon must figure it out before the season ends.
Philip Rivers is the other superstar who has been underwhelming this season. Rivers has been a reliable quarterback for the Chargers. He’s been with the team since 2004 and has started every game since 2006. Statistically, this has been one of the worst seasons in his 16-year career. He has had an issue with turning the ball over. Rivers has not felt comfortable in the pocket and seems like he does not trust his receivers. Philip Rivers has 15 touchdown passes and almost as many interceptions with 14. He has seven interceptions and only three touchdowns in his last two games. Rivers is on pace to have about 20 interceptions this season. This would be one interception shy of his 21 interceptions from 2016.
Philip Rivers has not been clutch this season. The Chargers need Philip Rivers to perform in the fourth quarter when he’s needed most. The Chargers have lost by a total of 36 points in their seven losses this year. Los Angeles’ average loss has been by about five points this year. Philip Rivers needs to step up in the fourth quarter and make plays for his team to win. Philip Rivers’s fourth-quarter performance is the difference between being 11-0. Take that into consideration.
The final reason behind the Charger’s struggling season is a weak offensive line. The offensive line has been ridiculed and beaten by opposing defenses all season. When it comes down to it, lots of the Chargers issues come as a result of poor offensive line play. Running lanes cannot be opened if the offensive line does not create running lanes. Philip Rivers cannot throw the ball with opposing defenses in his face in less than three seconds. One excuse for the Chargers offensive line is that they have been wrecked by injury this season. Nevertheless, success starts at the offensive line, and when the offensive line is struggling, it is difficult to win. Period.
The Chargers have five games remaining to make the playoffs. They will need some big losses from teams in the AFC as well as some big wins against the Vikings, Chiefs, and Raiders. The Chargers have the talent to be a playoff contender. But whether they will be able to win enough games to make it to the postseason will be the main question for this Chargers team.
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