Updated: Feb 2
The Chargers this year looked different. Felt different. Became different. This change can be seen with each performance the team gave this season, taking everything they had onto the field, and leaving it there.
As this team develops, they continue to gel together under an aggressive mindset that has now become the core identity of this franchise. “I’m gonna fight for you” safety Derwin James told head coach Brandon Staley in a gritty "Mic’d Up" video versus the Denver Broncos.
And fight they did.
This epitomized what many players said about Staley in their post-game press conferences. They broadcasted their confidence in him. One can imagine them radiating with pride.
As Staley prioritized the offense this past year, he and General Manager Tom Telesco ought to focus on the defense this offseason. Staley must lay out the blueprints and show Telesco how the defense can be shored up for this team to become a force and magnet to the AFC West title and Lombardi trophy.
This team is becoming a dam, holding back the surge of opposition that comes flooding its way. Plugging up the holes exposed this year will surely achieve what it desires.
Rookie head coaches have often strayed away from the current, leading themselves to the dark depths of mediocrity and losing records. One needs to look no further than former Jacksonville head coach Urban Meyer to illustrate this. But Staley has shown he can adjust his sails and stay in the current by making adjustments where necessary.
In evidence are the midseason acquisitions of return specialist Andre Roberts and kicker Dustin Hopkins. Staley's game plan--on all sides of the ball--caught noteworthy teams by surprise, specifically the Kansas City Chiefs and Cincinnati Bengals who play for the AFC Championship this weekend.
Staley's aggressive, dynamic offense put up 47 points against the Cleveland Browns. It was Staley's game plan and coaching scheme which caused this: the Browns are the only team to lose a regular-season game after scoring more than 40 points and securing over 500 yards. Teams on both sides of this statistic are rid of any company.
So long as Staley and Telesco can identify where the defense, certain areas of offense and special teams need improvement--and have the options to choose from with free agency and the draft--then we can trust they will make the beneficial changes required.
Chargers fans starving for any confirmation of this were justly rewarded in mid-January when Staley told the press that the defensive front will be at the “center of the team’s thought processes this offseason”. This will no doubt soothe many feathers that were ruffled by embarrassing defensive statistics over the last year.
As Staley followed through on his bid to improve the offense last off season and tailor it to Herbert’s strengths, Chargers fans can breathe a sigh of relief: it appears he will continue to be a man of his word. With one more off season to show his worth and investment in the team, we hope Telesco will follow suit.
What does all this mean for Los Angeles? It shows that the Chargers have woken up. After a long, uneasy slumber, the team has set its feet in the earth and is ready to charge head-on against any opposition that comes their way. Resolute leadership from players like Herbert and James displayed a fiery passion that will fortify this team for years to come.
With improved game planning, depth and more valuable acquisitions, the Chargers can run rings around opposing teams, leaving walls of dust to settle on the ground after they’ve gone.
This Chargers team has a fresh mentality of camaraderie, accountability and drive which will provide the team and fans with a renewed hunger for a dominating run--one that ought to last well into the post season next year. But it will require belief.
A time will soon come when teams will amble their way through their schedules, but facing the Chargers will be the one bullet in the chamber of this Russian roulette that is the NFL.
“The secret of change is to fo