The Los Angeles Chargers enter the 2021-22 season with high expectations. Or at least they should, given that they seem to have found their next franchise quarterback in Justin Herbert.
After being drafted sixth overall in 2020, Herbert came into his rookie year not expected to see the field. One Tyrod Taylor punctured lung later, thanks doc, and Herbert was named the Week 2 starter last season. Since then, Herbert hasn’t looked back one time.
Although Herbert finished with just a 6-9 record, the offensive Rookie of the Year set a new rookie record, throwing 31 touchdown passes. He even limited the mistakes with 10 interceptions while passing for over 4,300 yards. I’d say the Chargers have at least one position locked up for the next 10-15 years.
The Chargers did what every team should do in the offseason and made moves to protect their QB. Now it’s about building around Herbert and giving him the weapons needed to win games. If general managers and owners learned anything from the Andrew Luck situation, it’s to invest heavily in your offensive line.
The Chargers seem to have been taking notes as they spent the offseason revamping their O-line. The Chargers drafted tackle Rashawn Slater 13th overall in what some called a steal as he could have been drafted higher. In 2019 Slater allowed zero sacks for Northwestern (he was one of many players who opted out of the 2020 college football season. The Bolts also brought in free-agent All-Pro center Corey Linsley along with guards Matt Feiler and Justin Jackson.
New head coach Brandon Staley and the Chargers look to be building something in Los Angeles. The defense has some young talent, but Staley must put it together with defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill. This team ranked toward the lower third of the league in points allowed last year, giving up 26.6 points per game. The offense will need to be absolutely magnificent if that continues this year.
If Staley and Hill can get the defense to where they are allowing their opponents under 24 ppg, this Chargers team will be in good shape and have a shot at making the playoffs. I think the Chargers will be that surprise team to snag a wild-card spot in the AFC. I can also see them being one of the few teams to beat the Kansas City Chiefs this season. I think this offense will be good enough to get them a split with K.C.
Protecting that commodity at QB is the name of the game in the NFL. It looks like the Chargers got the memo and plan to follow accordingly.