Los Angeles Chargers 2018 team preview
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The Los Angeles Chargers won six of their last seven games last season to recover from a 0-4 start. They finished with a 9-7 mark, which was good for second in the AFC West. They have been a trendy pick to be a surprise team in the AFC this season. Mainly because of how they finished last season as well as how close they were in their seven losses, five of which were one-score games (eight points or less).

Here is a breakdown of the Chargers for the 2018 season.

Head Coach

Anthony Lynn is entering his second season as head coach of the Chargers. Prior to joining the Chargers, he served as the interim head coach of the Bills for one game in 2016. The Bills lost that game giving him a 9-8. Before being elevated to interim head coach, he was the assistant head coach, offensive coordinator and running backs coach of the Bills for two seasons. He also has coaching experience as the assistant head coach and running backs coach of the Jets (two seasons), running backs coach of the Jets (four), running backs coach of the Browns (two), running backs coach of the Cowboys (two), running backs of the Jaguars (two) and special teams assistant of the Broncos (three).

Draft Picks

Round 1, Pick 17 – Derwin James, S, Florida State. James is a big, fast, playmaker in the secondary. He also has leadership qualities that are unteachable. He has superstar potential.

Round 2, Pick 48 – Uchenna Nwosu, DE, USC. Nwosu has the size and speed to be a dominant pass rusher off the edge. He was inconsistent in college but has the physical tools teams covet.

Round 3, Pick 84 – Justin Jones, DT, North Carolina State. Jones is a strong nose tackle with the ability to control the line of scrimmage. He isn’t flashy but is very effective in his role.

Round 4, Pick 119 – Kyzir White, S, West Virginia. White is a big, strong defender that could excel in a hybrid role. He isn’t a great athlete but should be able to cover running backs and tight ends in underneath coverage.

Round 5, Pick 155 – Scott Quessenberry, C, UCLA. Quessenberry is a smart, technically-sound interior offensive lineman. He doesn’t have great athleticism or strength but knows how to get the job done.

Round 6, Pick 191 – Dylan Cantrell, WR, Texas Tech. Cantrell is a big possession receiver. He has decent speed and athleticism but relies on his body control and ball skills to create throwing windows for the quarterback.

Round 7, Pick 251 – Justin Jackson, RB, Northwestern. Jackson is a quick, first-step back that can make a big play. He isn’t a really big or fast runner but was very productive in the Big Ten throughout his four years in college.

Notable Additions

C Mike Pouncey (Dolphins) – Pouncey was once one of the best centers in the NFL. He has very good size and the versatility to play anywhere in the interior and probably tackle if necessary. He is a three-time Pro Bowl selection.

QB Geno Smith (Giants) – Smith has established himself as a capable backup quarterback. He has good size, accuracy, decent arm strength and enough mobility. However, he wasn’t able to put it together as a starter in 2013 and 2014.

K Caleb Sturgis (Eagles) – Sturgis has a good leg with improving accuracy. He also is reliable on extra points. He has seen his field goal percentage increase each of his first four seasons in the NFL with the Dolphins and Eagles and has made 140-of-144 extra point attempts.

Projected Starters

Offense

Quarterback – 17 Philip Rivers; Running Back – 28 Melvin Gordon; Wide Receiver – 13 Keenan Allen; Wide Receiver – 16 Tyrell Williams; Wide Receiver – 81 Mike Williams; Tight End – 88 Virgil Green; Left Tackle – 76 Russell Okung; Left Guard – 66 Dan Feeney; Center – 53 Mike Pouncey; Right Guard – 77 Forrest Lamp; Right Tackle – 72 Joe Barksdale

Defense

Defensive End – 99 Joey Bosa; Defensive End – 54 Melvin Ingram; Defensive Tackle – 92 Brandon Mebane; Defensive Tackle – 94 Corey Liuget; Linebacker – 52 Denzel Perryman; Linebacker – 50 Hayes Pullard; Linebacker – 51 Kyle Emanuel; Cornerback – 26 Casey Hayward; Cornerback – 20 Desmond King; Safety – 33 Derwin James; Safety – 31 Adrian Phillips

Specialists

Kicker – 6 Caleb Sturgis; Punter – 8 Drew Kaser; Long Snapper – 47 Mike Windt

Biggest Question

Can the Chargers finally find ways to win the game in the fourth quarter, instead of finding ways to lose?

The Chargers have developed a reputation as a team that cannot win close games. They have found ways to lose rather than win them. Over the last three years, they have lost 24 games by eight points or less. That is 77.4 percent of their losses in that span.

To Answer That Question

Yes

The Chargers are a better team this year. It is the most talented squad they have had in several years, probably since the last time they won the division, 2009. Of course, we won’t know that they can overcome their own history until they do it, but this looks like the year they do.

Outlook

The Chargers are the “it” team that many experts believe will win the AFC West. They have a good reason. The Chargers are the most talented team in the division and their oppositions made big changes at quarterback or the coaching staff this offseason. The Chargers should reach double digits in victories win the division and a wild-card game at home before winning a divisional round game on the road and losing on the road in the AFC title game.