The 2020 season for the Los Angeles Chargers was one that included a lot of promise but also had plenty of heartbreak. Los Angeles blew a number of late 4th quarter leads, and that really hurt the overall record.
Quarterback Justin Herbert was named AP Offensive Rookie of the Year after a great season, and he will be back to lead the offense. Head coach Anthony Lynn was fired by the Chargers, even though the team finished with a record of 7-9.
2021 Chargers Offseason Additions
The Chargers will have a new head coach in 2021 as Brandon Staley will take over for Anthony Lynn. Staley has a background on the defensive side of the ball, and that should help the Chargers get some more stops.
The Chargers signed center Corey Linsley and guard Matt Feiler this offseason, and those moves should help provide Herbert with more protection. In the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Chargers selected Asante Samuel Jr., and he should help in the secondary.
2021 Chargers Offseason Departures
Tight end Hunter Henry will no longer be with the team in 2021 as he is now in New England. Backup quarterback Tyrod Taylor has also moved on, and that takes away some insurance for the Chargers.
Los Angeles did lose a number of defensive players in free agency, but that was a unit that needed an upgrade.
Three Key Factors to a Winning Season
No Sophomore Slump For Herbert
Justin Herbert was terrific as a rookie, but now the Chargers need him to avoid the proverbial “sophomore slump.” Herbert appears to have the talent to continue to get better, but he will face a challenge.
Stops on Defense
The defense really let the Chargers down in 2020, especially in the fourth quarter. This team is going to score points, but it is up to the defense to shut things down and protect 4th quarter leads.
Winning Close Games
This goes along with getting stops on defense, but the Chargers have to find a way to win close games. 8 of the 9 losses in 2020 were by 10 points or less, and this is an area that must improve this season. There is some luck involved when it comes to winning close games, and Los Angeles needs that luck on their side.
Rating Their Schedule
The Los Angeles Chargers get the benefit of having an easier schedule on paper after a disappointing 2020 season. Los Angeles will play every team from the AFC North this season, and that division is talented.
Los Angeles will visit the Chiefs in Kansas City in Week 3, and that will be a great early-season test for the Chargers. In Week 5, the Chargers will host the Cleveland Browns in another game against a 2020 Playoff team.
The final game of the 2021 season will take place in Las Vegas against the Raiders, and that game could have plenty of meaning for the Chargers.
Expectations in 2021
The Chargers are poised to make a big jump in 2021, especially if Herbert continues to show signs of improvement. Los Angeles should be the best team in the AFC West, and that could help them reach the playoffs in 2021.
10 wins is a real possibility for the Chargers in 2021, and that could be enough to earn them a Wild Card berth in the AFC. A lot of things will have to go right, but this team has the pieces in place to get it done.