The future appears bright for the Bolts.
ESPN recently released its future power rankings— a comprehensive look at where the team could be over the next three seasons — with the Chargers coming in at the No. 5 spot.
ESPN's expert panel of Jeremy Fowler, Louis Riddick, Seth Walder and Field Yates used a 100-point scale to rate each team's quarterback situation, remaining (non-QB) roster, drafting ability, front office and coaching using this scale.
The Chargers ended up with a cumulative score of 86.6, with Yates noting the presence of quarterback Justin Herbert and others has the Bolts strongly positioned for the long haul.
The rise of the Chargers since drafting Justin Herbert should only continue this year, as the team not only should see yet another leap forward by its prodigious quarterback but also enjoy improvements on both sides of the ball after an aggressive offseason. And while Herbert alone is reason for optimism, Los Angeles also has a collection of blue-chippers that will make up the core going forward. This could be the season the Bolts graduate to the elite tier of the NFL.
In terms of an area to improve, Riddick went with coaching, but even he said he was nitpicking in that regard.
Let the record show that I am a Brandon Staley fan. But that said, his aggressive, analytical, probability-driven coaching style is not for the faint of heart. You could argue that some in-game decision-making/risk-taking might have cost them in 2021, even though the Chargers set the single-season NFL record with 22 successful fourth-down conversions on 34 attempts. Until Staley leads this very good roster to the playoffs and a playoff victory, he will remain the biggest question mark.
Fowler said he's most interested to see how the Chargers navigate Herbert's contract in the coming seasons, while Walder noted that a pair of defensive offseason additions — J.C. Jackson and Kyle Van Noy — should pay dividends early on.
Cornerback J.C. Jackson ranked second, behind only A.J. Terrell, among outside corners last season in expected pointed added allowed (minus-27.1), per NFL Next Gen Stats. And Kyle Van Noy led all linebackers with at least 200 coverage snaps in yards per coverage snap allowed (0.4). The two former Patriots should help boost what was a lackluster defensive unit.
Overall, the Chargers ranked second in non-QB roster, were third at the QB spot and placed fifth in terms of drafting ability.
The Bills, Chiefs, Packers and Rams made up the first four teams on ESPN's list.
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