The Los Angeles Chargers’ offseason program came to the end at the conclusion of last week’s minicamp.
It was an eventful and fruitful few months as the Bolts look to build off their impressive 12-4 2018 campaign.
So, what were some of the highlights?
Here are the top takeaways, biggest moves, lessons learned and more from the offseason.
Linebacker Corps Reinforced
General Manager Tom Telesco vowed to address the linebacker corps heading into the 2019 campaign after it was ravaged by injuries the previous season. True to his word, he did just that through a series of notable moves.
The biggest headline was the addition of Thomas Davis, one of the highest regarded linebackers since the moment he entered the league in 2005. The 14-year vet has totaled in 1,094 tackles, 28.0 sacks, 52 passes defensed and 13 interceptions in 176 career regular season games. His 1,094 tackles, according to press box stats, are the second-most in the NFL since he entered the league behind only Antoine Bethea, who has 1,222 in 193 games. Meanwhile, he has 1,258 career tackles according to coaches film, which is the most in Panthers history. Equally important to his production are Davis’ leadership qualities, which are truly off the charts.
In addition to adding an impactful piece through free agency, the Chargers retained one of their own biggest playmakers in Denzel Perryman, who inked a two-year deal in early March. The team’s second-round pick in 2015, Perryman has started 35 of the 42 games he’s appeared in, totaling 290 tackles, 12 tackles for loss, 4.0 sacks and two interceptions.
Finally, the team invested two of their seven draft picks on linebackers, selecting Notre Dame’s Drue Tranquill in the fourth round and Houston’s Emeke Egbule in the sixth. Those decisions, coupled with the healthy returns of athletic, speedy Jatavis Brown and Kyzir White as well as the development of Uchenna Nwosu entering his second season finds the unit accomplished Telesco’s offseason mission.
The Bolts announced some big news in April that was music to not only Chargers fans’ ears, but sports fans in general – the team’s iconic powder blue will serve as the primary jersey in 2019. Widely considered the best uniform in sports, there’s a reason why everyone loves the Powder Blues.
Two New QBs
Philip Rivers is the undisputed top dog, but the Bolts’ quarterbacks room will look awfully different. While Cardale Jones remains, the team added a pair of intriguing passers this offseason in Tyrod Taylor and Easton Stick.
Taylor is a vet entering his ninth season who brings a wealth of experience behind Rivers. The 29-year-old has appeared in 62 games with 46 career starts, completing 835 of 1,356 attempts (61.6-percent) for 9,529 yards, 53 touchdowns and 20 interceptions. Taylor’s also known for carving teams up with his legs, rushing for 1,836 yards and 16 touchdowns while averaging 5.6 yards per carry.
Meanwhile, the Bolts added an intriguing quarterback prospect in the fifth round of the draft when they selected North Dakota State’s Easton Stick. A true winner, the Bison went 43-9 with the QB at the helm. The Chargers were so enamored with Stick that Telesco said it wasn’t if the Bolts were going to select him, but a matter of when.
Monday Night in Mexico
The Chargers head out of the country once again this year when they host the rival Kansas City Chiefs at Estadio Azteca in Mexico City. Both teams tied for the best record in the AFC West (12-4), yet the Chiefs won the division due to tiebreakers. This game is a rematch from one of the best tilts of the 2018 campaign as the Chargers stormed back from down 14 to edge the Chiefs, 29-28, in the final seconds. The highly-anticipated game is set to kickoff at 5:15pm PT on Monday, Nov. 18 on ESPN.
Bolts Under the Bright Lights
Speaking of the Monday night showdown vs. the Chiefs, the Bolts were rewarded with four primetime games following their thrilling 2018 campaign. First up is a Sunday Night Football matchup in Week 6 when they host the Pittsburgh Steelers. In Week 10 they’ll head north to take on the Oakland Raiders on Thursday Night Football before their Mexico City game vs. Kansas City. Then, in Week 15, Sunday Night Football returns once more to ROKiT Field at Dignity Health Sports Park when the Minnesota Vikings head to town.
The Chargers are clearly seen as one of the NFL’s must-watch teams, so it’s feasible they can play even more primetime games over the course of the year. The four primetime games they’re currently scheduled to play would mark the first time they had that many since 2014. Meanwhile, if they get a fifth game flexed into primetime, it would be only second time in team history that occurred.
Take a detailed look at the 2019 schedule and see who the Bolts will face this season.
Free Safety Free for All
Strong safety is pretty much locked up with Pro Bowl and All-Pro Derwin James looking to take things to even further heights during his sophomore year.
However, the starting free safety spot is very much up for grabs.
Rayshawn Jenkins is among those fighting for it, and the third-year Miami product turned heads after getting the first two starts of his career during last year’s playoff run. Meanwhile, Jaylen Watkins is a fast and athletic safety who missed the entire 2018 campaign with a leg injury suffered during the preseason while the team took highly-regarded safety Nasir Adderley out of Delaware in the second-round.
The Chargers emphasized defense for the second-straight draft as five of their selections came on that side of the ball.
The Chargers selected Jerry Tillery in the first-round, which brought a smile to Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley that he simple couldn’t wipe off his face. Meanwhile, they landed Nasir Adderley in the second round, a free safety many pegged the Bolts taking in the first round. Thus, Bradley admits he was “shocked” to get their coveted safety in that spot.
After taking tackle Trey Pipkins in the third round, the team went with LB Drew Tranquill in the fourth, QB Easton Stick in the fifth, LB Emeke Egbule in the sixth and DT Cortez Broughton in the seven to round out their draft class.
Have a comment, question or idea? Sound off below!