A season gone rogue

Looking over the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars AFC Wildcard Playoff disaster of a professional football game Sunday afternoon, one have to wonder what kind of damage the Los Angeles Chargers would have done if they had gotten an invite to the postseason party. My bet is that the Chargers would have scored more than the three points that the Bills scored against the Jaguars.

I have a hunch that Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers would have probably passed for more yards in a quarter than what Jacksonville quarterback Blake Bortles (87 yards) managed to do in an entire game against Buffalo. This was as ugly a game to watch as you’ll ever see. It was that pathetic. Another deserving team should be playing in Jacksonville’s place. That team should be the Chargers.

Casey Hayward (26) of the San Diego Chargers is having a stellar season that has been rewarded with a Pro Bowl nod. Photo by Leon Bennett/News4usonline.com

The Chargers won nine of their last 12 games to finish the season with a 9-7 record, closing out their strong rush to the finish line with a 30-10 win against AFC West Division rival Oakland Raiders.

“Well, I don’t know why I’m standing up here like we lost the game,” Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said after the victory against the Raiders. “We won the game. I thought the guys went out there and finished. They played hard. These last 12 weeks—I think they’ve won nine out of the last 12—I think they showed what type of team they are after starting out 0-4. Disappointing we didn’t make it to the postseason, but we couldn’t control any of that. All we could control is what we did today with the Oakland Raiders. I was proud of the way they came out and fought, and the way they played.”

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers passed for 344 yards and one touchdown against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. File Photo/Credit: Mark Hammond for News4usonline

Had it not been for an 0-4 start to the 2017 NFL season, the Chargers would be making a lot of noise right about now. And the numbers don’t lie. The Chargers finished the season as the top-ranked passing attack in the National Football League and concluded the year No. 4 in total offense. On the other side of the ball, the Chargers were third in the league in pass defense. That’s not to mention the intimidation element that edge rushers Melvin Ingram (10.5 sacks) and Joey Bosa (12.5 sacks) contributed to the Chargers defensive success.

“I think this team can become a championship team,” Lynn said. “That’s what I believe. They showed me that throughout the season, and that’s the type of culture that we’re building here. I wish it would have happened a little sooner, but I think we’re putting it in the right direction. I think we’re on to something.”

Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen (13) caught a 7-yard touchdown throw from Philip Rivers in LA’s 19-10 win against the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, Dec. 3, 2017. File Photo/Credit Mark Hammond for News4usonline

The right direction begins with Rivers, who passed for 4,515 yards and 28 touchdowns on the season. HIs favorite target is no longer the ageless Antonio Gates. Keenan Allen, after going down with an injury in 2016, played like a man on fire, catching a team-record 102 passes for 1,393 yards and being Rivers’ personal security blanket.

“I think it’s reset,” Rivers said. “I’m not big on momentum, but I think you see a team now that in the previous two years was a team that can’t win a close game, all that still hanging over you. This coming offseason, it will be a team that finished winning nine in 12, these guys that can rush the pass, had a guy that caught 100 passes, guys that get speed on the outside, going to have a young, healthy, hopefully, Mike Williams. Gosh, the offensive line was unbelievable. Fewest sacks we’ve had in I don’t know how many years? I don’t know, long time. There are a lot of things they’re going to say that are positive.”

The outlook of the Chargers do look bright. The relocation move from San Diego to playing at StubHub Center in Carson was a good look for the team to re-establish its fan base. By 2020, when the Chargers move into the LA Stadium in Inglewood, the team’s fan base-in Los Angeles and Orange counties-is expected to expand. That’s because the Chargers have an exciting brand of football to watch. Unlike what Jacksonville has.

When you have a quarterback that runs (88 yards) for more yards than you throw (87 yards) in an NFL game, a playoff contest no-less, chances are that not too many games will be won that way.  The Jaguars escaped from their encounter with the Bills. If they had played the Chargers, chances are that LA would have smoked Jacksonville. But that would be just like wishing on a star.

It is neither here or there, and the Chargers are sitting at home watching the postseason just like the rest of us.

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