The Chargers are set to open up the 2021 season with a road matchup against the Football Team. How does Los Angeles come away with a victory?
Here are my three keys to a Bolts win:
The offense lies in the hands of quarterback Justin Herbert, the reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year, but if there’s one thing about Football Team’s defense it’s that they’re stingy when their opponents air it out.
Washington had the No. 2 pass defense in the league last season, with the pass-rush having a big hand in that. Even with a newly revamped offensive line, the Chargers solely rely on their passing attack.
Instead, they must look to get a ground game going against a unit that allowed nearly 115 rushing yards last season to alleviate some of the pressure on Herbert and the line.
Running back Austin Ekeler’s availability is currently up in the air as he’s dealing with a hamstring issue. If he can’t go then Justin Jackson, Joshua Kelley and rookie Larry Rountree must all step up in his absence.
It’s Ryan Fitzpatrick who takes over as Washington’s signal-caller, and in order for the Chargers to have the advantage they must rain on his parade in his debut in the burgundy and gold.
The defense, which is now led by Staley after overseeing the Rams’ top-ranked unit a season ago, must force Fitzpatrick into making mistakes early and often. The veteran will not shy away from putting the ball in the air and looking to take advantage of their slew of weapons.
Staley’s emphasis on bringing heat from as many places and coverage disguise in attempt to create uncertainty for Fitzpatrick — combined with playmakers led by Derwin James, Joey Bosa, Kenneth Murray, Michael Davis, Chris Harris Jr. and rookie Asante Samuel Jr. — will be crucial.
Stay strong on special teams
A few of the Chargers’ losses from last season were attributed to a poor special teams department, whether it was poor coverage and return skills, bone-headed penalties or kicking woes.
Staley put a great emphasis on the department, bringing in Derius Swinton, who has 14 years of experience and constructing the 53-man roster with players that he felt would benefit the most.
Now with Tristan Vizcaino as the starting kicker, Nasir Adderley as the kick returner, K.J. Hill as the punt returner and a combination of some returners and new additions on coverage units, the expectation is that there will be a better product on the field.