The Jets, now in evaluation mode, will take on the 7-7 Los Angeles Chargers, who are in panic mode as they need two consecutive wins to maintain an outside chance at the playoffs. For the Jets, it will be their last home game of the year, a place where they have been solidly successful this year at 4-3 against a brutal slate of opponents.
To preview the clash of two teams with in very different positions, I asked Richard Wade from Bolts From The Blue a few questions on the Chargers heading into the matchup.
1. What is the longterm state of the Chargers franchise? Is the window closing, or do they have enough in place to stay in contention for years to come?
The Chargers find themselves in a weird place. They have an excellent core on defense with Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Casey Hayward, and Trevor Williams being the standout players. Philip Rivers is, for the moment, a franchise quarterback. The offense has some very good skill position players in Hunter Henry and Keenan Allen. They drafted two offensive linemen this past year that could be very good for years to come. They blew it this year by starting the season 0-4. It left them no room for error and then this past weekend they stepped in it. Now, Rivers will be another year closer to retirement and the team will be forced with the decision of whether or not to spend a 1st round pick on a quarterback. So, a window is closing, but they also have pieces in place to contend, but it will rely on answering the quarterback question correctly.
2. How has Philip Rivers progressed into the later stages of his career? Is he an elite level quarterback? How much longer can we expect him to be with the team?
Statistically, Rivers is having one of the best seasons of his career. Even after Saturday's terrible game, he sits in 4th in both DVOA and DYAR. Before that game, he was in 1st and 2nd respectively. I'm not sure what the cutoff for being elite is, but being one of the five most productive and most efficient quarterbacks is in the NFL is pretty good. I tend to think he only has one more year left in him and I have a hard time seeing the team retaining him past the end of his current deal which concludes after 2019 and has an out after 2018.
3. Tell us about the Chargers defense. What makes the duo of Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa so dominant, and where do the strengths and weaknesses of the unit lie outside of those two?
Bosa is arguably one of the five best defensive players in the NFL at this point and Ingram is one of the best pass rushers in the league. When you start off with the best pass rushing duo, it can hide a lot of weaknesses. The Chargers' defense has plenty of them. In spite of what PFF will tell you, their safeties are not particularly good. They're not terrible, but they are also not very good. The linebackers are a bit of a mess outside of Denzel Perryman and he struggles to stay healthy. The cornerbacks are the main strength of the defense outside of the pass rush. Hayward, Williams, and Desmond King are about as good as it gets. Hayward, in particular, has played like the best cornerback in the league this year. He's currently coping with a calf injury, but he's still excellent.
4. How has Anthony Lynn done in his first season, and what has the fan response to his performance been?
Anthony Lynn started the season looking every bit a rookie head coach. He made poor challenge decisions. His clock management was laughably bad. He attempted field goals when he should have gone for it on 4th downs. But, as the season has progressed, Lynn has improved in most if not all of those areas. He remains a work in progress, but his improvement is very encouraging. More importantly, though, he really seems to be changing the culture of the team. Given another offseason to get his own players in, I will be excited to see what he can do next year.
5. From your point of view, how has the Los Angeles move gone? Do you think the Chargers have gained any sort of significant steam in terms of fan support in the L.A. area? Has San Diego seen more fans spurn the team or stick with them?
The move to Los Angeles has not gone well. Most people in Los Angeles still do not care about the Chargers at all. A very large portion of their existing fanbase from San Diego has given up on them, given up on the NFL, or are actively rooting against them. The fanbase is smaller and less invested than in past years. I doubt it will help that the other Los Angeles team is more fun to watch and is having more success. It will be very interesting to see what they are able to do about fan support moving forward.
Will you be rooting for the Jets this Sunday?
This poll is closed
Absolutely! Are you kidding me?
I guess so. . .
Just watching and accepting the outcome
Tank season! Go Chargers!