Chargers offense looks striking with Rivers, Gordon, Allen and others capable of piling up points
You look at the offensive line that has three returning starters, adding a top-tier center and, if all goes well, integrating a stud rookie lineman.
You look at the quarterback, who will surely sidearm his way into the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day.
You look at his wide receivers, the always open go-to threat, the speedsters and the training camp star who was good enough to be drafted No. 7 overall.
You look in the backfield and see the dreadlocked power runner who can also catch the ball in the flat, and the versatile Cinderella story from the tiny college who emerged as one of the team’s scariest big-play threats.
You see all of that, and you wonder, what could go wrong?
Heading into 2018, the Chargers offense isn’t without some holes — the tight end position is still a question mark with Hunter Henry out for the season with an ACL injury.
The depth on the outside of the offensive line certainly could be stronger, and there’s that problem of finding someone to kick the ball through the uprights.
But, at least on paper, the Chargers should feel pretty good about where they’re heading in coach Anthony Lynn’s second season.
His arm strength isn’t what it once was, but he has a knack for finding a way to get the ball where it needs to go. And, with his football IQ, he can cover up for deficiencies elsewhere on the field.
Adding Mike Pouncey, coming off seven seasons with the Miami Dolphins, was the big move in free agency, giving the team an athletic center that should really help the ground attack.
“Watching from afar, you think he’s a good player, but he’s so much more than that,” offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said. “Physically, he’s a good player, but the leadership that he brings and his knowledge — those kinds of things really help.
“That line, that group of guys, there is a chemistry with them. The really good ones have a strong chemistry. Mike really contributes a lot to that.”
Pouncey should help Melvin Gordon build on his best season as a pro in 2017, when he ran for 1,105 yards and caught 58 passes for 476 more.
Add second-year back Austin Ekeler, who came out of tiny Western State to earn a spot, and the Chargers have a strong combination.
“We can be great,” Gordon said. “I feel like we could be special. We have all the tools and all the pieces, but it’s all about staying healthy.”
Last year Keenan Allen was healthy and, no hyperbole, was one of the best receivers in the NFL. Somehow, he’s been even better in training camp, seemingly always free to catch a pass from Rivers. Add developing all-around threat Tyrell Williams, a speedy Travis Benjamin and former first-round pick Mike Williams, the star of this summer’s camp, and Rivers has a loaded receiver group.
“I feel good about the projections — absolutely,” Lynn said. “We are definitely going to use them all.”
Virgil Green, signed to help in the running game alongside Henry, has surged at tight end as he has gotten more comfortable in the offense, though there’s still room for growth.
The Chargers are also hopeful the kicking competition in training camp will help them avoid last season’s mess at the position.
It all looks good — special even. Now, it’s on the Chargers to prove the projections correct.
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