Some people are fans of the Los Angeles Chargers. But many, many more people are NOT fans of the Los Angeles Chargers. This 2021 Defector NFL team preview is for those in the latter group. Read all the previews so far here.
Your team: Los Angeles Chargers.
Your 2020 record: 7-9. Oh, but what a nine! Gaze in wide wonder as the Chargers call a run (?) at the 8-yard line with no timeouts left to blow a game against the Falcons (???)! Feel your heart soar as Chargers team doctors pull an Ides of March and stab their own QB in the lung! Step right up and feast thine eyes on ANOTHER horrifying running call with no timeouts left! Feel your nipples tighten with anticipation as they forget to have 11 men on the field MULTIPLE times!
No team in football gives every other team their money’s worth like the Chargers do. I’m a Vikings fan. They’re amateurs by comparison. When you want the late-game equivalent of a meteorite hitting a day care center, accept no substitutes. If the Chargers worked a drive-thru, you’d arrive home with a bag full of empty taco shells and a roach salad. They’re just that good.
Your coach: It’s Brandon Staley, who was a coordinator for exactly one year before having a crosstown head coaching gig gifted to him. In fact, Staley has only coached in the NFL for four years, working at MEGABUCKS college programs like John Carroll, James Madison, and St. Thomas before that. I had to look up St. Thomas for this and was disappointed it wasn’t located on the Caribbean island. What a ripoff.
Now you might think to yourself, “Well look Drew, Staley has to be an improvement over Anthony Lynn.” You might even insist that Staley’s small college tour is actually a GOOD thing because it means he’s super smart, just like Matt Patricia was. But let’s go back for a moment and look at every other supposedly promising new coach the Chargers have employed since Don Coryell left:
Dan Henning. Loser. Looked like he ran a bait shop.
Bobby Ross. Red-assed fucker with a 1902 brain whom everyone openly despised. Stood by helplessly as his team got fucked by a log in the only Super Bowl they’ll ever play in.
Kevin Gilbride. Can’t take a punch.
Mike Riley. Oregon State coach for life.
Marty Schottenheimer. Did you not just read all that shit about running the ball when you’re not supposed to?
Norv Turner. Was Norv Turner.
Mike McCoy. What if Mike Riley had been even LESS effective?
Anthony Lynn. Tells time by staring at the sun.
I sense a pattern here. Do you sense a pattern? Staley comes from the Rams, and the whole idea of that organization being a magical coaching prodigy factory blew up in February of 2019. Sean McVay is a fraud and his coaching tree is a kitchen window basil plant that dies three days after you buy it. Brandon Staley isn’t even the best STALEY in the coaching profession right now. So fuck off with him. He’s gonna get up at that podium and be like HEY GUYS HERE’S A PLAY FROM A YEAR AGO I REMEMBER REALLY WELL, and Dan Orlovsky will be like I WANT YOU TO HEAR WHAT BRANDON STALEY IS SAYING HERE BECAUSE THIS GUY MUST BE A ROCKET SCIENTIST OR SOMETHING. All bullshit.
Do they have a Guy on the coaching staff? No one rings a bell.
Your quarterback: Justin Herbert, who’s a perfect heir to Philip Rivers in that he’s really good, he’ll play with the Chargers forever, and all of it will add up to absolute dick. Herbert is destined to be the next guy who makes you say, “Damn, he threw 38 TDs this year?” at the end of every season and then you never think of him again. Imagine the Packers’ good fortune with quarterbacks, only NOTHING comes of it. There you are.
Your backup is immortal money gatherer Chase Daniel. The man should give a seminar.
What’s new that sucks: As of this writing, the Chargers have yet to experience their annual horrifying preseason injury to a defensive starter. No Chargers season truly begins until someone like Derwin James gets his leg caught in the teeth of a moving escalator, so we’re still in the minicamp phase of the proceedings. The Chargers added a small amount of talent in Jared Cook, Kyler Fackrell, and Northwestern OT Rashawn Slater. That’s the good news. The bad news is that the defensive line, the secondary, and the rest of the O-line were all utterly decimated by free agency losses, so Staley will be presiding over an even worse roster than the one Lynn drove into an embankment.
Asante Samuel Jr. is here now and brings with him all of his father’s lessons in dropping critical interceptions. No better match of talent and organization.
What has always sucked: I’d like to show you the best tweet of the year. Trust me, it’ll prove relevant in just a moment.
That’s you, Chargers. You are the Los Angeles Chargers of Inglewood. You have one of the best rookie quarterbacks I’ve ever seen. You have the slightly more tolerable Bosa, provided he doesn’t fracture his bladder or something a week from now. You have Keenan Allen, who’ll put up 110/1300/10 every season until he’s fucking 80. You have incredible young talents like Slater and James. And you have the best uniforms in football history. Now here’s what all of that will amount to: NOTHING. Not a single goddamn thing. Not a single important victory. Not a single new fan. Not even a rambunctious First Take segment.
Back in Marmalard’s heyday, you could count on the Chargers pulling off the occasional playoff upset before choking on their own spinal fluid in the later rounds. This was back when the Chargers had their own city. And fans. And any semblance of pride. That’s all gone now. This current iteration of the Chargers is an extinction-level football event. Dean Spanos doesn’t have to give a shit anymore. He made the team move, and now he lives in a bedroom under Stan Kroenke’s staircase. Now he gets to spend the rest of his life pleading with bouncers to check the list again for his name while the Chargers become a black hole where some of the brightest talents in the NFL are reduced to cosmic dust.
This team plays in Los Angeles, mind you. True, they play in the L.A. equivalent of East Elmhurst, but it’s still L.A. They don’t play in Temecula. They have the talent and the exposure to be both good AND notorious. They will never be either. Every week, Herbert will throw for 350 and change, Austin Ekeler will score four touchdowns four different ways, Bosa will foil a presidential assassination attempt with a bull rush, and the Chargers will lose 37-36 after a botched fake PAT. All of that will be remanded to the last 60 seconds of NFL Primetime. Eight people will have been in attendance. I look at this franchise and all I see is waste. Cheering for them is like being a diehard fan of a TNT original series.
Mike Williams is a bust. Your special teams are a toilet.
Ratto says: The team most likely to leave Los Angeles in order to move to Los Angeles. Like the Broncos, their owner Dean Spanos has his sister, Dea (honest to Baal, it’s Dean without the -n) Spanos Berberian, suing to force a sale of the team to re-fund the charitable foundations she claims are in the red. Again, HER NAME COMES FROM HER BROTHER’S NAME, ONLY HER PARENTS WERE TOO EXHAUSTED TO TYPE THE FOURTH LETTER. This explains everything that is the Chargers since Lance Alworth retired. BEST NAME TO HEAR ON TV: Of course, it’s Dea Berberian.
What might not suck: If you can’t see the fantasy value on this roster, you must be Matthew Berry’s ex-wife. Your ignorance is excused.
HEAR IT FROM CHARGERS FANS!
The Los Angeles Chargers are the NFL equivalent of the European Super League, a pure money grab that only sounded good to out-of-touch billionaires. Only, because it’s America, they just went ahead and did it anyway. And because Dean Spanos is a fucking moron, he forgot to do the part where they make more money.
I had a friend in middle school math class 15 years ago and the only thing that still keeps us in touch is commiserating over the Chargers’ spectacular collapses. So shout out to the Chargers for keeping our friendship alive.
Every year I have to see the Chargers put together a solid roster and listen to all the analyst pick them as the up and coming team who makes the jump to contender, knowing full well they are going to choke away game after game in ways so spectacular and inexplicable that only a Falcons fan could understand the pain of watching it unfold. The worst part is, they gave me a free pass to quit this team a few years ago when they abandoned the city, but like any true masochist, I’m too addicted to the pain to leave this toxic relationship.
Previous submissions tell me that the venn diagram of Chargers fans and people who read an edgy sports/culture site run by an ex-management consultant in a non-ironic way is VERY SMALL, so it’s my duty to help you with the word count.
I went for the Chargers growing up out here because Phil Rivers was my role model. Hurl the ball in an ungainly way but somehow hit V-Jax or Gates downfield somewhere. Throw a pick or an incompletion and then proceed to scream at the men who protect your life and humiliate them in public. The man was equal parts incredible and idiot, the best we can realistically aspire to be.
When I first visited San Diego I thought it was heaven on earth. I was not surprised when the team got moved to an overrated, superficial town where nobody cared about them because the Chargers organization can’t even get obvious decisions right.
Dean Spanos can’t even manage family dinner without a bunfight breaking out. Little wonder why Chargers fans feel nothing but an impending sense of doom. Even when we were smart (that playoff game against the Ravens when we played all DBs against Lamar) we fell down flat on our faces (trying exactly the same tactic against Bill Belichick the week after, hoping he decided to take the week off from game prep).
Justin Herbert is a stud. Please give us hope.
The medical staff for this team attempted to murder our starting quarterback 10 minutes before kickoff. Putin is envious of the ruthless efficiency in which our medical unit can debilitate its own players. It’s a miracle they haven’t poisoned Herbert with novichok yet (still early).
They now seem like lovable losers, and as much as I’d love to root for them again, why even bother. Their eventual flirtation with complex mathematical playoff scenarios always ends in the same wet fart, no matter what city or stadium they’re in. Send them to Missouri, since anything thoroughly mediocre will seem amazing amidst that forsaken place. I’m sure the Spanos family’s politics will fit right in.
The Chargers are pioneers of finding new ways to lose games, so I fully expect them to be the first team to forfeit a game because of a COVID outbreak. It’s easy to shame them for being among the bottom of the league for vaccination rate but, to be fair, the last time someone on that medical staff administered a shot to a player, they almost killed their starting QB by puncturing his lung (which also happens to somehow be the greatest moment of the last half decade because it gave Justin Herbert the starting job).
I grew up in San Diego and have worked in Oakland for the last six years. My colleagues almost all grew up in the East Bay and have lived there all their lives. I have no doubt one of them is secretly the gorilla guy you see in the Black Hole. Their team, the Raiders, abandoned them TWICE and they haven’t been competitively relevant for two decades. But whenever we talk about football and I mention being a Chargers fan, the look in their eyes is pure pity. The worst part is I’m not sure what the pity is for; the move to LA, the fact the Chargers find new, inventive ways to lose games, or the fact they get your hopes up every season then make damn sure those hopes get thrown directly into the sun in the most hurtful way possible.
Being an East Coast Chargers Fan should mean that the move to LA shouldn’t matter to me that much. But I’m still gutted that they aren’t in San Diego, even as it approaches FIVE YEARS since they left.
I can’t bring myself to wear any of their merch, despite their colors being a consensus pick for some of the best in the league.
I’m secretly more excited that the USFL restarting means there will be a new San Diego football team. (RIP the AAF and the Fleet)
It’s pure schadenfreude that their home games seemed stacked for the visiting team during a global pandemic than they did when they played in a 25,000-seat soccer stadium with a dumb name.
San Diego is better off without the Chargers. The only remaining traces of them are a minority owner’s old restaurant (abandoned since the ‘80s because he hated the gay people that moved into the neighborhood), and the homeless people that wear the old Chargers jerseys that were collected by the Padres and donated.
When your NFL team threatens relocation, and they will, consider it mercy. See it as a burden taken off your community’s shoulders. Let them go, and spare yourself the indignity of trying to care about the Las Vegas Dolphins or Los Angeles Texans or whatever.
Last season, this rotten club ruined one of the best rookie quarterback seasons ever by:
– Failing to improve the offensive line at all, resulting in the unit being the 31st best in the NFL.
– Having, by all metrics, the worst season of special teams in league history by a sizable margin.
– Somehow building 16-point leads in four straight games and blowing all of them, including a 24-3 lead in the 3rd quarter against Drew fucking Lock and his 85th string wide receivers.
– Trying to run a QB sneak from a pass protection setup, which allowed the Bills rushers to utterly clobber Justin Herbert as his “line” stood around like lobotomized gargoyles.
– Watching their all-time great QB Rivers, who was unceremoniously run out of town last season after blaming him for all their woes, perform at a high level despite being one year older and playing on a pegleg most of that year.
Somehow, that cursed year doesn’t even crack the top five most painful Chargers seasons in my lifetime.
Fuck Marlon McCree’s soap-covered hands, fuck LaDanian Tomlinson’s knee, fuck Nate Kaeding, fuck our teenage GM Tom Telesco, and fuck the Shit Family Robinson that is the Spanos brood. I hope I live long enough to see Dean publicly executed atop the rubble of Qualcomm Stadium.
Submissions for the NFL previews are already closed, alas. Next up: Minnesota Vikings.