Seven Chargers are heading to Orlando to play in the Pro Bowl, regardless of what happens to this team in the playoffs: four players from the offense (quarterback Philip Rivers; running back Melvin Gordon; centre Mike Pouncey; receiver Keenan Allen) and three players from defence and special teams (defensive end Melvin Ingram; rookie safety Derwin James; special teamer and defensive back Adrian Phillips).
That speaks to the balance of this roster, which has difference makers throughout and Anthony Lynn deserves credit for steering this squad to a 12-4 record. In most divisions that would be enough for 1st place but unfortunately for Los Angeles they share a division with the indomitable Chiefs.
The Chargers seemed to fly under the radar much of this year, despite only the Rams and Chiefs bettering their 12-4 regular season record.
I don’t know if that’s due to them sharing the LA market with the Rams who have the history and the highlights with Sean McVay’s offense, or if we’ve just been burnt so many times by the Chargers who always seem to be a franchise with so much promise on paper yet disappoint. This year, however, Lynn has managed to build on last year’s 9-7 season to deliver the Chargers first double-digit win season since 2009 when they went 13-3 under Norv Turner.
When you look at the Chargers in terms of statistics, there’s little very startling as there is with the Chiefs or the Bears. But perhaps it’s more in terms of consistency and stability that Lynn deserves credit here.
Whilst the Chargers could be argued to have benefited from a schedule lacking in formidable opponents this season, seven other teams who had an ‘easier’ strength of schedule than LA failed to make the playoffs, including the Steelers, Jaguars, Titans and Bengals; all playoff teams in recent seasons (ESPN.com).
Lynn isn’t the first name that jumps to mind for Coach of the Year, but he is certainly deserving of consideration. The Chargers managed to bounce back from their four defeats this year, winning their subsequent games, as well as stringing together a six-game win streak in the middle of the season.
The biggest knock against Lynn for winning the award has to be when you look at those four losses to the Chiefs (at home), Rams, Broncos and Ravens. Three of those four teams have joined the Chargers in the playoffs, whilst the toughest teams the Chargers beat in the regular season were the Steelers, the Chiefs (at Arrowhead Stadium) and Seattle. Those don’t really set the pulse racing.
Don’t get me wrong: a good team has to be able to win against inferior opponents; but the great ones have to beat their equals or more.