The Los Angeles Chargers ended last season with a disappointing 5-11 record and no playoff appearance. While the defense was, and has been, middling for the majority of Philip Rivers' career, the team struggled too much offensively to do what they'd done in previous seasons: Overcome mediocre defense by moving the football consistently and putting up points. But this year's offense will be among the best in the NFL.
It all starts with Rivers, who finished 2017 No. 5 in the league in yards with 4,386 and 33 TDs, which ranked behind only Drew Brees, Matt Ryan and Aaron Rodgers. He did throw 21 interceptions, however, which led to the Chargers' -7 turnover margin.
That's not going to happen again this season. Here's why:
Rookies Lamp and Feeney only have to be near league average to serve as upgrades at guard in 2017 and if the rest of the group holds up, the O-line — the Chargers weakest unit last season — is better.
Melvin Gordon is gifted back capable of 1,500-yard seasons, big games and game-changing runs. Better line play opens up Gordon as a star in the league which, in turn, takes the pressure off the pass protection and Rivers to constantly drop back and throw the ball down the field.
Of course, the defense being better at holding leads and getting off the field on third down — 39.9 percent in 2016, No. 17 in the league, allowed 45 rushes of 10 yards or more — helps, too, but a more balanced offense means Rivers is that much more dangerous in the pocket and we haven't even discussed his new, shiny wide receiver weapon in first-round pick Mike Williams.
A healthy Rivers is destined for another 4,000-yard season and this time around he'll avoid the surplus of interceptions and be flanked by one of the league's top 5 rushing attacks. All that adds up to one of the league's Top 5 offenses. The Chargers ranked No. 14 in total yards and No. 9 in scoring a year ago, suggesting such a leap isn't a leap at all. It's going to happen.