To say the Chargers are having a rough start in their new home of Los Angeles would be an understatement. The latest lowlight in an offseason full of them, saw Los Angeles’ second football team in as many seasons, be outsold by the LA Galaxy.
The StubHub Center, which seats 27,000 spectators, filled just 21,054 chairs during the Chargers’ preseason home opener against the Seattle Seahawks on August 13. The night before, 25,667 soccer fans came to Carson to watch the Galaxy take on NYC FC.
For the average ticket price of $135.99, Chargers faithful were able to watch the home team get trounced 48-17 at the hands of Seattle. Even though the preseason has little bearing on how the regular season will play out, such a defeat is not the statement the Chargers were looking to make in their first game in Los Angeles.
To add insult to injury, San Diego Union-Tribune sports columnist Kevin Acee tweeted less than complimentary remarks about the size of the locker rooms at the StubHub Center.
“#Chargers locker room at StubHub makes rest of stadium look oversized. If you played at a large high school, you probably dressed in bigger.”
Compile this with the new Chargers logo debacle back in January (for those who don’t remember, it originally looked liked the Dodgers’ logo made of lightning bolts), and it becomes clear that there have been a series of setbacks in the Chargers’ attempt to win over Los Angeles.
The ultimate remedy for a fickle fanbase is to win. When the starters took the field to open the match against the Seahawks, the result was a 75-yard march to the end zone, capped off with a 5-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Antonio Gates.
This classic connection teaming up for another score shows the potential for success the Chargers have. They are a team that is not lacking in talent, however, injuries have quickly befallen their younger prospects.
Forrest Lamp, an offensive lineman taken by Los Angeles in the second round, was lost for the season to a torn ACL. Lamp looked poised to crack the starting lineup for the regular season opener before being ruled out for the year on August 2.
The Chargers will also be without their blossoming middle linebacker Denzel Perryman for 6-8 weeks, as he recovers from an ankle injury sustained in the loss to Seattle. Perryman was third on the team in tackles, with 72. He also accounted for two sacks, six tackles for a loss, and an interception.
One of the biggest blows that came earlier in the offseason was the loss of first round draft pick Mike Williams to a herniated disk. The timetable for his recovery has him potentially returning to the field in October, which is a sigh of relief for the Chargers, as there had been talks of Williams being out for the year.
The road to a winning season seems ever longer when looking at the Chargers’ schedule. Although they have moved cities, Los Angeles will still be playing in the ultra-competitive AFC Western Conference. This means they will face the Oakland Raiders, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos two times apiece this season.
They will also square off against the NFC and AFC Eastern Conferences, which entails matchups against the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, Washington Redskins, Dallas Cowboys, the Jay Cutler-led Miami Dolphins, and reigning Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in Foxborough.
Despite the overwhelming factors facing the Chargers, there is little reason to fret. Rivers will have Gates, a healthy Keenan Allen, and an eventually healthy Williams to throw to. Melvin Gordon will be taking his assumed spot as starting running back, and will look to build on a stellar sophomore season in which he ran for 997 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The loss of Perryman does hurt the defense, but he will be back manning the middle of the field, and will have beside him Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, and Casey Hayward. Bosa led all rookies in sacks, with 10.5. Ingram led the Chargers in forced fumbles, with four. And Hayward led the NFL in interceptions, with seven, one of which he returned for a touchdown.
So far, the Chargers’ start in LA has been subpar, but they have an entire season to right the ship. The odds of them making the playoffs seem slim now, but the city will fall in love with a team that is willing to fight against the adversity.
The Chargers have, and will continue to, face plenty of it. Results may not be immediate, but the team will come out stronger for their struggles, and can easily become a group that makes the city of Los Angeles proud.