Chargers’ title strain, NFL energy rankings, Kyler Murray and extra

Final yr, the Los Angeles Rams survived the preseason hype and received all of it. This time, it’s their stadium co-tenants within the Los Angeles Chargers in such a spot.

Time is the theme of the 2022 Los Angeles Chargers.

Both within the sense of this being their time, or time being up on persistence for a lot of supporters.

After watching quarterback Justin Herbert escape in 2020 as a rookie with 4,336 yards and 31 landing passes, many anticipated the Chargers to go from a seven-win staff to the playoffs.

But regardless of Herbert totaling 5,014 yards and 38 touchdowns, Los Angeles nonetheless missed the postseason, ending with a 9-8 report. The season was notably maddening contemplating the late-season swoon which included losses to the COVID-ridden Houston Texans and the Week 18 thriller towards the Las Vegas Raiders.

This offseason, basic supervisor Tom Telesco went scorched earth. He traded for edge rusher Khalil Mack and signed the league’s high free agent in nook J.C. Jackson. The Chargers additionally bolstered their offensive line within the NFL Draft’s first spherical for a second consecutive yr, this time deciding on guard Zion Johnson out of Boston Faculty.

All informed, Los Angeles has one of many league’s greatest rosters. It’s a gaggle loaded with younger expertise and veterans, led by a famous person quarterback who continues to ascend.

But for his or her appreciable promise, few franchises have been longer on potential and shorter on outcomes than the Chargers in recent times.

And to that time, there’s a case to be made for glory this season, but in addition for ache.

The case for glory is simple. As aforementioned, Los Angeles is loaded.

The Chargers have a top-flight quarterback, two glorious receivers in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, a top quality offensive line, and a protection which options edge rusher Joey Bosa, security Derwin James, nook Asante Samuel Jr., Mack and Jackson.

Few groups can declare top-tier expertise much like that group, which is why the Chargers enter August with 15/1 odds to win the Tremendous Bowl.

Nevertheless, the case for ache is equally straightforward to make.

Los Angeles is in an absurd division with the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs, much-improved Denver Broncos and high-flying Raiders. Kansas Metropolis has hosted the final 4 AFC title video games, whereas Denver introduced in a brand new head coach-quarterback combo in Nathaniel Hackett and Russell Wilson, respectively.

The Chargers even have stars, however many damage issues accompanying them. Bosa has missed 14 video games in his six-year profession. Mack solely performed seven video games in 2021. Since getting into the NFL, James has performed 36 video games and missed 29. Samuel missed 5 contests as a rookie with a number of concussions.

As for Herbert, the stakes are huge.

After this season, Herbert turns into eligible for an extension. After seeing the contracts doled out to Kyler Murray and Deshaun Watson, one other nice marketing campaign might have the previous Oregon Geese star in line for a contract of greater than $50 million yearly and upwards of $250 million assured.

But a down season, both for Herbert or the Chargers, might show problematic. Los Angeles is historically a cash-poor franchise by comparability to different NFL golf equipment. If proprietor Dean Spanos has any leverage to squeeze Herbert in negotiations — particularly after paying a $650 relocation price whereas being embroiled in a nasty household dispute — he might properly use it.

In Los Angeles, followers have been ready for his or her proficient staff to lastly mature and win all of the video games it ought to as an alternative of giving video games away in weird vogue, one thing of a Chargers staple. They need to see playoff soccer and even a deep run, with the staff not reaching the convention championship stage since 2007 and solely as soon as since 1994.

The quarterback is in place. The top coach is younger and intriguing. The roster is stacked.

The Chargers realize it’s time to make their transfer. Now we wait to see in the event that they’re prepared to satisfy the second, or slide again as soon as extra as one other season tolls midnight.

Energy rankings

Prime 10 WRs primed for his or her first 1,000-yard season

1. Christian Kirk, Jacksonville Jaguars
2. Devonta Smith, Philadelphia Eagles
3. Amon-Ra St. Brown, Detroit Lions
4. Tim Patrick, Denver Broncos
5. Chris Olave, New Orleans Saints
6. Drake London, Atlanta Falcons
7. Mecole Hardman, Kansas Metropolis Chiefs
8. Brandon Aiyuk, San Francisco 49ers
9. George Pickens, Pittsburgh Steelers
10. Treylon Burks, Tennessee Titans

Quotable

“I feel it’s one of the best I’ve ever seen him throw it so far. What are we, three days in? And he’s most likely throwing it higher than I’ve ever seen him throw it. He’s actually labored onerous within the offseason and it’s displaying. So we’ve simply received to construct on that. It’s actually thrilling, and we’re all very excited.”

– Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator Greg Roman on Lamar Jackson’s progress

Jackson has a lot to show this season, particularly as contract talks continues whereas a self-imposed deadline looms. The Ravens have loved two division titles and three playoff berths in Jackson’s 4 years on the helm — together with his ’19 MVP marketing campaign — however have just one postseason win in that point.

An enormous yr from Jackson and a deep run in January can be a game-changer for his nationwide popularity and, if the contract isn’t squared, future negotiations.

Podcast

On trip! No podcast this week and subsequent, however returning with pressure on Aug. 16!

Random stat

The 1980 Oakland Raiders have been the primary staff to win 4 postseason video games of their Tremendous Bowl-winning season.

Data discovered this week

1. NFLPA, Watson launch joint assertion

We seem near an announcement on the Deshaun Watson listening to.

Whereas Disciplinary Officer Sue Robinson hasn’t made her choice public — or even perhaps in any respect — the NFLPA tipped its hand on Sunday night time with a joint assertion alongside Cleveland Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, which you’ll learn in full beneath:

This means the NFLPA would possibly really feel a positive ruling is coming, and the union is basically telling commissioner Roger Goodell to respect the decision.

Nevertheless, let’s be clear about how this works. Goodell, through the Collective Bargaining Settlement, has ultimate say. Robinson can advocate a suspension size, however Goodell can unilaterally determine the last word punishment. If he feels Watson’s punishment is simply too mild, he can override Robinson and impose any ban he needs. And whereas the union can struggle it by interesting to federal courtroom, the percentages are it profitable are near zero %.

Quickly, we’ll know Watson’s destiny … by Robinson or Goodell.

2. Seahawks decide to D.Ok. Metcalf with acquainted extension

John Schneider will get an F for creativity.

The Seattle Seahawks prolonged star receiver D.Ok. Metcalf final week on a three-year deal price $72 million, together with $58.2 million assured. Over three seasons in Seattle, the previous second-round choose from Ole Miss has notched 216 receptions for 3,170 yards and 29 touchdowns. With out query, he deserved to be paid.

Nevertheless, the playful dig at Schneider is instructive of an attention-grabbing development within the receiver market. After seeing Tyreek Hill (4 years, $120 million) and Davante Adams (5 years, $140 million) reset the wideout market in beautiful vogue, the pacts for these getting into their fourth years on rookie offers have been remarkably related.

On the opening night time of the Draft, A.J. Brown was despatched from the Titans to the Eagles and promptly received 4 years, $100 million and $57.2 million assured. Then, just a few weeks in the past, Terry McLaurin and the Washington Commanders agreed on a three-year, $68 million cope with $53.4 million assured. Now Metcalf, who checks in a simply above each in ensures, and between them in annual common. All very shut in cash, and all three years.

Then on Sunday, the San Francisco 49ers signed Deebo Samuel, which leads us to…

3. Oh look … Deebo Samuel’s deal in SF adopted the sample

Samuel and the Niners getting collectively on Sunday night time and ending the All-Professional receiver’s hold-in, with a three-year deal price as much as $73.5 million with $58.1 million assured. Principally, Metcalf’s deal, virtually to the cent.

In contrast to Metcalf, Samuel started his profession as a great participant with apparent upside as an alternative of being an instantaneous star. In his first two years with San Francisco, Samuel missed 10 mixed video games, limiting his manufacturing to 1,193 receiving yards and 4 touchdowns. In 2021, Samuel performed 16 video games and exploded, turning into a First-Staff All-Professional with 1,770 scrimmage yards and 14 touchdowns, whereas main the league with 18.2 yards per reception.

Nonetheless, Samuel received paid on the identical degree as Metcalf, largely as a result of the 2 are in an equivalent contract yr, with one having extra sustained success whereas the opposite has reached a better ceiling.

Backside line? Metcalf and Samuel received paid, and together with McLaurin and Brown, they’ve set the usual for the following wave of star receivers nearing the tip of their rookie offers.

4. Frank Clark offers uncooked presser, is perhaps price betting on in ’22

In three seasons with the Chiefs, Frank Clark has reached two Tremendous Bowls, received one, totaled eight playoff sacks and reached three Professional Bowls.

Nonetheless, most Kansas Metropolis followers would inform you his five-year, $105 million deal signed previous to 2019 was a foul transfer for the Chiefs. This declare is backed up by the staff restructuring his contract this offseason with the possible transfer of slicing bait after this season to avoid wasting $19 million in 2023.

Nevertheless, on Thursday, Clark stepped to the mic at a post-practice presser and talked overtly. He spoke about slicing out liquor this offseason and eliminating his intestine. He spoke a few candid dialog between he and head coach Andy Reid after final season, and the way Reid expressed his disappointment in Clark’s marketing campaign. He additionally spoke about needing to develop up, and the way his offseason has been devoted to doing so.

His presser was 12 minutes lengthy, and well worth the watch.

With the Chiefs including edge rusher Carlos Dunlap on a one-year deal final week, and drafting George Karlaftis within the first spherical of April’s draft, basic supervisor Brett Veach is sending a transparent message: snaps can be earned, not given. For Clark, who is basically in a contract yr, he must outperform his previous two seasons which have produced a mixed 10.5 sacks, together with 4.5 final yr.

If his highly effective phrases have been any indication, maybe he’s a great wager to take action.

5. Isaiah McKenzie price anticipating Payments in new function

Josh Allen. Stefon Diggs. Dawson Knox. Gabriel Davis. These are the massive names related to the Buffalo Payments and their high-powered offense. Perhaps we should always contemplate including Isaiah McKenzie.

McKenzie has by no means had greater than 300 receiving. yards in any of his 5 seasons within the league, both with Denver or Buffalo. Nevertheless, with slot receiver Cole Beasley nonetheless a free gent and veteran Jamison Crowder as McKenzie’s principal competitors, the 27-year-old might shine in Buffalo’s system.

Final yr, McKenzie starred in Week 16 towards the New England Patriots within the de facto AFC East title sport. With Beasley out with a constructive COVID check, McKenzie caught 11 passes for 125 yards and a landing. The remainder of the common season noticed McKenzie catch 9 balls for 53 yards.

Usually, McKenzie’s efficiency may very well be written off. But he’s starred early on in Buffalo’s camp and with a dire want for slot assist following Beasley’s departure, don’t be fast to dismiss the speedster.

Two cents

The Ryan Jensen damage is crushing for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Chances are you’ll bear in mind I picked the Bucs to succeed in Tremendous Bowl LVII, and I’m not shifting off that stance. Nevertheless, there’s a robust argument that exterior quarterback Tom Brady, no offensive participant was extra indispensable than Jensen.

Jensen, 31, is an eight-year veteran and a Professional Bowler who earned a three-year, $39 million deal this offseason. On Thursday, Jensen was carted out of form after struggling a knee damage which is able to hold him sidelined for months if not your complete season. With out him, Tampa Bay has now reshuffled all three of its inside line positions, with guards Ali Marpet (retirement) and Alex Kappa (free company) additionally gone.

Now contemplate how Jensen’s loss impacts these round him. For all Brady’s greatness, he’s not cell. Strain up the intestine is the best option to gradual his rhythm passing assault.

Lastly, contemplate Tampa Bay’s largest threats. The Rams have Aaron Donald inside. The Chiefs have Chris Jones. The Packers have Kenny Clark.

If Jensen is gone for the yr, it makes the Buccaneers’ path to profitable all of it a lot more durable.

Contained in the league

Huge contract extensions are normally trigger for celebration. In some way, Kyler Murray’s cope with the Arizona Cardinals grew to become a second for controversy and embarrassment.

On the outset of coaching camp, the Cardinals and Murray agreed to a five-year, $230.5 million extension with $160 million assured, conserving the quarterback round via the 2028 marketing campaign. Nevertheless, the unbiased clause grew to become the nationwide storyline, with Murray required to do 4 hours of homework exterior of conferences.

After the clause grew to become public on Monday, FanSided reached out to league sources in an effort to seek out somebody who had ever seen such language inserted right into a contract. I’m nonetheless ready to discover a single one who has.

On Thursday, the Cardinals eliminated the clause and launched a comical assertion, partially blaming the media for the way the clause was perceived.

Let’s be actual. The Cardinals don’t imagine in Murray’s work ethic and research habits. In the event that they did, none of this might’ve occurred. For his half, Murray signed the deal. Both he was conscious of the clause and accepted it, or his agent didn’t relay the language and the contract was inked. Regardless, it’s extremely embarrassing for Murray’s camp, and eliminating the controversial part doesn’t take it away.

Finally, the Cardinals and Murray each look ridiculous. Not the way in which both occasion ought to be feeling after the most important contract in franchise historical past.

Historical past lesson

You possible know the Buccaneers didn’t win a sport in 1976. You definitely know the ’08 Detroit Lions and ’17 Cleveland Browns adopted go well with.

However do you know the Dallas Cowboys and Baltimore Colts additionally had winless campaigns?

As an enlargement staff in 1960, the Cowboys went 0-11-1 beneath future Corridor of Fame head coach Tom Landry. Dallas managed to tie Landry’s outdated staff, the New York Giants, 31-31, at Yankee Stadium within the season’s penultimate week.

Then there’s the ’82 Colts. This comes with an asterisk, as Baltimore went 0-8-1 in a strike-shortened yr. The Colts solely managed 113 factors, the fewest within the NFL, whereas permitting the third-most factors (236) within the league.

Parting shot

We’re all lacking the purpose about Tua Tagovailoa and the Miami Dolphins.

For Tagovailoa and his staff, the offseason storylines have been concerning the newly-acquired Tyreek Hill, holdover star wideout Jaylen Waddle and whether or not their quarterback can ship the deep ball. On Saturday, Tagovailoa aired out a magnificence to Hill, sending Dolphins followers in attendance into ecstasy.

In actuality, it’s all about whether or not Tagovailoa could be a driver of the offense, and never a passenger. Whether or not he can hit the slant route on third and 6. Whether or not he can throw the deep out to bail the offense out of a holding penalty. Sure, the deep photographs are highlights, however soccer video games are received via situational success.

The Dolphins can have a run-first offense with Tagovailoa tasked to make fast reads and correct throws. Hill and Waddle have elite velocity, offering their quarterback extra leeway.

Tagovailoa should benefit from it.