The Tampa Bay Buccaneers get both LA teams at home this season and they'll face the Chargers on Week Four at 1 p.m. on CBS as they make their way through the entire AFC West.
The last time the Bucs played the Chargers, they still called San Diego home. That was back in 2016, when Tampa Bay took a trip out west and took down the Chargers, 28-21. It'll be the first time the Bucs will face the Chargers as the team from Los Angeles and the first time the Chargers will make the trip to Tampa Bay for the first time since 2012. The Bucs have won the past two matchups dating back to that point in time, but the Chargers own the all-time series 8-3, all of which have taken place in the regular season.
Los Angeles struggled last season as veteran quarterback Philip Rivers may have finally started to regress after 16 seasons in the league. He threw 20 interceptions, his most since 2016, and threw for 23 touchdowns. Yards-wise though, Rivers and the Chargers' offense actually saw an uptick in production, as he passed for 4,615 yards, his most since 2015. The other side of the ball, while struggling to generate any type of pass rush, was top-three in passing defense, allowing the third-fewest yards through the air behind only the New England Patriots and San Francisco 49ers. The effort would be somewhat futile - Los Angeles has the cards stacked against them, sharing a division with the Super Bowl LIV Champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Los Angeles will obviously look different than they did in 2016, when the Bucs last played them, but they'll look significantly different from even last season both in the personnel they'll put on the field and what that personnel will subsequently be wearing. Just like the Bucs, the Chargers unveiled new uniforms this offseason to largely positive reviews. They'll also be ushering in a new era under center, presumably with quarterback Justin Herbert on the field, who the team took with the sixth overall pick in this year's draft. Los Angeles had made no secret following the conclusion of the 2019 season that Rivers would not be returning. He is now a member of the Indianapolis Colts, signing a one-year deal.
Los Angeles Chargers
2019 Record: 5-11
Scoring Offense: T-18th (20.6 points per game)
Total Offense: 10th (367.4 total yards per game)
Rushing Offense: 28th (90.8 rushing yards per game)
Passing Offense: 6th (290.5 passing yards per game)
Scoring Defense: 14th (21.6 points allowed per game)
Total Defense: 6th (313.1 total yards allowed per game)
Rushing Defense: 18th (112.8 rushing yards allowed per game)
Passing Defense: 5th (200.3 passing yards allowed per game)
Turnover Margin: T-31st (-17)
What seemingly did the Chargers in the most on their way to their 5-11 record was turnovers. Rivers threw 20 picks while not quite compensating with 23 touchdowns. Los Angeles was also dead last in takeaways, with the defense generating just 14 over the course of the season. It's hard to say whether that started more up front than anything, with Los Angeles creating little-to-no pressure on opposing quarterbacks, recorded 30.0 sacks last year. Then again, they had the least amount of passes defensed in the league with 45. They may have somehow been able to limit passing yards, but it wasn't because defenders were getting their hands on the ball.
The Chargers had two first-round picks this year to help address that, but their quarterback situation took precedence. They then elected to take Kenneth Murray Jr., a linebacker out of Oklahoma, with their second day one pick.
Chargers' 2020 Draft Class: QB Justin Herbert, Oregon (Round 1, 6th overall), LB Kenneth Murray Jr., Oklahoma (Round 1, 23rd overall), RB Joshua Kelley, UCLA (Round 4, 112th overall), WR Joe Reed, Virginia (Round 5, 151st overall), S Alohi Gilman, Notre Dame (Round 6, 186th overall), WR KJ Hill, Ohio State (Round 7, 220th overall)
Los Angeles was positioned well on Day One of the draft but then didn't get another crack at the board until the fourth round. That's when they picked up a running back. They'd also pick two more receivers to help give Herbert something to work with. As far as issues in the secondary or even in the pass rush, they took Gilman out of Notre Dame, but not until the sixth round. The defense in general was addressed on a limited basis in free agency, too.
Key Veteran Additions: G Trai Turner, T Bryan Bulaga, CB Chris Harris Jr., DT Linval Joseph, OLB Nick Vigil,
Notable Departures: QB Philip Rivers, RB Melvin Gordon, T Russell Okung, FB Derek Watt
Before free agency really even got underway, the Chargers traded left tackle Russell Okung straight up for Carolina guard Trai Turner, needing some help on the interior. Los Angeles also signed long-time Packer Bryan Bulaga to hold down the outside of the line, presumably in Okung's absence. The Chargers also added Chris Harris Jr. from their division-rival Denver Broncos to help out the secondary and add a veteran presence.
With the departure of running back Melvin Gordon, the team retained Austin Ekeler, handing the reins over to him to lead the ground game. Ekeler is one of those hybrid receiver backs. While he gained only 557 yards and three touchdowns on the ground last season, he caught 92 passes for 993 yards and eight touchdowns through the air, giving him 1,550 total yards from scrimmage with 11 touchdowns. Not a bad output. He'll likely be the number one weapon the Bucs will be tasked with shutting down when the Chargers come to town on Week Four.