California has long been regarded for producing some of the best players in NFL history. Recruiters travel from all over the country to try to sign some of the state’s greatest young football players. California has always been known for its numerous sports teams. It currently contains 18 professional sports teams, most of which are successful.
The National Football League has 32 clubs, three of which are based in California: the Los Angeles Rams, Los Angeles Chargers, and San Francisco 49ers. There was another California-based club until 2019, but in 2020, the Oakland Raiders team was renamed the Las Vegas Raiders and relocated from Alameda, California, to Henderson, Nevada. With three teams coming from one state, it’s clear that the NFL in California is big business. With this in mind, we decided to look at each team’s current state of play and assess their chances of success next season.
Los Angeles Chargers
The Chargers will have mixed emotions about last season. On the one hand, they can be proud to have made the playoffs, given it looked like they wouldn’t make it at one point. However, after winning four of their last five games, a strong finish set them up with a wildcard game against the Jacksonville Jaguars. But this is where they will feel aggrieved, as they managed to blow a 27-point lead, the third biggest in postseason history. If that wasn’t bad enough, the final blow was struck against them with zero seconds left on the clock when Patterson’s field goal went through the posts. So, what of next season for the Chargers?
L.A. has a lot of room for expansion. This offseason, they’ll aim to take the next step, with decisions on more than 20 free agents, numerous cut candidates, and how to handle their team’s needs still looming. They can start by changing their offense and allowing quarterback Justin Herbert to fulfill his full potential. Justin Herbert is one of the most talented quarterbacks of his generation. So why has he yet to put up stats matching his abilities? Herbert threw the most passes in the AFC while scoring 16 fewer touchdowns than presumptive MVP Patrick Mahomes. Joe Lombardi, the Chargers’ troubled offensive coordinator, deserves to be chastised for failing to devise a plan that capitalizes on Herbert’s top arm talent. But he isn’t the only reason Los Angeles wasn’t more explosive. The Chargers have no receivers listed in the top 10 and only one in the top 20: Keenan Allen. LA’s offense requires more speed.
Los Angeles Rams
The Rams have had one of the most significant falls from grace in NFL history over the past 12 months. They have gone from a Super Bowl-winning team in 2021 to a team that won only five games last year. A mid-season slump where they lost six matches in a row ended their postseason playing, and the inquests began before the season was up.
Matthew Stafford expects to return for a 15th season, answering the Rams’ biggest offseason question before the regular season even ended. Injuries made 2022 a forgettable year for the Rams’ starting quarterback. There was talk that he could retire, but Stafford set the record straight. On the other hand, the Rams are concerned about their salary cap situation. They were $2.7 million over the 2023 salary ceiling in early January. That means the outlook for LA next season will be based heavily on their work off the field, as opposed to the training they do on it.
San Francisco 49ers
The 49ers made it to the NFC Championship Game for the second year running. This time, however, they ran into the surprise package of the NFL season: the Philadelphia Eagles. While the scoreline will suggest a massive gulf between the two, it’s important to remember that San Francisco played without a recognized quarterback for half of the match. So, is it a case of better luck next time, or are the 49ers running out of opportunities to secure their first NFL title in years?
Even before Jimmy Garoppolo sustained a catastrophic foot injury, allowing rising rookie Brock Purdy to take over, the Niners knew they would have to make some difficult decisions in the summer. Trey Lance, the No. 3 overall choice in the 2021 NFL Draft, is still a complete unknown two seasons into his career. His ruptured ACL in Week 2 was terrible for both his growth and the Niners’ assessment of his play. He’s completed 54.9% of his throws in eight NFL games for five touchdowns, three interceptions, and a QBR in the low 30s. And, given that Purdy had the greatest winning percentage among the three starters, youth cannot wholly justify that stat line.
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