Hunter Hendry and fan favorite Melvin Ingram are gone but there are two guys that’ll be X-Factors for the Chargers. The 2 time pro bowl Tight End Jared Clark will play a huge role in the 2nd year development of Justin Herbert. His presence and leadership will pay dividends for Brandon Staley’s offense. Let’s flip to the defensive side of the ball and acknowledge that former 1st round pick Jerry Tillery has underperformed. Now let’s break it down a little deeper.
Jerry Tillery – Defensive Tackle
Jerry Tillery took some steps forward last year but all-in-all, his play has been underwhelming with a few bright spots. The good news is that he has Brandon Staley as his head coach and he’s still very young. Staley’s a defensive-minded genius that took Wade Philip’s stellar defense to another level with the Rams. The Rams has the number 1 defense last year. It does help to have Aaron Donald anchoring that defense for the Rams, however, Staley has loved what he’s seen from Tillery on tape. Tillery, standing at 6’6 with a long reach can be a nightmare for Offensive Lineman if he can figure out how to get his long arms into them first. Joey Bosa is an ACE with his hand technique and can offer Tillery a lot if he’s willing to learn. The Chargers defense can be on serious elite level if Tillery can meet the expectations that come with being a 1st round pick.
Jared Cook- Tight End
The Chargers knew they might lose Hunter Henry to free agency but they made a great decision in bringing in Jared Cook, the ultimate professional. There is only one tight end with more TD catches than Cook the past two seasons and that is Travis Kelce. Cook has been privileged enough to be on the receiving end of Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees, and now, Justin Herbert. Cook’s giant frame is going to be a huge asset for Herbert down the field. Plus, he has familiarity with Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi, who came over from the Saints.
Tillery and Cook have a chance to have major impacts this next season! If we can eliminate injuries and play a healthy season there is no reason this team can’t make a deep playoff run! They have the right pieces along with an upgraded and veteran offensive line to keep the Franchise QB of the Bolts, Justin Herbert healthy!