The New England Patriots and Los Angeles Chargers have played some memorable games through the years, including three playoff matches since 2006 — all of which won by the Patriots. The latest of which took place during the NFL’s 2018 season, with L.A. visiting Gillette Stadium in the divisional round. New England dominated the game from start to finish, coming away with a 41-28 victory en route to a Super Bowl title.
Let’s take a look back at that game to find out how the two clubs have since changed.
The following 18 players from the teams’ last meeting on January 13, 2019 are still with the team:
C David Andrews, DT Adam Butler, LS Joe Cardona, C James Ferentz, CB Stephon Gilmore, DT Lawrence Guy, QB Brian Hoyer, CB J.C. Jackson, CB Jonathan Jones, G Shaq Mason, S Devin McCourty, CB Jason McCourty, RB Sony Michel, LB John Simon, WR Matthew Slater, G Joe Thuney, RB James White, DE Deatrich Wise Jr.
Offense: When the Patriots last played the Chargers, Tom Brady was still the quarterback but his departure is not the only noteworthy change. Also gone are the entire wide receiver and tight end groups — including Julian Edelman, Chris Hogan and Rob Gronkowski — with offensive tackles Trent Brown and Marcus Cannon also no longer with the team. The only position with at least some stability is wide receiver: Sony Michel, who had 129 rushing yards and found the end zone three times, is available after recently returning off injured reserve, as is veteran James White.
Defense: After the Patriots’ offseason exodus that saw the departures of Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Noy, Danny Shelton and Patrick Chung, only nine members of the team’s defense remain from two years ago — just four of which being starters back against Los Angeles in the divisional playoffs: defensive tackle Lawrence Guy and defensive backs Stephon Gilmore, Devin McCourty and Jason McCourty.
Special teams: Long-time Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski, who made two field goals and five extra points versus the Chargers in 2018, was released by the team this offseason and has been replaced by Nick Folk. Another noticeable change is the departure of punter Ryan Allen, who was let go last year in favor of Jake Bailey. Core coverage players Nate Ebner and Brandon King are also no longer available.
Coaching staff: While the likes of Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels are still running the show in New England, the rest of the coaching staff did see some major turnover. Gone are assistant coaches Dante Scarnecchia (offensive line), Jerry Schuplinski (assistant quarterbacks), Chad O’Shea (wide receivers), Brandan Daly (defensive line), Brian Flores (defensive player caller/linebackers), Josh Boyer (cornerbacks) and Joe Judge (special teams), with others either joining the team over the last two years or being reassigned for different positions.
The following 20 players from the teams’ last meeting on January 13, 2019 are still with the team:
S Jahleel Addae, WR Keenan Allen, K Michael Badgley, DE Joey Bosa, CB Michael Davis, RB Austin Ekeler, CB Brandon Facyson, G Dan Feeney, CB Casey Hayward, TE Hunter Henry, S Rayshawn Jenkins, DT Justin Jones, G Forrest Lamp, LB Uchenna Nwosu, C Scott Quessenberry, DE Isaac Rochell, DT Damion Square, OT Sam Tevi, G Cole Toner, WR Mike Williams
Offense: The Chargers, much like the Patriots, lost their legendary quarterback-tight end duo since the 2018 season: Philip Rivers is now the quarterback in Indianapolis, with Antonio Gates retiring following the loss in New England that year. They roles have since gone to rookie Justin Herbert and Hunter Henry. Also no longer available is running back Melvin Gordon, with the starting offensive line having seen some turnover as well. In fact, only two starters from 2018 — Sam Tevi and Dan Feeney — are still around albeit in different spots up front
Defense: Los Angeles’ defense did not just lose Adrian Phillips to the Patriots this offseason, it also will have to play without some other cornerstones from that 2018 team. Melvin Ingram and Derwin James are both on injured reserve, with Brandon Mebane having retired. Two players who are still around, though, are defensive edge Joey Bosa and cornerback Casey Hayward — arguably the Chargers’ best defenders this year.
Special teams: Kicker Michael Badgley is holding down the fort, but the other two specialists have since been replaced: punter Donnie Jones’ job now belongs to Ty Long, with Cole Mazza filling the long snapper position in place of Mike Windt. Also no longer with the club is kickoff specialist Nick Rose; his job is now also Ty Long’s as well.
Coaching staff: While change might be coming to the L.A. coaching staff next offseason, the crew is still basically the same it was two years ago with head coach Anthony Lynn and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley still around. The offensive side of the ball, however, is now coordinated by Shane Steichen who took over for Ken Whisenhunt midway through the 2019 season. Back in 2018, Steichen was the Chargers’ quarterbacks coach.