For the second straight year, the New England Patriots will travel out to California to take on the Los Angeles Chargers. Last years matchup was pretty much the only game that went well for New England, as they blew out the Chargers 45-0.
Now, as we sit about 11 months removed from that game, things are looking much different. Los Angeles has a new coaching regime in town, and New England has themselves a shiny new toy at quarterback What are some other things that have changed? Glad you asked! Here is how the Patriots’ and Chargers’ rosters have changed since their last meeting.
The following 27 players from the last meeting with Los Angeles are still on the Patriots’ active roster:
WR N’Keal Harry, QB Brian Hoyer, G Michael Onwenu, C David Andrews, G Shaq Mason, WR Jakobi Meyers, RB Damien Harris, DL Lawrence Guy, DL Deatrich Wise Jr., DB Kyle Dugger, LB Ja’Whaun Bentley, CB J.C. Jackson, S Adrian Phillips, S Devin McCourty, K Nick Folk, P Jake Bailey, WR Matthew Slater, DB Cody Davis, DB Justin Bethel, CB Joejuan Williams, DB Myles Bryant, FB Jakob Johnson, LS Joe Cardona, LB Josh Uche, OL Justin Herron, WR Gunner Olszewski, RB J.J. Taylor
Offense: Cam Newton started for the Patriots in last seasons matchup against Los Angeles, passing for just 69 yards on 19 attempts. Something tells me that won’t be the case this time around with Mac Jones under center. Not only is Jones a much better pure passer of the football, but newcomers Kendrick Bourne, Nelson Agholor, Jonnu Smith, and former Charger Hunter Henry make up a much more formidable group than the one who was led by Gunner Olszewski and his 38 yards receiving.
The offensive line will lineup similarly on the right side with David Andrews, Shaq Mason, and Michael Onwenu, but saw the left side undergo a transformation with Isaiah Wynn and Ted Karras slotted in to take over for last year’s duo of Jermaine Eleumunor and Joe Thuney.
Defense: Matthew Judon, Christian Barmore, Davon Godchaux, Dont’a Hightower, Kyle Van Non, Jamie Collins, and Jalen Mills will all be added a pretty similar defensive unit to the one that shut Los Angeles out last season. The departures from that starting unit are Anfernee Jennings, John Simon, Byron Cowart, and of course Stephon Gilmore.
Special Teams: The band is back together again. Nick Folk, Jake Bailey, and Joe Cardona make up New England’s battery while Matthew Slater, Justin Bethel, Cody Davis, and Gunner Olszewski return as feature players. Not a bad sign when you return the same unit that scored two special teams touchdowns a year ago.
Coaching staff: The coaching staff underwent a few changes this offseason. Co-offensive line coach Cole Popovich departed before the start of training camp, leaving Carmen Bricillo to coach the unit solo this season. Additions include former defensive coordinator Matt Patricia returning as a special assistant to Bill Belichick, and Bo Hardegree being added as a quarterbacks coach. Troy Brown and Vinnie Sunseri made switches from running backs to wide receivers and defense to running backs, respectively.
The following 22 players from the last meeting are still on the Chargers’ active roster:
P Ty Long, QB Easton Stick, QB Justin Herbert, WR Keenan Allen, WR Jaylen Guyton, S Nasir Adderley, CB Chris Harris, RB Joshua Kelley, RB Austin Ekeler, S Alohi Gilman, FB Gabe Nabers, LB Uchenna Nwosu, CB Michael Davis, OL Scott Quessenberry, LT Storm Norton, T Trey Pipkins III, WR Mike Williams, TE Stephen Anderson, TE Donald Parham Jr., DE Joey Bosa, NT Linval Joseph, DE Jerry Tillery
Offense: Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler return to LA this season making up one of the most talented offensive cores in all of football. The offensive line is a different story, having made upgrades across the board. Rashawn Slater, Matt Feiler, and Corey Linsley, have come in for some much needed improvement up front.
Defense: The Chargers have two superstars on their defense, Joey Bosa and Derwin James are both game changing athletes who will be game planned around. Bosa played in last years matchup while James missed it with a torn meniscus.
Joining those franchise cornerstones for this season are players like Asante Samuel Jr., Kyle Fackrell, and Amen Ogbongbemiga, all of whom have become starters in their first year with the team.
Special Teams: Punter Ty Long will be joined by newcomers Matt Overton and Dustin Hopkins —who was signed on Tuesday— to make up the Chargers battery.
Coaching staff: The Los Angeles Chargers have handed over the keys to the castle to 38-year old Brandon Staley this season after relieving former head coach Anthony Lynn of his duties following the 2020 season. Along with him come offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi, defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill, and special teams coordinator Derius Swinton II.