3 questions for the Chargers heading into 2021 season

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There’s plenty of optimism around the Chargers at the moment.

They have one of the best-looking rosters that they’ve had in quite some time and a new coaching staff.

Still, there are questions that Los Angeles faces heading into and during the 2021 season.

Is Brandon Staley the solution?

AP Photo/Greg Beacham

A new era in Los Angeles is underway as Staley takes over as head coach after Anthony Lynn was fired in January. The hiring came not even four years after the 38-year-old received his first NFL job. Staley was brought onboard after overseeing the Rams’ top-ranked defense in 2020. Because he had no experience as a head coach, the hiring had many skeptical in the early going. But new additions this offseason, paired with his ability to get the best out of people, have inspired optimism. On top of that, Staley’s defensive expertise -- combined with playmakers led by Derwin James, Joey Bosa, Kenneth Murray, Michael Davis, Chris Harris Jr. and rookie Asante Samuel Jr. -- brings plenty of intrigue. Staley will have to be better in areas where Lynn’s failures cost the Chargers a lot of close games: game management, strategy in crucial situations and special teams competence.

Can Justin Herbert take a bigger jump in Year 2?

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Herbert set the bar high in being named 2020 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Heading into his second season, the former first-round pick has the chance to take an even bigger stride. Herbert flourished despite incompetent offensive line play and inconsistent availability of the top skill players due to injuries or COVID-19-related reasons. Herbert enters the 2021 season with a completely revamped offensive line that features the new additions Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler, Oday Aboushi and rookie Rashawn Slater. In addition, Herbert will have his top targets back -- Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Austin Ekeler -- along with free agent addition Jared Cook and rookie Josh Palmer. While offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi will be his fifth play-caller since his freshman year in college, Herbert has a high football IQ. If everything clicks, the sky's the limit for Herbert.

Can they avoid the injury bug?

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The Chargers have plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, but player availability will have a big role in determining their success. The team has seen a handful of their top players go down with injuries in recent years. James, a former All-Pro safety, missed all of last season after knee surgery; a stress fracture in his foot limited him to five games in 2019. Lack of depth at various positions has also factored into the Chargers’ inability to overcome injuries. While the team has brought in quality backups, it's a night-and-day difference without the playmakers. If the Bolts can stay healthy, they can make some serious noise this season.

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