Chargers must fix red zone woes to light up scoreboard in 2018

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- Returning virtually all of their impact players on one of the NFL's best defenses last season, Los Angeles Chargers general manager Tom Telesco has a simple directive for his team this offseason.

He wants to add explosive offensive playmakers who score touchdowns. The Chargers finished No. 28 in red zone efficiency last season, settling for field goals instead of touchdowns too many times.

“A lot of it [our struggles on offense] was red zone offense,” Telesco told reporters at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis. “It’s a passing league, No. 1. It’s a situational football league, too.

“We’ve got to get better in the red zone, getting seven and not three. We have the pieces to do that. We have Melvin [Gordon] and Austin Ekeler did a really nice job for us this year. We have the tight ends. We have the receivers. It’s just a matter of trying to score more in the red zone. I think it’s there.”

The last time the Chargers finished in the top 10 in red zone efficiency was 2015, when they were at a 63.6 percent clip in red zone efficiency, ranking No. 8 in the NFL. Of course, the Chargers complied a 4-12 record that year. Over the past two seasons, they have a 49.5 percent red zone efficiency, No. 27 in the NFL.

Another area the Chargers need to improve on is scoring after turnovers. The Bolts forced 27 turnovers last season, No. 6 in the NFL, but scored just 74 points off those miscues, No. 11 in the league.

Head coach Anthony Lynn said the Chargers hope to add another playmaker or two on offense through the draft or free agency.

“I wouldn’t reach for a need,” Lynn said about taking a defensive player in this year’s draft. “If there’s a guy there on offense that can make us more explosive, then that could be an option, too.”

Explosive playmakers available in the back half of the first round who could add that dimension on offense include Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson, USC running back Ronald Jones, LSU running back Derrius Guice and Alabama receiver Calvin Ridley.

Also, the return of a healthy Mike Williams, who will enter his second NFL season, should help in the red zone.