The Los Angeles Chargers are about to begin a season that is looking very promising for them.
They made massive upgrades to the defensive side of the football, and they could even end up being one of the better defensive teams in the NFL if everyone meshes well together.
L.A. is pretty stacked on the offensive side as well, and it all starts and ends with their young superstar quarterback, Justin Herbert.
There is plenty of debate as to where Herbert belongs in a ranking of the league’s best QBs, but most agree he is now one of the game’s elite.
In fact, ESPN gave him lots of love in its ranking of the NFL’s top 100 players just days ago.
“Now as a third-year pro and operating for a second consecutive season in coordinator Joe Lombardi’s offense, Herbert is expected to take another step forward,” wrote Lindsey Thiry of ESPN.com. Coaches and teammates have touted Herbert’s improved communication and comfort level, noting his ability to take greater command of the offense.”
This Could Be A Special Season For Herbert
Last year, the University of Oregon product put up 5,014 yards and 38 touchdowns, both of which exceeded the career-bests of his predecessor, Philip Rivers.
Herbert earned his first trip to the Pro Bowl, but he was unable to translate it into a postseason appearance, as the Chargers narrowly lost in Week 18 to the Las Vegas Raiders.
However, that loss wasn’t really Herbert’s fault, and in fact, he was the reason Los Angeles even had a shot at winning that contest in the first place.
Drive 3: 8 plays, 52 yds, 2:39
🔸Ineligible man downfield
🔸PI by #29?
🔸2 drops (inc. TD by Williams)
— Dan W. (@DanWSports) January 11, 2022
In 2021, the Bolts were one of the NFL’s worst defensive teams, particularly when it came to defending against the run, which put more pressure on their offense to be dominant.
This year, their defense should be able to consistently get stops, and at least in theory, it could make Herbert play more free and easy, which could result in a slight bump in his numbers.
Chargers RB Sony Michel is excellent in blitz pickup. pic.twitter.com/TzR1DgcopX
— Gavino Borquez (@GavinoBorquez) August 31, 2022
With new additions on the offensive line as well, this could be the year where Herbert goes from elite to unforgettable.
Herbert Has To Deliver
While it is true that sports fans in Southern California put great importance on star power and entertainment, at the end of the day, they demand winners more than anything else.
The Los Angeles Rams are the defending Super Bowl champions, and Bolts fans may be a little bit jealous of what their SoFi Stadium co-tenants have going for themselves.
At a bare minimum, Herbert has to guide the Chargers into the playoffs, and with so many good teams in the AFC, especially in the AFC West, that won’t be easy.
There could very well be multiple teams in the conference that win at least 10 games but still miss the postseason for that very reason.
The Chargers start the regular season against the Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs, and those contests will give them a prime opportunity to make a statement.