The 2022 season has been looking like a very promising one for the Los Angeles Chargers, as they have massively upgraded on the defensive side of the football.
In addition to pass rusher Khalil Mack and defensive tackles Austin Jackson and Sebastian Joseph-Day, they brought in cornerback J.C. Jackson during the offseason.
These new acquisitions have led more and more observers to pick them to finish first in the ultra-competitive AFC West this year.
But the Chargers have suffered something of a blow to their Super Bowl hopes, as J.C. Jackson just had ankle surgery and will be out for the next 2-4 weeks.
More details: J.C. Jackson underwent ankle surgery today at the New York Hospital of Special Surgery. Procedure was performed by Dr. Martin O'Malley. Jackson’s estimated return is approximately 2-4 weeks, leaving his status for the opener against him the Raiders in question. https://t.co/r3Ft0Dojuq
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 23, 2022
If that timetable is correct, it won’t be a fatal blow for Los Angeles, but it will be one that could end up costing them first place in its division and possibly a first-round bye in the playoffs.
J.C. Jackson Is Going To Strengthen A Suspect Defense
The biggest problem the Chargers had defensively last season was their run defense, as they ranked 29th in rushing touchdowns and 30th in rushing yards allowed.
But make no mistake about it: Their pass defense was also lackluster.
L.A. was 16th in passing touchdowns allowed and 22nd in interceptions, highlighting what was a rather weak secondary despite the presence of Pro Bowl safety Derwin James.
To that end, the team went out and got Jackson.
Last season, as a member of the New England Patriots, he had eight interceptions, one of which he brought back for a touchdown, and a league-leading 23 passes defended.
J.C. JACKSON WILL TAKE THAT 88 YARDS TO THE HOUSE! #ForeverNEpic.twitter.com/h4HsXGISoN
— Patriots Nation (@PatsNationTM) November 7, 2021
For his efforts in 2021, he was named to the Pro Bowl for the first time in his four-year pro career.
Even better, Jackson won a Super Bowl as a rookie, and as he came up in Bill Belichick’s system and culture, he likely knows what it takes to win it all.
As long as he is out for the Chargers, his absence will be glaring.
His Absence Will Greatly Hurt Early In The Regular Season
Los Angeles will start the regular season with a highly-anticipated matchup with the Las Vegas Raiders, the team that stole a playoff spot from it in that epic Week 18 overtime contest last season.
The Raiders have added Davante Adams, arguably the best wide receiver in the game, and Jackson will be needed to hold him in check.
Las Vegas, like the Chargers, is considered a Super Bowl contender, making this Week 1 game a statement game for both squads.
After that, the Bolts will travel east for a Thursday night matchup against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, another team that handed them a rough loss in 2021.
The Chiefs may not have Tyreek Hill anymore, but they still have a potent offensive attack.
At the very least, the Chargers need to win one of these two contests in order to have a real shot at first place in the AFC West.
Doing so will be a tall order without one of their best defensive players in Jackson if he is indeed unable to play.NEXT: NFL Analyst Says Chargers HC Brandon Staley Will Be Fired Soon