This week, Michael Peterson of Bolts from the Blue was kind enough to answer some questions to help with what is going on with the Chargers and where their fans are in the process of dealing with 2022.
1. Despite all of the noise, the Los Angeles Chargers are 5-5 and sitting a game back of the Cincinnati Bengals for the final wild card spot. Is it false hope or should fans stay hopeful?
I think history always tells us that it’s false hope for the Chargers, but I can’t help but believe there’s real, tangible hope for the team this season. Finishing 4-3 down this final seven-game stretch would have the Chargers mimic their 2021 record which almost put them in the playoffs a year ago. However, a 5-2 record and an overall 10-7 record would almost surely push them into the postseason. If the latter ends up being the case, I see losses to both the Dolphins and Titans. If they end up losing a third, I see that coming at the hands of the Colts due to their revitalized run game.
The Chargers are still waiting to get any sort of timetable on Joey Bosa’s return. The original amount of time he was expected to miss was 10 weeks. That’s coming up here in week 13 or 14, which means ideally he’s back in mid-December. But as things stand, it doesn’t look like that’ll be the case.
Overall, the fact that this team is 5-5 after the plethora of injuries is almost unbelievable. They’ve won a lot of close games, but when you’re that beat up, you can’t be picky about how those wins come to you.
2. Justin Herbert has not been as good, but he has dealt with a litany of injuries around him especially along the offensive line and at wide receiver. Are you holding off on being concerned because of the injuries or have you seen anything that gives you actual pause?
Herbert certainly looked like a regression candidate through the team’s bye in week eight, but he’s since returned to form, especially against the 49ers and the Chiefs. Now that isn’t because he’s back to throwing for over 300 yards and three touchdowns every week, but it’s his comfort level out on the field to not only run around, but to also attempt those insane off-platform throws he’s been known for early in his career. Herbert is doing just about everything he can for a team that’s struggling to either protect him or get open for him down the field. If the team can continue to get healthier around him, the Chargers should get a bit closer to looking like the team that had sky-high expectations during the preseason.
3. Why can the Chargers not stop the run? (I mean they should this week if Kyler Murray doesn’t play, but besides that).
Right off the bat I have to point to the injuries, but they were also pretty bad before that. The loss of Joey Bosa hurt and it essentially opened up one entire side to run the ball with increased effectiveness. The talent level behind the team’s top two edge rushers takes quite a steep drop. The second level also isn’t all that great outside of Drue Tranquill. Kenneth Murray has been pretty atrocious at stopping the run outside of a game or two and the Chargers’ lack of consistent tackling ability in the secondary also continues to haunt them week after week.
4. There are too many injuries to count for the Chargers, but is Brandon Staley on the hot seat if they don’t make the playoffs?
I don’t think Staley is at risk of being fired unless he comes close to losing every game through the remainder of the regular season. In fact, I would go as far as to say that general manager Tom Telesco is at a higher risk of being fired before Staley is.
Should Staley be fired, why would the franchise continue to keep a general manager who would then be tasked with finding his fourth head coach of his 11-year tenure? That wouldn’t make any sense. Telesco has two playoff appearances to his name and his draft record isn’t nearly as sterling as some people think. It’s great that he landed a number of excellent first-round picks, but his record for day two and three picks is almost non-existent.
Truly, the Chargers have the most amount of WAR (wins above replacement) lost due to injuries this season by a large margin. If there was ever a coach who should get a free pass for the lack of success in a season due to the amount of injuries, this is it. I don’t think Staley is going anywhere.
5. The Chargers team total on DraftKings Sportsbook is 26.5... Are you taking the over or under against a porous Arizona Cardinals defense?
With Keenan Allen back in the lineup, I am taking the over here. If the Chargers want to be taken seriously, they need to show they can take advantage of a bad scoring defense. With Allen, Austin Ekeler, and Joshua Palmer at Herbert’s disposal, this team shouldn’t struggle to get into the end zone against this Arizona defense.