Herbert holds key to Chargers’ success

The Los Angeles Chargers narrowly missed out on the playoffs last season and head coach Brandon Staley is hoping his side will make the step up this season after strengthening his squad in offense and defense.

Fans of the Chargers have plenty of grounds for optimism after Justin Herbert maintained his position as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL. It is only Herbert’s third professional season, but he has already made a big impact since replacing Tyrod Taylor at the start of the 2020 season.

Breaking rookie records

In the previous two seasons, the 24-year-old has broken a number of rookie records, including most touchdown passes, most completions, and most 300-yard games, which led to him being presented with the Associated Press NFL Rookie of the Year Award as the best offensive player in 2020. He has continued to improve, becoming the first NFL quarterback to record 30 touchdown passes in both of his first two seasons along with the most passing yards for a quarterback in the same period. His 5,014 passing yards were second only to NFL legend Tom Brady.

Herbert has also benefited from the guidance of Brandon Staley. Staley has been head coach of the Chargers since January 2021 and he has built his offense around the talented quarterback. In his third season in the NFL, Herbert will be expected to turn his impressive stats into victories and he is predicted to improve once again. The pressure is on as the Bolts last made the playoffs in the 2018 season.

Staley has a range of attacking options for the new season with wide receivers Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, plus running back Austin Ekeler already in place. This has been bolstered in the lead-up to the new season by two offensive signings in the 2022 NFL Draft in the form of 22-year-old offensive guard Zion Johnson, who was secured in the first round, and 21-year-old running back Isaiah Spiller, a fourth-round draft.

A beefed-up defense

Last season, the defense was a weak point for the Chargers and cited by Staley as the reason behind his decision to call a timeout with just 38 seconds to go in the crunch game against Las Vegas Raiders. The judgment ultimately cost his team a playoff place, as a tie would have seen both teams progress.

In the preseason, Staley has taken the necessary steps to rectify this weakness by making three big signings. He traded Khalil Mack, a move that reunites the 31-year-old outside linebacker with the Chargers head coach from their time at the Chicago Bears, and free agent Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson on a mega contract. Defensive lineman Austin Johnson is the third signing brought in to improve the Charger’s defense. These defensive signings are viewed as having the potential to make the most impact and will also create opportunities for Justin Herbert to exploit.

With the additions to the attacking options and a strengthened defense, the Los Angeles Chargers are well-placed to improve on last season’s performances. BetMGM, one of the best online betting sites, rates the Bolts as a +750 shot to win the American Football Conference, and they are priced at +1400 to win the Super Bowl. The fortified Chargers could be dark horses for the Super Bowl this season.

The Los Angeles Chargers are well-equipped to improve performances this season and while the offensive additions will add to the quality of the plays, the defensive signings could be key as they will bolster the Charger’s main weak point. The playoffs will be the minimum target for Brandon Staley and if Justin Herbert can continue his meteoric rise, even more could be in store for the Chargers.

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