The Los Angeles Chargers entered the 2022 NFL season with plenty of hope. After missing the postseason in heartbreaking fashion the season prior, the Chargers were poised to challenge the Chiefs for AFC West supremacy.
However, things haven’t gone close to as planned. On Sunday night, the Chargers will host the Kansas City Chiefs with their season potentially on the line. A win gets them back to 6-4, one game back in the division and safely in the thick of the AFC playoff race. A loss might represent the early nail in the coffin for a season that began with so much promise.
The Chargers have certainly earned their mediocre record to this point. But Los Angeles has also been crushed by injuries to key players like Joey Bosa, Keenan Allen, Rashawn Slater, J.C. Jackson and Mike Williams, to name a few.
Where would the Chargers be without all of these injuries? Let’s go game-by-game and revisit how things could’ve gone differently.
Week 2: Chargers lose 27-24 at Kansas City
What went wrong: The injury bug hadn’t hit the Chargers at this point. However, Justin Herbert did leave the game momentarily with a rib injury that lingered. If Chargers fans want some hope heading into Sunday night’s rematch, know that L.A. outgained K.C. 401-319. The turning point was an interception thrown by Herbert on Kansas City’s 1-yard line that was returned for a TD. Instead of going up 24-17 in the fourth quarter, the Chargers fell into a deficit they couldn’t crawl out of.
Week 3: Chargers lose 38-10 vs. Jacksonville
What went wrong: Jackson missed this game with an ankle injury, and the Chargers definitely missed him. Jaguars QB Trevor Lawrence put up one of the best games of his young professional career, throwing for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Herbert’s status was truly up in the air all week too, and the uncertainty led to a poor week of preparation for the offense. Los Angeles rushed for just 26 yards in the home loss. Bosa suffered a groin injury that required surgery and has sidelined him ever since.
Week 7: Chargers lose 37-23 vs. Seattle
What went wrong: Sort of everything. After winning three straight, the Chargers put up a dud at home against the upstart Seahawks. A front seven without Bosa had no answers for Seahawks tailback Kenneth Walker. Keenan Allen returned from his first injury in this game, but didn’t last long and has been out ever since with a hamstring injury. Los Angeles’ short-field passing game has taken a significant hit without Allen being there, as Joshua Palmer, Gerald Everett and Michael Bandy have struggled to serve as a consistently reliable option in the middle of the field. Los Angeles also lost Jackson for the season during this game.
Week 9: Chargers lose 22-16 at San Francisco
What went wrong: The Los Angeles offense went completely stagnant in the second half after controlling most of the game. Without both Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, Herbert reverted into a checkdown specialist, averaging 5.6 yards per attempt. Austin Ekeler led the team with seven catches but had just 39 yards as many of those throws were dump-offs. Ultimately, short-handed Los Angeles ran out of steam against a superior opponent.
Should Chargers fans give up hope?
It’s easy to write the Chargers off after a disappointing first half of the season. But Los Angeles isn’t dead yet. The Chargers hold the same record as the 7th-seed Patriots, and could get closer to full strength on offense, at least.
Williams and Allen have both practiced in a limited fashion this week, giving hope that Herbert could finally have his top two pass catchers back in action at the same time.
The two serve as excellent complementary pieces, with Allen working the middle of the field and Williams being the big-play and red zone specialist. If they both return, Palmer and DeAndre Carter can both return to more ancillary roles in the offense. The presence of Williams and Allen should also take some of the onus off of Ekeler and could open up a ground game that ranks 30th in the league.
It’s been a trying year for the Los Angeles Chargers. But the team could be getting healthier at just the right time.