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5 Chargers Takeaways Ahead of the Week 5 Bye


The Bolts are 2-2 and are off in Week 5.

Here are five takeaways from the Chargers season so far:

1. Welcome back, Rashawn Slater

Don't sleep on Rashawn Slater.

The Chargers have a stud at left tackle, something the 24-year-old has shown every time he's been on the field in powder blue.

Slater was a Second-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowler as a rookie but missed almost the entire 2022 season with a biceps injury.

The Bolts touted his return to the lineup as a big one, and Slater has delivered with his usual consistent play.

Through four games, he's tied for fifth among all offensive tackles with a pass-blocking grade of 82.3 among players with at least 100 pass-blocking snaps, according to Pro Football Focus.

He hasn't allowed a sack and has been credited with only two hits allowed.

Slater's work on the outside has also helped an improved Chargers run game average rank 12th overall at 119.8 yards per game.

2. An improved run defense

There might not have been a bigger talking point this past offseason for the Chargers than trying to improve their run defense.

Through four games, that unit is trending in the right direction.

The Bolts currently rank 13th in rushing yards allowed per game at 104.3 and are 15th in rushing yards allowed per play at 4.13.

That's a massive jump from a year ago when the unit was among the league's worst teams in both categories.

It's been a team effort, too, as players at all three levels have chipped into stop opposing running backs.

According to PFF, Derwin James, Jr. (75.), Tuli Tuipulotu (74.6) and Asante Samuel, Jr. (71.6) have been the Bolts top three run defenders thus far.

The Chargers allowed just 76 rushing yards to the Raiders in Week 4 and stymied 2022 rushing leader Josh Jacobs.

The run defense, by the way, has set the stage for the pass rush to feast. The Bolts are tied for the league lead with 16.0 total sacks.

Take a look back at the Chargers Week 4 division win over the Raiders in monochrome

3. Vintage Keenan Allen

News flash: Keenan Allen might be playing his best football ever.

The veteran wide receiver is second in the NFL in receptions (35) and fourth in receiving yards (434) through the first four weeks of the season. And his PFF receiving grade of 82.3 ranks 10th among players with at least 25 targets.

Put another way, Allen is thriving is Year 11.

The highlight, of course, was a Week 3 showcase where he set a new career best with 18 receptions and 215 yards while also throwing a touchdown pass.

The Bolts have relied on Allen heavily this far and will likely need to continue to do so with Mike Williams out for the season with a torn ACL.

Allen, who appears to be aging like fine wine, has been up to the task.

4. Stout goal-to-go defense

The past two games were heart stoppers, as both the Vikings and Raiders were on the cusp of the end zone in the final minutes.

The Chargers defense slammed the door shut both times as Kenneth Murray, Jr. and Asante Samuel, Jr. both tallied respective interceptions.

Through four games, the Chargers red-zone defense has been solid at 50 percent, which is tied for 13th in the league.

But the Bolts goal-to-go defense has simply been outstanding as it ranks sixth in the league at 53.33 percent. In other words, opposing teams that have first-and-goal are scoring touchdowns just over half of the time.

This phase of the defense has always been an emphasis under Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, as evident by the fact the Bolts defense ranked fourth in this category a season ago.

Yes, the Chargers defense has allowed some big plays through the air. But the unit has tightened up when it's been needed the most and directly impacted back-to-back wins.

5. All the close games

This takeaway probably isn't surprising if you've followed the Chargers quartet of games so far.

There was a two-point loss to the Dolphins in Week 1 and an overtime loss to the Titans by a field goal in Week 2 before the Bolts bounced back with wins by four points (Vikings) and seven points (Raiders).

Each game has seen a frenzied finish, and you aren't alone if the stress level has been a little high.

But, hey, that's life in the NFL, where half of the league's games this season have been decided by one score or less.

Expect the Chargers to continue to be in tight games, especially with the Cowboys and Chiefs looming in Weeks 6 and 7.

Take a look back at the Chargers Week 4 division win over the Raiders in monochrome

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