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Albert Breer: Chargers are Capable of Breaking Through in 2023

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The second half of Chargers Training Camp begins today.

A handful of national NFL pundits showed up in Costa Mesa so far, including Albert Beer of The Monday Morning Quarterback.

We caught up with Breer to chat about the Bolts at camp:

What's the No. 1 storyline for you at Chargers Camp?

"I think the interesting thing about where the Chargers are is the amount of talent they have on the roster. I think we've seen the frontline talent for a while now, there's a handful of teams that are sort of been in that second tier below Kansas City, Buffalo and Cincinnati. I think there are teams capable of breaking through and the Chargers are one of those teams. Whether or not they get there, they're not the only ones knocking on that door. I think the Jets would be there, the Steelers have won consistently under [Mike] Tomlin, the Ravens of course have been there before. You've got a good amount of teams, Jacksonville's another one, that I think are capable of breaking through. I think what can separate the Chargers from the rest is the that top-line talent they have. It's going to be interesting to see whether they can stay healthy over the course of the year, first and foremost, and whether or not the players who have been really good players here for a while can take the team to the next level."

Check out the best photos from the Chargers intrasquad scrimmage on the ninth day of Training Camp 2023 at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa!

What's your view of Justin Herbert going into Year 4?

"I think he came into the league a little raw, honestly. Because he played well so quickly, I think people forget that. He's already been with three offensive coordinators, two head coaches, he's seen a lot, been through a lot. I think he's right up there at the top of the league as far as talent goes. I think it's going to be interesting to see whether or not Kellen Moore is the right guy to bring it all together for him because I think, at least the way they feel out there and the way it looks on paper where Kellen's offense demands a defense to defend every player on the field, he should be the right guy. He should unlock maybe a different level in Herbert's game and allow him to use the full breath of his talent. I think he's right there at the top of the league as far as talent goes, but again I still kind of put him in the category where he's, just like kind of parallel where the team is, chasing to get into that [Patrick] Mahomes, [Joe] Burrow, [Josh] Allen category."

What does the defense need to do to be consistent?

"Health is a big part of it. Having Joey Bosa for a full season would really help. Having Derwin James, Jr., healthy helps, so I think No. 1 is health, same thing that affected them on the offensive line last year hurt them on defense. There's no getting around that. Then I think it's just being a more complete defense and really kind of getting themselves to more situations where the opponent is in long yardage and Joey and Khalil [Mack] can pin their ears back. That's going to be about stopping the run and that's why having an Austin Johnson back and healthy again is going to be really important. I'd say that's where it is. I know Brandon over the last few years has really tried to affect the roster and making it bigger up front, I do think they're a bigger football team. Being healthy and getting a little deeper on the defensive line, having Eric Kendricks in there, getting a little more out of Kenneth Murray [Jr.], I think all those things play into being able to stop the run and if you can stop the run. If you can stop the run then you can get the other team into long yardage, which is where you will see the defense really shine."

Any young players catch your eye at practice?

"Quentin Johnston, obviously. I know it's an easy one because he's a first-round pick but you just see physically you can kind of feel him, how big he is, the athletic gift he has and how he gets down the field. I think he caught one down the sideline over here today. You also saw on the other side of the field it was a body catch. I think that's a part of it with him, the big knock coming out was his hands and the drops that he had at TCU. So, can he get more consistent in that area because I know some people felt like he didn't have much of a problem catching the ball in [2021] as he had in [2022]. That would be one young guy that really stuck out. I think Zion Johnson, the guard from Boston College, has a chance to be a really good player, too. Played through some injuries last year. I think if you're talking about the offensive line becoming a real strength, that's one way it could happen, if Zion Johnson puts together the kind of year that he's capable of."

We'll put you on the spot here, will the Chargers be a playoff team this year?

"I think they will. Now I haven't done my picks yet so don't hold me to that [laughs]. The AFC is incredibly deep though, there are going to be good quarterbacks and good teams on the sideline when the playoffs start. If you look at it, there are three teams I mentioned in Buffalo, Kansas City and Cincinnati that have been in the top tier the last couple of years. After that you look at Jacksonville with Trevor Lawrence and what Doug Pederson did last year. Pittsburgh obviously what Mike Tomlin's established there a over a long period of time, same thing with John Harbaugh in Baltimore. The Chiefs, the Bills and the Bengals are what they are and then you have this layer of teams underneath them. You can get to eight, nine teams that are playoff quality, throw in Miami in there they made the playoffs last year and the Jets with Aaron Rodgers, and then Sean Payton in Denver, Bill Belichick in New England. It's not going to be easy, but I think right now I would pick them to make it."

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