The entire Chargers 2022 season felt like a rollercoaster ride.
The same can be said of the Bolts defensive performance this past season, as it featured ups, downs and almost everything in between, too.
The Chargers tied for 11th in the leaguer with 22.6 points allowed per game and finished 20th overall with 346.1 yards allowed per game.
On a more analytical level, the Bolts were 23rd in EPA per play allowed.
There were bright spots, such as the overall play in the final month of the season. But there was also some frustrating moments, too, especially as different players shuffled in and out of the lineup due to injuries.
Key players such as Joey Bosa, J.C. Jackson, Derwin James, Jr. and Austin Johnson combined to miss 36 games. Bosa and Jackson missed a dozen games apiece.
Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley summed up the state of the defense in his year-end press conference.
"I think down the stretch those last six games that we were the No. 1 defense in the NFL and it allowed us to get into the tournament," Staley said. "You measure yourself on how you're playing against the best people in the NFL. Certainly, when we played Miami and how we played against San Francisco and Kansas City, I think you saw like at the beginning of the year when we had our full team in those first two games, what that looked like.
"That next stretch where you kind of get cleaned out, I thought we made a lot of adjustments that allowed us to hang in there and play well enough to give us a chance to win," Staley continued. "I thought, when things settled down at the end of the season, we were playing at a high level and the way that we expect to play, the standard of performance that we expect. I thought there were a lot of good takeaways from the way we finished the season.
"We got contributions from a lot of guys. I thought we developed guys well," Staley added. "I think with as many new guys as we brought in the offseason, defensively, I'm excited for them to get a full offseason together because I would expect that level to improve in a big way. I think, defensively, that we're headed in the right direction, for sure."
3 Strong Defensive Stats in 2022:
1. Lots of hurries
The Chargers found plenty of ways to affect opposing quarterbacks in 2022.
And they ended the 2022 season with the sixth-most hurries in the league with 198 in all. That accounted for 33-percent of the 609 pass-rushing snaps the Bolts had, meaning they hurried the opposing quarterback once every three pass attempts.
Khalil Mack led the Bolts with 43 hurries, followed by 28 from Morgan Fox and 22 from Kyle Van Noy.
2. Passing yards allowed per game
The above stat likely plays a factor in this one, too.
Staley said multiple times this season that his philosophy is rooted in not giving up tons of passing yards per game.
True to form, the Chargers finished seventh in the league with just 200.7 passing yards allowed per game.
They also gave up just 320 completions, which ranked second in the league.
3. An uptick in takeaways
The Bolts improved on their takeaway totals in Staley's second season in charge.
The Chargers forced 24 turnovers in 2022, which tied for 11th in the NFL. They created 21 takeaways the season before.
The Bolts actually recovered the same number of fumbles as the previous season but recorded three more interceptions.
Take a look back at some of the best Chargers photos in monochrome from the 2022 season
2 Stats That Need to Improve in 2023:
1. Yards per carry allowed
The Chargers run defense had some shaky moments throughout the season. They ended up allowing 5.42 yards per rushing attempt, which ranked 32nd among all teams.
The Bolts were hurt by big plays that inflated that yards per carry number, as the defense allowed six rushing scores of at least 20 yards in 2022.
2. Missed tackles
This stat also likely plays into the numbers directly above.
Staley said after the Chargers season that he felt like the overall unit did not tackle as well as they could have throughout the course of the season.
The numbers back that up, as the Chargers ranked 26th with 150 total missed tackles in 2022. That area of concern was prevalent in the run game, where the Bolts had the third-most missed tackles on running plays with 98.
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