Skip to main content

Chargers Official Site | Los Angeles Chargers -

Group Chat | Where Will the Chargers be After Week 18?


We're only 10 days away from the Chargers season opener against the Dolphins.

With that in mind, it's time to dive into some storylines surrounding the Bolts.

Here's what Jeff Miller (Los Angeles Times), Joe Reedy (The Associated Press), Daniel Popper (The Athletic) and Eric Smith ( had to say about the 2023 season:

What's the Chargers biggest strength ahead of Week 1? And an area for possible concern?

Miller: Their biggest strength is the guy with all the money, quarterback Justin Herbert. As long as Herbert is healthy, the Chargers will be a threat regardless of who they're playing. I fully expect him to perform at an MVP level if the Chargers are able to remain largely intact health-wise.

Biggest concern for me will remain the defense - overall - until that group proves otherwise. They simply need to be better stopping the run, limiting explosive plays and getting off the field. The Chargers still feel a little thin at safety and an injury to Joey Bosa or Khalil Mack could prove problematic. J.C. Jackson's health will be another season-long storyline. If he is unavailable or struggles again like he did early in 2022, the cornerback depth takes a major hit.

Reedy: The biggest strength of the team remains Justin Herbert and the passing game. People point to his numbers being down last season, but he directed the team to a 10-7 record despite multiple games without his top two receivers and he was dealing with a rib injury that should have kept him out for a couple games. He's more relaxed, confident and seems to have taken to Kellen Moore's offense and philosophy.

Possible concern to me is the defense, because however the defense goes will determine where this season goes for the Chargers. Since most of the key starters did not play during the preseason, we still don't know if this unit can contain big plays and limit opposing running games. In terms of limiting big plays, Week 1 will be a very good test with Miami's Tyreek Hill.

Popper: Justin Herbert is the Chargers' biggest strength. He will continue to be that as long as he is the team's starting quarterback. Herbert is the primary reason the Chargers will be contenders year after year. An area of concern is the run blocking at tight end. It was a weakness for the offense last year, and the Chargers did not add any talent to their tight end room in the offseason.

Smith: Let's make it 4-for-4 here. Herbert is the obvious choice here. He's perhaps a generational talent at quarterback and has improved in each of his first three seasons in the league, even if his numbers dipped a bit a year ago due to Injuries to both himself and those around him. An area I'll be watching is the run defense, which has been a point of emphasis for the Bolts this offseason. Keep an eye on new linebacker Eric Kendricks and the impact he makes in this phase of the defense.

Who is the biggest X-factor for the Bolts in 2023?

Miller: I'm going to stick with Jackson here. If he can remain available all season and provide productivity close to what he did in New England, the Chargers' defense has a chance to be significantly better based on that alone. With Jackson back, Asante Samuel Jr. will move inside, where the coaches say he can excel. That still needs to be proven on game day, but Jackson's presence and play greatly influences so much of what's happening in the back end of this defense.

Reedy: I'm going to go out on a limb on this one and say LB Eric Kendricks. He has the green dot and will relay the calls from the sideline. He also was a good run defender during his career with the Vikings.

Popper: Joey Bosa. Bosa missed most of last season with a torn groin. He said the surgery he underwent in September cleaned up a lot of the chronic pain he was dealing with in his core area. If Bosa can stay healthy and return to an All-Pro level as a pass rusher and run defender, that would significantly elevate the Chargers defense.

Smith: The entire offensive line. The Bolts have talent littered throughout their offensive roster, whether it's Herbert, Austin Ekeler or the deep group of wide receivers. The O-line has talent, too, and it's a group I feel can really reach their full potential in 2023. Rashawn Slater and Corey Linsley are among the best at their respective positions, Zion Johnson and Jamaree Salyer are key young pieces and Trey Pipkins III is ascending as a player. This group could be a top-5 unit across the league. If that happens, it likely means a much-improved run game and a big season from Herbert.

Check out the best photos from practice on Wednesday at Hoag Performance Center.

Name an under-the-radar player to watch.

Miller: Alohi Gilman is a sneaky significant defender to watch in 2023. He's taking over for Nasir Adderley and needs to be productive and available for this defense to realize its full potential. Behind Gilman is JT Woods, who still feels like a work in progress right now. Woods has taken some strides forward this training camp and preseason, but Gilman remains much steadier and more dependable. He's also one of the defense's best playmakers, which isn't a minor distinction for a defense that needs to improve at taking the ball away.

Reedy: Derius Davis. Can he show the same flash on a consistent level in the return game that he did in the first preseason game against the Rams. Being both the main kick and punt returner is also a huge ask for a rookie.

Popper: Joshua Kelley. New offensive coordinator Kellen Moore featured one of the league's best running back duos in Dallas in Ezekiel Elliott and Tony Pollard. Austin Ekeler is a known quantity. Can Kelley be that No. 2 back? He has looked great during training camp and preseason, especially on his 75-yard touchdown run against the 49ers.

Smith: I was going to go with Kelley but Popper had the same idea. So I'll pivot to Ja'Sir Taylor, a second-year cornerback who could play a bigger role on defense in 2023. Taylor will still likely be a core special teams player, but he could also mix into the slot and give the Chargers a bigger body in the secondary.

Which regular-season game do you have circled?

Miller: I'm going to get this one out of the way quickly: the season-opener against Miami at home. The Dolphins are going to arrive remembering what happened during their visit to SoFi Stadium in December. That day, the Chargers throttled the Dolphins' track-team offense, holding Tyreek Hill and the rest to 219 total yards. Tua Tagovailoa finished that game 10 of 28 for 145 yards. Plus, Miami's new defensive coordinator is Vic Fangio, one of the coaches who greatly impacted Brandon Staley on his way up. The Dolphins will have a lot of reasons to play very well on Sept. 10.

Reedy: Week 6 vs. Dallas on Monday Night Football. The Chargers are coming back from an early bye, Moore faces his old team and Herbert has performed well in prime-time games.

Popper: Week 6, Monday night against the Cowboys at SoFi Stadium. The Moore revenge game. Dallas head coach Mike McCarthy provided all the bulletin board material the Chargers needed at the combine in February. "Kellen wants to light the scoreboard up," McCarthy said then, "but I want him to run the damn ball so I can rest my defense."

Smith: Personally, the Week 3 game in Minnesota be a fun one. (Hey, I worked for the Vikings for six seasons, what do you expect?) But if we're looking at it from an on-the-field focus, give me the regular-season finale against the Chiefs at home. I might be in the minority of this group, but I expect plenty to be a stake in Week 18 at SoFi Stadium.

Final question … where will the Chargers be after Week 18?

Miller: I'm going to say preparing for a Wild-Card playoff game. This is a roster built to contend and contend in 2023, particularly given the cap situation awaiting the Chargers next year. The most significant determining factor will be health. If they aren't dealt a series of impactful injuries, I have a hard time believing the Chargers won't be playoff contenders throughout. Unfortunately for them, the Chiefs are still the Chiefs and still in the AFC West.

Reedy: Conventional wisdom is in the playoffs for the second straight season. With the AFC East and NFC North this season, as well as Baltimore and Dallas, the schedule is more difficult this year even before assessing the changes around the AFC West. This team has been tested after painful finales the past two seasons, but only time will tell.

Popper: Looking ahead to a road Wild-Card playoff game. I don't think the Chargers will challenge the Chiefs for the division. But they are too talented to miss the postseason as long as Herbert stays healthy.

Smith: In the playoffs. As I mentioned above, that Week 18 game against the Chiefs could be for the division and playoff seeding. I do think the Bolts will be in the postseason no matter what happens. The schedule is indeed tougher than it was a year ago. But I believe the Bolts get a little more injury luck in 2023 and also navigate the season with a renewed hunger given how last season ended.

Bolt Up!

Secure your 2023 Season Ticket Memberships today! Click here to learn more.

From Our Partners