With the Chargers regular-season opener just under three weeks away, the team has high hopes for the new season as they enter as one of the top teams in a very competitive AFC.
But just how high is the Bolts ceiling for 2023?
Using ESPN's Football Power Index, the outlet mapped out each team's ceiling and floor for 2023, as well as picking an X-factor that can decide which direction the team goes.
ESPN believes the Bolts ceiling is among the highest in the league.
The team was among seven total teams for the second-highest ceiling at 12-5, as the team is looking to build off a playoff berth last season. There's no question that the Bolts roster is one of the most talented in the league.
But for ESPN reporter Lindsey Thiry, the Chargers X-factor that will decide how close to that ceiling they get to will be the defensive side of the ball.
The expectations for Brandon Staley's defense have been steep after he produced the top-ranked unit as the Rams' defensive coordinator in 2020. However, the Chargers' defense has performed inconsistently in Staley's two seasons -- in part because of injuries but also because of an inability to consistently execute, especially against the run. With the expectation that offensive coordinator Kellen Moore and quarterback Justin Herbert will produce points, the defense's ability to improve on last season's 21st-ranked performance (allowing an average of 22.6 points per game) will prove critical to the team's success.
Check out the best photos from the Bolts hosting the New Orleans Saints on the fifteenth day of Training Camp 2023 at the Jack Hammett Sports Complex in Costa Mesa!
As Thiry mentioned, some of it has simply been injuries, as players like outside linebacker Joey Bosa and cornerback J.C. Jackson missed extended periods of time in 2022. But with a healthier group, the talent on the team can push them even farther.
The defense has been a topic of conversation around Chargers training camp, and the team has had strong moments going up against their own offense and against others in joint practices.
But the team understands what it's going to take to be a more consistent defense, and they hope that their play does talking for them.
"We can talk about what it is going to be, and what's this and what's that, but until we get out there and show you guys, that's the only thing that I'm interested in," outside linebacker Khalil Mack said. "The talking part it not my favorite part.
"My favorite part is going out and going on the field and making sure that all of our guys are healthy and rounding up the troops and going to kick some [butt]," Mack added.
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