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5 Takeaways from Bolts Entering Week 3

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The Chargers are 1-1 following a pair of division games to open the season.

Here are five takeaways entering Week 3:

1. Khalil Mack is back

There was plenty of outside chatter this offseason about Khalil Mack, with many pundits wondering if he had lost a step of late.

Nobody is saying that about the Chargers outside linebacker after his strong start to the 2022 season.

Through two games, Mack ranks second in the league with 3.5 sacks, trailing only Micah Parsons of the Cowboys.

Mack notched a trio of sacks in the season opener and then collected a half-sack against the Chiefs, sharing it with Drue Tranquill. He also forced a fumble in Week 1.

There's still a long ways to go this season, but Mack has been a dominant threat on the field as he's teamed with Joey Bosa to create a dangerous defensive duo.

2. An improved run defense

Speaking of Bosa, he has 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble through two games. Here's what Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said of Bosa after Week 1:

"I thought that he played a tough, rugged game," Staley said. "I thought that he played a team game. I thought that the way that he played was what we expect from him.

"I thought he did a lot of little things well, and again, and I appreciate that, because everyone knows what he's capable of rushing the passer," Staley added. "He did a lot of little things in the game that are going to be a big reason why he has a very complete football season this year."

Put another way, Staley was praising Bosa in multiple facets of his game, not just in rushing the quarterback.

And Bosa is a key reason why the Bolts run defense ranks seventh in the league entering Monday night. Through two games, the Chargers are allowing just 78.5 rushing yards per game.

The Bolts gave up just 64 rushing yards to the Raiders in Week 1 before allowing 93 yards to the Chiefs, although 52 of Kansas City's yards came on one play.

The Chargers will need to be stout again Sunday against a Jacksonville offense that is averaging 109.5 rushing yards per game so far in 2022.

3. Run game a work in progress

Of the NFL teams that have played twice this season, the Chargers offense ranks seventh with 378.0 total yards per game.

Justin Herbert and the passing attack has been responsible for most of those, however, as Herbert is averaging over 300 passing yards per game.

(As for the quarterback's health, Staley said Friday that he "has a fracture to his rib cartilage" and is considered day-to-day).

Staley also touched on the run game Friday and said that phase of the offense hasn't fully clicked yet.

"I think it's just been tough sledding early on. We haven't been able to get the explosions," Staley said. "There have been a lot of just bloody runs. We just haven't been able to create the air yet, so far.

"Just a work-in-progress with our group, in terms of featuring the runs based on who's blocking for them, I think that's a big part of it," Staley added. "I think that we're going to keep working hard at it to keep improving as we go."

The Chargers played most or all of the second half without starting center Corey Linsley (knee) and right tackle Trey Pipkins III (foot).

Through two games, the Bolts rank second-to-last in the NFL with 2.75 yards per carry.

4. Scott, punt coverage on point

The Chargers punt coverage has been among the league's best early on.

JK Scott, who was added as a free agent this offseason, has averaged 43.9 yards on 10 punts, landing four of them inside the 20-yard line.

But Scott's net punting average is 42.9 yards, meaning the coverage unit has limited any big returns.

In fact, the Bolts have allowed just 10 punt return yards on four attempts, as that 2.5-yard average currently ranks as the fourth-lowest total in the league.

5. Parity ruling the league (again)

The Chargers split their first two games, as both came against AFC West foes.

With the Week 2 slate, the Chargers find themselves among the 18 teams that are currently 1-1 on the young season. Sunday's opponent, the Jaguars, are also in that group.

And, as many as 20 teams could be an even .500 after a pair of games on Monday night.

So while Thursday's result in Kansas City was disappointing, the Chargers have positioned themselves solidly so far, especially based on their early-season schedule.

The Bolts first six games are all against AFC teams, with three games in the division. If the Chargers can be a in a good spot at the bye in Week 9, that will potentially set them up for a second-half playoff run.

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