The Chargers are 4-3 through seven games.
Here a deeper look at the Bolts after Week 7:
1. Jackson out for the season
Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley provided a litany of injury updates Monday afternoon.
The biggest news is that J.C. Jackson will miss the rest of the 2022 season with a ruptured patella tendon.
The Chargers cornerback was injured late in the second quarter while in coverage near the end zone. He left the game on a cart with an air cast on his right leg.
"He was going up for the ball," Staley said. "He had his head around and he was about to go jump to knock it down or pick it off. Then, something happened."
Staley also said wide receiver Mike Williams, who suffered a high ankle sprain in the second half against Seattle, will miss "weeks, not days." Staley didn't put a definite timetable on Williams' potential return.
"Try to take advantage of these next two weeks," Staley said. "Then, see where he is at."
Outside linebacker Chris Rumph II will also miss "weeks, not days" with a sprained MCL.
Wide receiver Keenan Allen played 23 snaps Sunday in his return from a hamstring injury, all in the first half.
"We just wanted to see how he felt. He practiced throughout the week, like I told you guys. He warmed up well," Staley said. "Then, as the game progressed, throughout that second quarter, he just didn't feel like he could really burst the way that he wanted to, and didn't want to risk anything happening to it.
"No setback to it yesterday, but just didn't to push it, in a way, in that second half," Staley added. "That's what happened yesterday."
Staley was also asked about the timeline for outside linebacker Joey Bosa, who was injured in Week 3 with a torn groin.
"Joey is making progress," Staley said. "I don't have a timetable for his return, other than he is making good progress. He's here in California. We're looking forward to him coming back as soon as possible."
Even with a lengthy list of injuries, Staley said it was up to players and coaches to keep persevering through the rest of the season.
"Our mindset is that we have to trust in the people here that are coming in for those guys when things like that happen, that there is no type of flinch within our organization," Staley said. "That we have the depth that we have, the type of people we have, the process that we're committed to in order to make it happen regardless of the circumstance.
"That you're not going to fall victim to that type of mindset of, 'Well, a bunch of guys are hurt. So, hey, this or that is not happening.' We have to keep it moving," Staley continued. "It's the NFL. You have to have that type of resilience and you have to be able to figure it out.
"How do you get these wins in the NFL when they are tough? That's going to be our mindset moving forward," Staley later added. "I think, through seven games, we've learned a lot, but as hard as we've had to fight through seven games, we're going to have to fight a hell of a lot harder in these last 10 to 13 games."
2. What's the Chargers identity?
The first seven games of the Bolts 2022 season have felt like a rollercoaster.
The Chargers opened with a win before losing two straight, only to rip off three straight wins to get above .500.
But Sunday left a sour taste in the locker room as a double-digit loss dropped the Bolts to 4-3 ahead of the bye.
Staley on Monday was asked what the identity of his team was entering the break.
"We're a work-in-progress. I think that we haven't played our best football, for sure," Staley said. "I think you have seen glimpses of it, but we have to bring this group together in the second half of the season.
"I think everything is in front of us, but I think for us, it's just going to be taking it a day at a time. That's what we need to do moving forward is taking it one day at a time and I think that is going to serve us well for the Atlanta game, which is where our focus is," Staley added. "I think we've had to fight really hard to be 4-3. I'm proud of the way that our guys have competed. It hasn't been pretty at all, but I think that we're in a position now where we know where we need to go and, I think, more importantly, how we need to get there."
Entering Monday night, the Bolts sit in the seventh and final playoff spot in the AFC. The Chargers are 4-2 in conference play, including a 2-1 record in the AFC West.
3. Plans for the bye week
The Bolts are in desperate need of a break, both physically and mentally.
And while players and coaches will get some time off later this week, Staley said the coaching staff will be hard at work trying to tinker with ways to find more success.
"We're going to take a hard look at everything that we do, everyone that is doing it," Staley said.
Staley noted his main focus is having a solid plan in place for when the Chargers get back in the building Monday in preparation for Week 9 against the Falcons.
Staley noted that many use the term "self-scout" during their bye weeks, but he added that notion is something the Bolts are always focused on.
"I think a big part of the bye week, people talk about self-scout, but every week you are in a self-scout mode because you have to know who you are going into these games and how other people are assessing you," Staley said. "It's not like you just wait until the bye week to self-scout everything. I think what we can do now that we have time this week is just make sure that going into the next week that we have a good look of who we are going to have up for the Atlanta game and starting to work on those type of game plans.
"All of the areas … maybe we haven't performed as well, take a good look at some contingencies and get those ready for Monday. We need to get some rest because a lot has happened in seven games," Staley added. "Sometimes, time is good to get away, re-energize and be able to take the practice field on Monday, the meetings, all of that, with a lot of intensity."
Take a look back at the Chargers Week 7 game against the Seahawks in monochrome
4. Eyeing the trade deadline
The NFL's trade deadline is a week from Tuesday, with the final sticking point at 1 p.m. (PT) for the Bolts.
Staley was asked, given the rash of injuries, if the Chargers could be in the market to make a move for an outside player.
"I think, in the next couple of days, we'll be able to assess our team a lot better," Staley said. "Coming fresh off of yesterday, we're just focused on what happened yesterday.
"We'll take the next couple of days and be able to get with [General Manager] Tom [Telesco], [Owner and Chairman of the Board] Dean [Spanos] and [President of Football Operations] John [Spanos] and make those types of discussions happen," Staley added. "We'll see. We are always going to look for avenues to enhance our team and make it better. If those avenues are possible, then we'll definitely explore them."
Wide receiver and cornerback could be among the possible targets, with Staley commenting on the former on Monday.
In the fourth quarter of Sunday's game, the Chargers were down to just one of their top five wide receivers they began the season with.
Besides Williams and Allen being out, Joshua Palmer was out with a concussion. Jalen Guyton was lost earlier in the season with a torn ACL.
DeAndre Carter, who thrived in training camp as a depth player, was the only player among that initial five that was on the field. The Bolts also used Michael Bandy and Jason Moore, Jr., players who began the season on the practice squad.
"That group has been banged up. It hasn't played together very much, that's for sure," Staley said. "We'll try to get Keenan back fully healthy, try to get Josh back. Then, with Mike, hopefully, that recovery happens sooner rather than later.
"I don't think that we've been able to truly evaluate this group because it hasn't played together very much," Staley added. "We have to make improvements, for sure, on our whole offensive football team. I really want to see that group out there together playing because that hasn't been able to happen yet so far this season."
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler has seen his target share increase, as he ranks third in the NFL with 53 receptions. He has been targeted 28 times in the past two games.
5. Bolts defense hurt by long runs
The breaking point for the Chargers defense came just past the midway point of the fourth quarter Sunday.
Down 30-16, the Bolts were looking for another stop in a last-gasp effort for a rally.
But the Seattle drive lasted just one play, as rookie running back Kenneth Walker III got loose and ran for a 74-yard touchdown up the right sideline.
Walker's score amplified a constant theme this season, as the Chargers have now allowed a run of 40-plus yards in five of their past six games. Four of those runs have gone for touchdowns, as the Bolts now rank 31stoverall by allowing 5.70 yards pr carry.
The defense, however, has been in position to make plays and limit those explosive runs to only sizable gains.
According to NFL's NextGen Stats, Walker was only expected to gain five yards on his touchdown run, meaning he was a plus-69 on that run.
In Houston, Dameon Pierce was only expected to gain seven yards before he broke off a 75-yard score.
"Guys are just trying to do too much, and that's what happens when you get put in those spots, when you're behind and you're trying to come back," Staley said. "Everyone just has to play their part in the play.
"If people do that, if they just play their part in the play, and not try to make plays outside of their job description, then you're going to play consistently well," Staley added. "On the long runs this season, there have been those types of issues in the play."
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