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Chargers Mailbag: Bolts Quiet at Trade Deadline, Looking Ahead to Atlanta

Mailbag 11.02

Welcome to the Chargers Mailbag! I'm Senior Writer Eric Smith, and I answer questions from the Bolt Fam each and every week.

Send in submissions for the Mailbag here on Twitter or by sending me an email.

Off we go…

Let's dive into the trade deadline right away. These two tweets were a few of many I received about the Bolts and their eventual lack of a move by Tuesday afternoon.

If you've read the Mailbag the past few weeks, you know that I did not expect the Chargers to make a move, a notion that proved to be true. That certainly doesn't mean the Bolts didn't likely call around to see what the market was like.

And while fans are certainly to disagree with what the Bolts did (or didn't) do, here is another attempt at an explanation of why the front office stood pat.

Let's go back to the spring, when the Chargers traded for Khalil Mack and signed defenders such as J.C. Jackson, Sebastian Joseph-Day, Austin Johnson, Bryce Callahan and Morgan Fox.

Chargers General Manager might have been the most popular guy on Twitter, with fans and pundits alike praising him for a series of top-notch moves.

Now? People are irate that he didn't make a move for a mid-level player to help the team at the trade deadline.

Welcome to the life of an NFL general manager, where you have to keep an eye on both the current team as well as the squad a few years out.

The Bolts, as we all know, have been hit hard by injuries this season. Is it worth it to trade for a player, such as a wide receiver, right now with the hopes they will save the season?

Not to me.

And as I've stated here before so much — contract, finances, age, health, scheme fit — goes into acquiring a player.

The Chargers are going forward with who they have, even if that group looks a little different than what we saw at the beginning of the season.

But the Chargers will eventually get Joey Bosa, Mike Williams, Joshua Kelley and Dustin Hopkins back from their injuries. The hope is that Keenan Allen returns to full health soon, as well as Joshua Palmer, Donald Parham, Jr., and Chris Rumph II.

One way you can look at it is that collection of players will be the Bolts trade deadline acquisitions.

Going forward, the Bolts will need to find a way to gut out some wins, with the hope that they are in a position to make a run at the playoffs in December and January with plenty of reinforcements.

The Chargers stats in the run game entering Week 9 can be a focal point for improvement going forward.

The Bolts are 27th in rushing yards per game (88.9) and 28th in yards per attempt (3.72).

A few weeks ago, I wrote that nobody expected the Chargers to go out and run for 200 yards a game. Of course, then they ran for 238 yards in Cleveland.

Overall, however, the Chargers just need their run game to be competent in order to provide balance on offense and take some pressure off Justin Herbert.

That unit will surely need to be better in the final 10 games, and it's likely the Chargers offensive staff dove into that area in the bye week to try and find a way to ignite it.

Getting Kelley back will presumably help, too. He has shown great vision and burst but is currently on Injured Reserve with a sprained NFL suffered on special teams.

I'll add this on the run game: it takes all 11 players to make it work. All 11 players need to execute their jobs in order for a run to be successful.

If that doesn't happen, what could be a six or seven-yard run will only be two or three yards.

There's no doubt Drake London and Kyle Pitts are really talented players. They were both top-10 picks for a reason.

The Falcons don't throw the ball a ton — they rank 24th with just 178 pass attempts thus far. And while Atlanta is 29thoverall with just 162.6 passing yards per game, they rank 6th in passing yards per play (7.31).

But another way: the Falcons aren't throwing the ball a ton, but they are hitting big plays when they do.

A solid run game likely helps that threat, and that's exactly what the Falcons have. Atlanta ranks fifth overall with 158.1 rushing yards per game. Four players, including quarterback Marcus Mariota, have rushed for 250-plus yards this season.

We don't need to rehash the struggles of the Chargers run defense here, but they will certainly be tested Sunday on the road. We'll see if they can rise to the challenge after the bye week.

After this year's draft, I was very interested to see what the Chargers would do with Zander Horvath, especially since I feel they have lacked a big, strong short-yardage running back. After Zander Horvath scored a touchdown in the first two games of the season, I was expecting him to be more involved in the offense. Since then, it seems like he has disappeared. With his ability to run and catch the ball and with his size and strength, why isn't he getting the ball more in short yardage and goal line situations? Thanks for taking fan questions. (Jeffrey Kim via email)

After Horvath scored in Week 1, the joke between Hayley Elwood, Chris Hayre and I was that he was the front runner for the Offensive Rookie of the Year.

We could only laugh after Week 2 when he scored again, as he was a lethal red-zone threat early in his career.

Since then, however, Horvath has been relatively quiet, but that doesn't mean he isn't doing his job.

The life of a fullback can be a lonely one, as evident in practice when Horvath is usually working by himself with a blocking sled while running backs go through other drills. And it can be a thankless one, too, much like an offensively lineman.

Horvath was a seventh-round pick, so let's keep that in mind when putting rookie expectations on him. To me, he's been solid and exactly what the Chargers hoped for.

We'll close it out with this one … where I'll give two predictions on wildly different topics.

For the first one, I won't give you a specific record prediction. But I do think the Chargers will make the playoffs.

I know there's a downcast vibe around the team right after a tough loss going into the bye, but there is still plenty of resolve, fortitude and talent on this squad.

You heard it here: the Bolts will be in the postseason for the first time since 2018.

As for the World Cup, that's a prediction I'm much less sure about. I haven't done my full-on research yet, but give me Spain to win it all.

They aren't the top favorites — and my confidence level there isn't super high — but I predicted them to win in 2010 and did then. Maybe it will happen again.

That will do it for this week.

As always, you can find me on Twitter at @Eric_L_Smithand submit your questions for the Chargers Mailbag.

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