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Chargers Mailbag: Will the Bolts Make a Move Before Tuesday's Trade Deadline?


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…

Maybe a little bit, but not drastically. Let me begin by saying that I understand and hear the chorus of fans who are clamoring for the Bolts to make a move in the next few days.

This tweet was one of many I received about the possibility of the Chargers being active. If I didn't include your tweet on the matter, consider this as my answer to it.

Given the injuries at wide receiver, cornerback and edge rusher, those positions have been popular for speculation about adding outside help.

And you can bet that the Bolts front office will certainly due their due diligence on every position and every player that might be available.

However, and I say this as someone who has plenty of experience here, this isn't like playing Madden. You can't just maneuver a trade against a computer and go on with your day.

The Chargers, and every other NFL team, have to consider a multitude of factors when deciding to trade for a player or trade them away. Age, scheme fit and injury history are at the top of that list.

A player's contract is also a crucial variable. As we've mentioned here before, the Bolts have some cap space at the moment, but not a ton. They have to weigh adding a player now, plus whatever future money their contract includes.

Remember that the Chargers were highly active in free agency this past spring. They won't be able to do that every season, and likely not after giving out a decent amount of dollars a few months ago.

Again, I hear all of you who want the Bolts to simply clap their hands together and add depth at any of the three positions above, or maybe at a different one.

But rarely does a player get traded and make a monumental splash for their new team. Can they make an impact? Sure. But it's not as if the team's entire fortune will change based on one player.

Another thing to keep in mind, players such as Joey Bosa and Joshua Kelley who are currently on Injured Reserve will be back at some point this season. Bosa is progressing well, and while there isn't a timetable for his return, the team does expect him back for some games later in the season.

Keenan Allen isn't on Injured Reserve at the moment, and neither is Mike Williams, but adding those players back into the mix when healthy will boost the offense. The same can be said for Joshua Palmer.

Williams, by the way, is expected to miss at least four weeks with a high ankle sprain. But he will be back later on this season.

Hope that all gives a window into my thinking about the trade deadline right now. I get the sentiment, but don't think it's as simple as many think.

No, I don't think that matters. Nobody was saying Austin Ekeler needed to be 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds when he was rushing for a career high in yards against Cleveland.

In general on the run game, I just think — outside of that Cleveland game — that whole operation has been off by a smidge.

Ekeler (and Kelley) are good running backs. The offensive line is talented, even with that group being banged up at times this season.

Maybe it's just a case of one guy not doing their assignment on any given play — a missed hole here, a missed block there or someone getting beat by his man.

If that happens on any given play, it's tough for that play to be a full success … think 6-plus yard run rather than a 2-yard run. And if it repeatedly happens throughout a game or season, that's how you end up with a run game that has struggled like the Chargers have.

A fair question from Tim about a player who is certainly a favorite amongst fans.

Bandy has undoubtedly has talent, and there's a reason why the Bolts have kept him around the past few years. Yet I think it's also fair to say there's a reason why he was on the practice squad during that time, too.

Bandy's skillset is primarily in the slot, and he showcased in this past preseason (18 catches for 172 yards and two scores) that he can play well.

But it's important to keep in mind that the preseason and regular season are two completely different animals.

Bandy thrived in the first two games when he was matched up against second and third-string defenders. In New Orleans, where the Saints opened with their starting defense early on, Bandy had three catches for 30 yards.

That isn't to say Bandy can't play in the league. But asking him to be Allen or Williams, or even Palmer, when those three players are all out is unfair to him.

Bandy was just elevated to the 53-man roster so he likely isn't going anywhere anytime soon. But let's put some reasonable expectations on him going forward.

First off, I wouldn't call 4-3 a sluggish start. The Chargers are not 2-5.

I'm interpreting the second part of this as Dan asking if we need scheme changes on both sides of the ball.

I do think we could see some tweaks after the bye week, but that's not a super strong statement because teams are A) always evaluating their scheme and B) always take a deep dive into their systems during the bye week.

A quote I heard earlier in my career has popped into my head recently, and I thought it was appropriate to share it here. I once heard someone say that a scheme, no matter what side of the ball you're on, is more about the Jimmies and Joes than the Xs and Os.

Put another way, coaches often adapt their schemes to fit whatever their players do well. Chargers Offensive Coordinator Joe Lombardi has shown he can do that, and that process will continue after the bye week.

Staley said as much on Monday.

"I think that when you've had as many significant adjustments to make, that's the sign of a good coach," Staley said of Lombardi. "Any time that you lose an All-Pro left tackle, an All-Pro receiver, you've had three or four receivers out at a time, a tight end that's a weapon — there have been a lot of moving parts. I think that he's done a good job of keeping us together.

"I think his experience is something that we lean on because he's had to go through it as an NFL coach. I think he has put us in a position to be 4-3," Staley added. "He has to make improvements, just like the rest of us do, but I know how hard he works, I know the level of preparation and level of detail [that he has]. I'm just glad that he's our offensive coordinator."

Is there a team that is elite in all three phases?

For a fun exercise, I looked at the top four NFL teams based on their Pro Football Focus' grades this season.

Those teams — Philadelphia, Kansas City, Buffalo and Minnesota — all happen to have the best records in the league, too.

Here's a breakdown of where each of those teams stand.

Philadelphia: 83.8 overall (1st), 78.1 offense (2nd), 76.1 defense (4th), 59.3 special teams (26th)

Kansas City: 83.4 overall (2nd), 82.4 offense (1st), 65.6 defense (19th), 90.5 special teams (t-7th)

Buffalo: 82.5 overall (3rd), 76.8 offense (5th), 75.8 defense (5th), 67.9 special teams (23rd)

Minnesota: 80.3 overall (4th), 76.4 offense (6th), 71.0 defense (9th), 79.3 special teams (18th)

The common denominator there is each of those four teams rank high in offense, which certainly leads to wins. But none of them are in the top half of the league in each category, which is tough for any team to accomplish these days.

At 4-3, the Bolts are right in the thick of things in the AFC. And there's reasons to believe — mostly better health and more consistent play — that the Chargers will be right there at the end of the season.


SoFi Stadium was built with turf, and that likely won't change anytime soon.

It's just been a bit of bad luck — see the J.C. Jackson injury — that some of the injuries have occurred.

Jackson, by the way, had surgery Wednesday on his torn patella tendon in his right leg. It will be a lengthy recovery for him, likely eight-plus months.

We'll end with this one. It's a valid question, but my answer is the same as when Stick made the 53-man roster at the end of training camp.

The team, players and coaches included, view him as a key piece to the offense in terms of his ability to help Justin Herbert in meetings throughout the week and on the sideline in games.

Stick, from all accounts, is a really bright player and is a valuable resource in the quarterback room.

And at this point of the season, the pool of players on the street is a shrinking one. With the extra practice squad spots available, teams can't really make any drastic changes to their roster in October and beyond unless it's a splashy trade.

Which, as we covered above, isn't likely to happen in the NFL. Expect Stick to remain on the roster going forward.

That will do it for this week.

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

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