Below are three takeaways from Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley, quarterback Justin Herbert, outside linebacker Joey Bosa and more following their Week 9 win over the Jets:
Bosa leads dominant defensive effort
Joey Bosa has expressed in recent weeks that he felt healthy after dealing with a couple of injuries early in the season.
And he sure has looked like it on Monday Night Football.
The Chargers outside linebacker shined in primetime, finishing the game with a monster stat line of 2.5 sacks, a forced fumble, fumble recovery and tackle for loss.
With the Bolts getting an early lead and never looking back, it was an opportunity for Bosa and company to pin their ears back and rush the passer on the way to a big 27-6 win over New York.
"It feels great," Bosa said after the game. "I think the energy is good, the mindset was really good the last couple of weeks, especially following a couple of tough losses. I think we're heading in the right direction, just have to keep with it."
"It's fun. Especially when you're up, it's fun knowing that they're going to throw the ball," Bosa later added about rushing the passer. "You can get after them a little bit."
Bosa was not alone however, as the trio of Bosa, Khalil Mack and rookie Tuli Tuipulotu all had big days, helping each other wreak havoc on the game. Mack and Tuipulotu added 2.0 sacks each.
The unit finished with 8.0 total sacks, four tackles for loss, seven passes defensed and three takeaways. It was the team's fourth game of 5.0-plus sacks in 2023, tied for most in the NFL as they are now tied second-most sacks in the NFL at 31.
This is what the unit looks like when healthy — something they have not had the luxury of at certain parts of the season.
"Just when we're healthy that's how they'll rush," Chargers Head Coach Brandon Staley said after the game. "They just haven't been healthy together for very long, but when they've been healthy together, that's how they've played.
Staley added: "That's why we have to keep them that way, but then when you get the other guys rushing, you know, when you have Tuli rushing as well as he is, Foxy [Morgan Fox], those interior guys, Derwin [James Jr.], it's going to create more opportunities for everybody."
When the group is rushing the passer at that level, there is an effect on everything, as the load for the entire defense gets much lighter.
"It's fun to watch. Tuli is the young gun that's come in here, humble as ever. Just ears pinned back, going [all out]. I love it. It's refreshing to me and I'm sure to Khalil and Joey, too," linebacker Eric Kendricks said. "I've seen Joey from afar, I've seen Khalil in my [division]. I know what those boys are capable of. But when you get to meet them, work with them, be friends with them … it becomes more special."
"I think they let him out of the pocket once or twice," Kendricks later added. "They did a great job of just keeping him in there and team rushing. The reason why they all had sacks is because they rushed as a team, they rushed as a unit up front. It shows in the stat line as well."
Safety Alohi Gilman added: "Those guys are beasts out there. Makes me smile, makes my job easier back there when you got guys like that up front. Super grateful to be a part of this team, a part of them, being a part of this. A bunch of Hall of Famers up front."
The success the group had rushing the passer was just a part of an overall dominant defensive performance in primetime, as the Chargers defense did not allow a touchdown on Monday night.
A lot of it came from the success in the run game once again, as they were strong in that area allowing just 64 yards on 20 carries with the longest run coming of 10 yards.
The success on run defense opened up another opportunity for the Bosa, Mack, Tuipulotu and the rest of the defensive group to do what they do best.
It was a total team effort.
"Just how we played for four quarters," Staley said about the defense's performance. "I thought from the first whistle to the last one, we competed. Thought we did the things that good defenses do.
"I thought we were physical tonight, we did a really good job against the run game, thought we rushed the passer, we limited the explosions in the deep part of the field and we were really good in the redzone," Staley added. "It was a team win and our guys, they practiced at a high level all week and they carried it to the field tonight."
Gilman makes his mark
Alohi Gilman made sure to set the tone early in the game.
On the Jets opening offensive possession and facing a third-and-6, Gilman raced over the middle of the field to break up a potential first down pass, delivering a hit on Jets wide receiver Allen Lazard in the process.
The next play after Gilman's pass breakup? Derius Davis' punt return touchdown.
It was a sign of things to come.
"We always want to be the people that set the tone early, be aggressive early," Gilman said. "That's what we've been trying to do these past couple of games. It's been something that's been working for us. Having them play on our terms is kind of what we've been going for."
On the following Jets possession with their offense driving, it was Gilman who once again delivered the momentum shifting play.
With New York on the Chargers side of the field, he knocked the ball away from Jets wide receiver Garrett Wilson. James recovered it to give the ball back to the offense.
Gilman added a fumble recovery late in the fourth quarter for good measure, as he nearly took it back for his first NFL touchdown.
It was just another example of what the fourth-year safety brings to the Chargers defense — and why he is one of the Bolts many defensive playmakers that can shift a game at any moment.
"I think you see what Lo' brings to us," Staley said about Gilman. "He brings that play style, that swagger, he's a commander back there."
"He's made a lot of big plays for us since he's been here and I think you see that trust that he creates for everybody else on the defense," Staley later added. "You know, the safety position that's very important to the job description is how you make others play. You've got to be that quarterback back there that makes everybody play calm and he's just playing at a high level for us."
Gilman returned from injury last week after not playing since Week 3, something that was a tough pill to swallow for the safety.
But it was not all bad, as the safety was able to learn a lot from his time missed.
"I'm excited, super blessed," Gilman said. "Obviously being out wasn't fun, but I learned a lot. I was able to have a better understanding of what it takes to be out there and grateful for God giving me this opportunity."
All Gilman has done is make plays in the Bolts secondary, and with his return comes that steadiness that the unit has become accustomed to.
"He's consistent," James said. "When you're consistent and you work hard and you mix with all that God blessed him with, it's no better teammate I rather have out there than Lo.
"He's a baller for us, he makes plays everywhere, consistent and fun," James added.
Bolts control turnover margin
Although the stat sheet tonight might not be ideal for the offense, they were perfect in one of the biggest categories that decide each game — zero turnovers.
Couple that with the fact the Chargers defense was able to force three of their own and you get a recipe for big win on the road.
"I thought we were able to just do enough but probably that the best thing that we did was take care of it tonight," Staley said. "We didn't have any of those plays that allowed them to get back into the game, to allow their defense to kind of truly get going so I thought that was a big positive for tonight.
"We came on the road and won the takeaway margin, that's a big thing on offense," Staley added.
Entering Week 9, the Chargers were tied for the third-best turnover differential in the league. After this performance on Monday night, the Bolts are now tied for the best margin in the NFL.
When going up against a dangerous Jets defense as they did in Week 9, the last thing the offense would want to do is let them change the game with a turnover — which is exactly what the unit did.
"They're a good team. We've got to do a good job of protecting and getting the ball out quickly, but I thought we did a good job not turning the ball over, being safe and a punt is not a bad thing against a team like that," Herbert said. "They're a really good defense, they got after it, but I thought there were some good things that we did offensively."
Herbert later added: "They're a very good defense. They're very well coached and they got after it today, but I thought we did a good job not turning the ball over. We had a couple of punts and a few miscues, but those are things we can fix, and the defense came up with a big stop today."
And on the defensive side the unit has now taken the ball away 12 times in eight games, half as many as they had just a season ago.
It was a big difference in the defensive battle, as the Bolts continue to thrive in an area they focused on all offseason heading into the year.
"It's huge. The turnover margin is something that Coach Staley and the staff harped on early on in training camp and in OTAs," Gilman said. "It's a part of who our identity is and we'll continue to build on. It's a big advantage for us on the field."
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