Take a look at where various NFL analysts and publications have the Bolts ranked at the conclusion of the 2021 NFL season.
The opinions, analysis and/or speculation expressed below represent those of individual authors and do not represent the opinions or policies of the Chargers' organization, front office staff, coaches and executives.
"On one hand, there's cause for significant optimism in Los Angeles. In Brandon Staley's first year as the team's head coach, Justin Herbert led the AFC with 5,014 passing yards. Whether it's edge-rusher Joey Bosa or safety Derwin James, the Chargers have some building blocks on defense.
The Chargers won nine games—the franchise's first winning record since 2018. But thanks to three losses over the last four weeks of the season (including an overtime loss to the rival Raiders in Week 18), the Bolts came up short of the postseason.
Herbert told CBS Sports' Jeff Kerr that the late swoon left he and his teammates with plenty of work to do in the offseason.
"I think there's plenty of things we can go back and look at and say, 'You know what, I could have done this better or I could have done that better.' There's a lot of room for improvement in the offseason. Shane Day (Chargers quarterbacks coach), Joe Lombardi (Chargers offensive coordinator) and I, we're going to spend a lot of time together talking about the offense, talking about footwork, drops, throws, all those things. When next year does come, we'll be ready to go."
"The Chargers have shown the potential to be a Super Bowl contender, including wins over Kansas City and Cincinnati during the regular season," Davenport said. "But the Bolts need to find a way to be more consistent, and with players like wideout Mike Williams and linebacker Kyzir White slated for free agency, there are some tough personnel decisions looming."'
"The Chargers deserve credit for hitting huge on Justin Herbert and quickly building up one of the league's more dangerous attacks. The path to the playoffs rests on the team's ability to fix a broken defense. Los Angeles was a bottom-five group in points and third-down conversions allowed while surrendering the most rushing yards per game (138.9) by a Chargers team in more than 30 years. Few teams in the league have more current available projected cap space than the Bolts -- spending on the right players could spark a leap to true contender status."
"It was apparent throughout the 2021 season that the Chargers' offense was not the problem. However, the defense finished last in third-down conversions allowed (49.5%), was tied for 29th in points allowed (27.0) and 26th in expected points added (minus-80.49). It allowed 138.9 yards per game on the ground, third worst in the league and the most it has allowed since 2003. Toward the end of the season the Chargers were better -- in three prime-time games they held opponents to just 63 rushing yards per game -- but something needs to be done this offseason in order for this team to make the playoffs in 2022."
"In Justin Herbert, they have a great piece to build around. The run defense has to be a priority in terms of team building this offseason."
The MMQB Staff:
"Don't let all the great playoff games make you forget about the Chargers-Raiders almost tie in Week 18 when you're ranking the games of the year. The Chargers came about as close as you can to making the playoffs without getting in."
Bolt Up for 2022!
Secure your 2022 Season Ticket Memberships today! Click here to learn more.