L.A. Chargers have a much better pass rush than anyone seems to remember

The Chargers lost a lot of talent, but a new head coach and stars in the right places should not be overlooked.
Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs
Los Angeles Chargers v Kansas City Chiefs / David Eulitt/GettyImages

The trend has gone on for so long that it almost feels truer to say the Los Angeles Chargers have always been cursed. Year after year, the Chargers come up big on paper with major roster acquisitions and bright young stars and yet between injuries and coaching, they've never been able to put the right pieces in place behind the likes of the Broncos and Chiefs.

With a new head coach in Jim Harbaugh, the Chargers finally have reason to believe that curse might be broken. They've changed paradigms in the weight room and the hope is that a different approach might yield healthier players.

So as the Chiefs are already predicted to coast to a ninth consecutive AFC West title, we might be overlooking the Chargers a bit. To get a better perspective, we asked Jason Reed, editor of Bolt Beat, to tell us more about the state of things in L.A.

When it comes to the Chargers' offense coming into 2024, what is being overlooked by those outside of L.A.?

This is a tough question, as this Chargers offense lacks talent at the skill positions. There are some players with upside who will naturally produce because of the circumstances—Ladd McConkey, Joshua Palmer, Gus Edwards—but the Chargers do not have a true game-breaker at any offensive skill position.

That being said, the answer here always feels like Justin Herbert. Herbert has been so great in his young career even though he has been dealt some of the worst hands thus far. After back-to-back seasons that were riddled with injuries, Herbert could have his best season yet in 2024, even if the passing numbers go down in a run-heavy Jim Harbaugh offense.

What's being overlooked on the defensive side?

The depth of the defense is not great, but this is one of the best pass-rushing rooms in the league. If Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack can stay healthy—which is always a big if—then the Chargers are going to be one of the most ferocious teams upfront in the league. They have five above-average pass-rushers—Mack, Bosa, Tuli Tuipulotu, Bud Dupree, Morgan Fox—that they can throw at quarterbacks on passing downs. 

What is being overlooked when it comes to the organization itself?

Ben Herbert, who was hired as the executive director of player performance, is the big x-factor here. This is a franchise that has constantly been plagued by the injury bug and Herbert's refreshing take on strength, conditioning, and how to maximize the weight room to improve durability should make a big difference.

College football is obviously a lot different than the pros, but Herbert was one of the most respected strength and conditioning coaches in the NCAA who turned that Michigan program into a juggernaut. He was one of the first names to be confirmed to join L.A. with Harbaugh, and that is for a reason.