Around this time last offseason, the fine folks at CBS Sports threw together their annual rankings of the NFL’s best offensive triplets which usually are made up of the team’s quarterback, running back, and their top pass-catcher. That usually means the team’s best wide receiver, but in the case of the Chiefs, it’s their All-World tight end.
Heading into the 2022 season, the Chargers were actually given the honor of employing the league’s top trio in Justin Herbert, Austin Ekeler, and Keenan Allen. Those players still make up the trio for the Bolts, but after a down year from two of the three members, they’ve fallen down to fifth in this year’s rankings.
After finishing the 2021 season as one of two quarterbacks to throw for over 5,000 yards, Herbert saw his numbers drop across the board in a season plagued by injuries and lackluster execution from the offense around him which ended inevitably in the firing of former offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Shane Day.
Allen missed seven games due to a nagging hamstring injury but when he was healthy and on the field, he looked as ever.
We all now what Ekeler did. Another 18 total touchdowns scored and he’s still not getting as much love around the league as he probably should. But as it stands, it looks like Herbert and Allen’s final 2022 statistics were the main factors that caused their drop from the top spot.
Unsurprisingly, the addition of Kellen Moore as the new offensive coordinator has Dubin and many others excited about the prospects of the Chargers offense in 2023.
“A change in offensive coordinator from Joe Lombardi to former Cowboys coordinator Kellen Moore should finally get Herbert throwing the ball down the field more often,” says NFL analyst Jared Dubin. “A player with his skill set ranking 31st out of 35 qualifying quarterbacks in air yards per attempt over the past two seasons is inexcusable. Prescott ranked a much more respectable 11th among the same group of players, and if Moore can nudge Herbert in that direction, L.A. will be better for it. Still, his top two targets are likely to remain Ekeler and Allen, who excel at finding the soft spots underneath and remain absolute target monsters who produce at a high level whenever they’re healthy.”
The four teams who ranked above the Chargers (in ascending order) are the Bills, Eagles, Chiefs, and the Bengals who take the top spot this year with the trio of Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, and Ja’Marr Chase. As you can probably see, the AFC is dominating the NFL in terms teams packing massive amounts of offensive firepower. That obviously paints a rough path for the Chargers when you consider all the teams they’ll have to fight through, but it’s not out of the question that the team’s trio, along with Moore, could realistically surprise with a top-five offense this year. If this group is able to put it all together — in true story book fashion — then we could all be in for one heck of a season.