The Chargers have been lucky enough to feature a dynamic pass-rush duo for the better part of the past seven seasons. First, it was Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. Then, prior to Bosa’s severe injury in 2022, him and Khalil Mack were set to become arguably the best pairing in the league.
Now that both veterans are healthy once again, there’s no doubt that expectations will be lofty once again.
But don’t just take my word it. Pro Football Focus’ Trevor Sikkema ranked both Bosa and Mack inside his top 32 edge rushers in the NFL entering the 2023 season, with the former making the highest tier (sixth overall) and the latter at the top of tier three (13th).
Here’s what Sikkema had to say about the Big Bear:
“Despite some fading hype, Joey Bosa is one of the most talented edge rushers in the league. He had three consecutive seasons with 90.0-plus pass rush grades from 2019-2021, and though he missed time last year, he still recorded a 21.5% pass rush win percentage.”
And here’s what he had to say about Mack:
“Mack has declined the past two years from his elite days, as his pass rush win percentage decreased from 14.4% in 2021 to just 11.0% in 2022 while his run-defense grades went from 64.7 to 61.3. Nonetheless, a healthy Bosa and more depth on the Chargers defensive line should enable him to find more success in 2023.”
Sikkema hits home on the key stats here. Bosa continues to be one of the best in a number of pass-rush metrics while unfortunately underwhelming in the sack category. The 2022 injury aside, Bosa also had to get accustomed to playing in a two-point stance during Brandon Staley’s first season. He collected just 10.5 sacks in 2021, which I believe may end up being what we can expect from him each season going forward. Bosa has always played with a hand in the dirt and the get-off from that start is always going to be a bit more explosive than in a stand-up position. Either way, getting him to stay healthy is the first part. Polishing his game from there would be the next thing to worry about.
As for Mack, him being able to finish a season strong after popping off through the first eight or nine games (seven sacks) could go a long way for the Chargers this season. In my opinion, the defense got insanely lucky that guys like Kyle Van Noy and Morgan were able to step up down the stretch when Mack couldn’t muster more than one sack in the team’s final eight games.
It’s always going to come back to health and consistency over anything with this franchise. It’s the reason every offseason feels like Groundhog’s Day. Will 2023 finally be the year it all comes together? Here’s to hoping.