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Another Playoff Season Gone: What the Chargers Need To Do To Make It to the Super Bowl
By: Sofia Villalpando
Over the past five seasons, the Chargers have made the playoffs twice, but have not had a Super Bowl appearance since 1994. With two stellar quarterbacks and an incredible offense, it has been a shock to Chargers fans along the coast why the team hasn’t progressed as far as they should. Phillip Rivers spent an incredible 2018 season with the Chargers, and this past 2022 season, Justin Herbert dominated the league. In both of these years, despite their successful regular seasons, the Chargers fell short of a Super Bowl appearance. What went wrong?
The Chargers won a total of 12 games in 2018 and 10 in 2022, but barely clinched a playoff spot in both seasons. They played a total of 17 games with 131 reported injuries throughout the season, playing more than half of the season they were forced to play without a reliable offensive line. With the upward trend of teams relying on running plays, the Chargers hit an all-time low.
In this article, I will be analyzing the Los Angeles Chargers' 2018 and 2022 seasons and predicting what needs to change for them to get to the Super Bowl.
Based on the plays recorded when Rivers and Herbert played in their respective seasons, data provided by ESPN illustrated that the quarterbacks relied on passing throughout the entire season, exponentially more than rushing plays. They seemed to rely on these plays from their offensive coordinators, who consistently recommended passing plays when their offensive injury reserve was through the roof. A closer look at these stats shows us that passing yards are tremendously higher than rushing yards, and in these respective seasons, the injury reserve was stacked with players.
The Chargers’ statistics have been outstanding compared to the other teams in the playoffs, however, in both seasons that they made the playoffs, the team was near the top of the NFL’s injury reserve. In this past 2022 season, there were 198 injuries reported on the injury reserve, mostly offensive players. Although Herbert was putting in the work, it seems that the team could not deliver partially because he had no support.
Throughout the season, Herbert paralleled Rivers’ passing yards from the 2018 season but was rushing significantly more often. However, his insignificant rush attempts did nothing without consistency. The amount of passing yards that both Rivers and Herbert recorded in their playoff seasons is much higher than their rushing, which stems the question, why not focus on rushing more often with the quarterbacks?
Over the past five seasons, the Chargers have had three offensive coordinators who all failed to deliver a Super Bowl title or appearance. Joe Lombardi was the team’s offensive coordinator in the past 2021-2022 seasons, encouraging passing plays like Ken Whisenhunt
did in the 2018 season.
During his incredible 2022 season, Justin Herbert ran remarkable numbers and finished strong. Although the Chargers weren’t able to secure a Super Bowl spot, it will be exciting to see their growth over their next seasons with Kellen Moore as their new offensive coordinator. Hopefully, his excellence will help the Chargers secure a Super Bowl spot and even a title for the first time in history. It will also be thrilling to watch how Herbert adjusts to new plays and hopefully more runs throughout the next season.