By Cameron Buford, whatsgoodinsports.com

When he took over as head coach for the Chargers last season, Staley made it clear that he wanted his team to “win the line of scrimmage.” With that frame of mind, it made sense for them to focus on protecting their franchise player, Justin Herbert, in their initial offseason. Bringing on All-Pro Corey Linsley and drafting Rashawn Slater, who only made the pro bowl in his rookie season, significantly improved that side if the ball. 

Stopping the run, on known running downs, and getting to the quarterback was a challenge for the Chargers last season. It is imperative that they improve on the 4.6 yards per rush they allowed along with the minuscule 31 sacks they got last season. This offseason, the Chargers brass focused on significantly improving their porous run defense and often ineffective pass rush. This would be necessary to become the team coach Staley envisioned when he took over the Los Angeles Chargers. With the acquisition of the fifth pick in the 2014 NFL draft Khalil Mack, they have seemingly improved their rush defense and pass rush with this one move.

“We felt this was a smart deal; you’re trading for one of the best players in the game.” Staley of the Chargers acquiring a former AP Player of the Year in Khalil Mack. Four consecutive seasons of double-digit sacks with the division rivals and then Oakland Raiders support Staley’s claim and are further evidence of Mack’s dominance.

“He was a big part of me consuming a big part of that playbook,” Mack said of why he thought he and Staley hit it off right away after being traded mid-season to the Bears in 2018. Mack credits Staley, then outside linebacker coach, for getting him up to speed once he got traded to the Bears. 

“I feel like we talked a lot of ball, which is why I can say I know who he is as a person and as a coach. He listened. I feel like it was a mix of him and [former Bears Defensive Coordinator] Vic [Fangio]. At the time, they listened to the input of the players and understand what positions to put them in and how to make them their best self throughout the game.” Mack stated about Staley’s willingness to listen to players and include their input when developing game plans.

“I want to be able to change the game, whether it’s getting turnovers, which I feel like I have a knack for. I just want to be destructive in any way possible.” Mack made it clear what his intentions were when asked about which metrics he uses to grade himself.  

The ‘ole saying goes, ‘offense wins games, and defense wins championships!’ The Chargers have certainly upgraded the defense with this one move. Pairing a former 2016 Defensive Player of the Year with the 2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year in Joey Bosa should be a frightening duo for opponents to plan for.

The mere presence of the six-time Pro Bowler makes the Chargers defense more formidable. The trade cost the Chargers a nominal 2nd round-pick in this year’s draft and a 6th round-pick in the 2023 draft. Since 2017, the Chargers have 39.5 sacks from the guys lined-up opposite Joey Bosa, whereas Mack himself has 46.5 sacks during that same time. Similarly, Mack’s tackle for loss production (49.5) since 2017 isn’t that far off the pace set by two guys (63) who have filled that role previously. 

Bosa has to be excited about this trade. Though he would never admit it, he has had to essentially carry the Chargers defensive line all on his own in recent years. Widely recognized as the Charger’s toughest player to block, Bosa led the team in quarterback hurries and sacks, three of the past four seasons. Khalil Mack has 74 quarterback hurries since he played for Staley in 2018, versus the 50 quarterback hurries the Chargers Edge rushers totaled playing opposite of Joey Bosa.   

Kindly share your thoughts on the Chargers acquisition of edge rusher Khalil Mack. His presence alone makes them a better defense, not to mention the pressure he’ll take off fellow edge rusher Joey Bosa. Though the NFL off-season has just begun, the Chargers have significantly improved their team with this trade. You can reach out to me using Twitter @whatsgoodnsport or send me an email at voiceofthefans@outlook.com. I’d also encourage you to forward any suggestions on what topics or angles about this new version of the Los Angeles Chargers you would like to read about this season.

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