1 bold prediction for every Chargers positional unit: Offense
The Chargers are just days away from kicking off the 2022 regular season. After some roster reconstruction, the team is equipped with plenty of talent on both sides of the ball.
How will the positional groups shape up? Let’s take a crack at making a bold prediction for each one, starting with the quarterback room.
Justin Herbert leads the NFL in passing yards
Last season, Herbert finished second in passing yards behind Tom Brady with 5,014. Herbert enters his third season, having plenty of chemistry with wide receivers Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Josh Palmer. In addition, he will have one of the best receiving running backs in Austin Ekeler and a yards-after-the-catch weapon in Gerald Everett at his disposal. As a result, the Chargers will continue to put the ball in the hands of Herbert, giving him plenty of opportunities to load up this stat.
Austin Ekeler leads the NFL in touchdowns
Ekeler was a key piece of Joe Lombardi’s offense in 2021, contributing heavily as both a ball carrier and pass catcher. He set career-highs in rushing yards (911), all-purpose yards (1,558), rushing touchdowns (12) and tied a career-high in receiving touchdowns (eight). Ekeler tied Colts RB Jonathan Taylor for the most touchdowns scored (20) overall last season. Even with the arrival of Sony Michel, it shouldn’t take away from Ekeler’s red zone opportunities that much. In 2021, Ekeler scored 12 times on his 46 red zone attempts.
Mike Williams leads wideouts in receiving yards and touchdowns
Williams is coming off his most productive season to date, as he set career highs with 76 receptions and 1,146 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches (both team-highs among receivers) in 2021. A large part of his breakout year was his new role under Lombardi. Not only was he a deep-field 50-50-ball threat, like how he was strictly used early in his career, but as the ‘X’ receiver, Williams attacked in the short and intermediate areas of the field and ran various routes. With Allen, Palmer and Everett to be accounted for, Williams should not draw blanketed coverage. Ultimately, I expect Williams to push his overall stats higher in 2022. 80 catches for over 1,200 yards with double-digit scores.
Donald Parham outproduces Gerald Everett
Parham made strides in his second season with the Chargers. He finished with 20 receptions on 27 targets for 190 yards and three touchdowns in 14 games before his year ended when he suffered a devastating concussion in Week 15 against the Chiefs. In training camp, he looked like one of the best pass-catchers before hurting his hamstring. Even though Everett is the top tight end, I expect the offense to utilize Parham’s elite physical traits and movement skills often, whether up the seams or in the red zone.
Rashawn Slater allows no more than two sacks
Making the smooth transition from college to the pro level at the tackle position in Year 1 is not an easy task by any means. Very few can maintain the high level of play against NFL pass rushers right out the gate, but Slater defied the odds in his rookie season, garnering second-team All-Pro. Slater’s light feet, balance and technically refined and heavy hands showed to be elite enough to slow the cream of the crop of edge defenders, and I expect that to be no different in his sophomore season.