Bosa, Mack look to continue building on-field bond

Chargers pass rushing duo of Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa expect big things from each other in 2023.

COSTA MESA, Calif. — After the disappointing playoff loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars, Khalil Mack recalled that he and Joey Bosa turned to each other and said, “Man, just give me one more.”

The Chargers had just blown a 27-0 lead to the Jaguars and bounced out of the playoffs. It is not something either player has thought about much since the game ended and they flew home.

“Like I said, I really haven’t thought about it that much,” Bosa explained. “If you’re not motivated to win and to play, then this is the wrong job for you. If you need to be digging into some dark past to motivate you for tomorrow, then you’re already lost, I think.” 

It happened over four months ago, and while it was disappointing, the pass-rushing duo is looking toward the 2023 season.

“It’s one of those things,” Mack said. “Me and Joey [Bosa] were talking about it; it was like a bad dream, like a nightmare. Waking up from it and just putting in the work to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Mack stayed in Los Angeles during the offseason working with his pilates instructor and working out at the team’s facility in Costa Mesa.

Bosa went back to Florida to train like he does every offseason. He works out with his brother and San Francisco 49ers pass rusher Nick.

“It’s weird to be feeling in shape at this point of the year, but I’m feeling really good,” Bosa said.

Both players are in a good place physically, unlike in years past. Mack was coming off foot surgery last off-season when the team traded for him, so it took him a while to be a full go.

Bosa suffered a groin injury requiring surgery during the NFL season in week three. It helped heal some of the discomforts he felt.

“We both have our weight up again,” Bosa said. “I think we’re both in good shape. Khalil and I, off the field, I think we’ve grown close just in the short amount of time that we’ve been together. I’m excited to keep it going.”

The Chargers started OTAs on Monday, and while they are voluntary, usually, Bosa is still working out in Florida. This year he came in on day one.

“I’d say he’s definitely part of the reason that I came out early,” Bosa said. “I feel obligated to do my stuff when I have him watching me, have him counting on me. It’s nice to have that.”

Mack was the reason why Bosa wanted to come in early.

“It’s always good when you have Joey B out there, man,” Mack said. “A lot of knowledge. A good friend, a good dude to have around in the locker room and the meeting room.”

They only played in six games together last season. Six. In their first game against the Raiders, they showed what they could potentially be by accumulating four sacks between them.

They feel like they haven’t scratched the surface.

“Not even close,” Mack said. “I think that it was three games in last year [when Bosa was injured], Week 3. Just can’t wait to get out there with this guy. Not talk too much, but get to work.”

Mack was able to hold it down without Bosa, but it wasn’t the same. At times, the former all-pro faced tripled teams by the opposing offensive lines. 

The depth behind them wasn’t what the team had hoped for going into the season. 

“Those two guys playing together are special tandem,” Chargers head coach Brandon Staley said. “It’s rare that you can find two players of that caliber that you can get together.”

The Chargers will be counting on a healthy pass-rushing duo this season, especially with the long list of talented quarterbacks they face.

In such a tough conference, both will need to generate a pass rush and disrupt opposing offenses. 

“I think we complement each other well,” Bosa said. “Once we get more reps and more time together, it’ll start being non-verbal communication out there. We’ll really get a feel for each other, and when a guy is going high, a guy is going low. I think we have the opportunity to really get to a special spot between us two.”