Chargers QB Justin Herbert and offensive grades of 2023

Now that the 2022 season is over it is time to grade the LA Chargers offensive players.

The Super Bowl is now over, with the Kansas City Chiefs becoming the champions. It is time to review how the season went for their AFC West rival Los Angeles Chargers.

On paper, the Chargers had a top-10 offense in the NFL, but they sometimes struggled to move the ball and score points. Here is the full grade for each position group:

Quarterback: B+

Justin Herbert is continuing to grow as a quarterback. This season was rough for him. He didn’t put up his typical numbers of throwing for over 30 touchdowns because of different variables. He suffered a rib injury in week two that looked like it hampered him the rest of the season. Herbert powered through it and took care of the football while leading his team to win.

Every quarterback has to go through the growing pain of possibly missing a weapon for most of the season. Keenan Allen was out for seven games, while Mike Williams missed four. Even if the numbers don’t dictate it, Herbert had a solid season that will help him in the future. The Chargers need to help Herbert by retooling this offense in 2023.

Running back: B (Austin Ekeler) D (rest of backs)

Austin Ekeler had another great year for the offense, with over 1,600 total yards and 18 touchdowns. He started the year slow but then got hot and kept it going. The rest of the running back group was pretty bad. Joshua Kelley was the only player who showed life, but even that was sporadic, especially with his injury.

The Chargers need more consistency from the position, especially late in games. They don’t have a power back that can gas the opposing team and run the clock out. Even during the home stretch of the season, Ekeler slowed down, and it is because he touches the ball over 300 times.

Wide receivers: C-

Now the grade is rough, but injuries hit the position hard. Mike Williams was 105 yards away from another 1,000-yard season but missed about six games (missed most of the KC game in Nov. and Denver game in week 18) due to an ankle injury. He also sustained a back injury against Denver in the year’s final game that didn’t allow him to go against Jacksonville in the wild-card round.

Keenan Allen missed seven games due to a hamstring injury that nagged him most of the season. He came back and was able to contribute as usual, but it seems like the combo of Allen, Williams, and Josh Palmer never really played together. Palmer had his best season, with 72 catches for 769 yards and three touchdowns. He will continue to grow. De’Andre Carter was brought in as a returner but emerged as a weapon with 538 yards and three touchdowns.

Injuries hurt this group’s production.

Tight ends: D+

The tight end position was a weak point for the offense. Gerald Everett came in as a free agent and had some decent performances, plus a career game in the playoffs against Jacksonville, but it wasn’t enough. He had 555 receiving yards and four touchdowns, but the offense needs more impact from the position, especially when it comes to blocking.

Behind Everett, there isn’t much depth at the position. Donald Parham spent most of the season dealing with numerous injuries, while Tre’ McKitty only had 72 receiving yards. The offense needs more from this position, expect it to be addressed during the draft.

Offensive line: C

The offensive line went through the injury bug at multiple points of the season. They lost left tackle Rashawn Slater to a biceps injury toward the end of week three and sat out the rest of the season. Jamaree Salyer replaced him and did a serviceable job while giving up less than a handful of sacks. The sixth-rounder showed a lot of promise and should be in line for s starting position in 2023.

Matt Feiler had a rough season in both the run and pass game. Center Corey Linsley had another great season but missed some games early due to injury. Rookie Zion Johnson had a promising first year, even though he had his ups and downs. Right tackle Trey Pipkins dealt with an MCL injury but finally showed glimpses of being a solid player.

The offensive line struggled in opening lanes for the running backs and, toward the back end of the season, let Herbert take some hits. Herbert was sacked 38 times last season, tied for seventh most in the NFL.

Coaching: D-

There is a reason why offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi was fired. The offense became stagnant and predictable. Change was needed, especially when they have a quarterback with the arm of Justin Herbert. This offense needs to be a well-oiled machine.

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