The 2023 season has not gotten off to the kind of start that the LA Chargers were hoping for. The Bolts are 0-2 on the young season and have allowed 63 points, which is the third-most in the entire NFL.
Having an 0-2 record is typically a death sentence for a team that is hoping to make the playoffs. However, with several other teams getting off to slow starts in the AFC there is hope that the Chargers could rally and still make noise in January.
If that is the case then the Chargers are going to have to follow the blueprint of a previous Chargers team that made the playoffs. The defense probably is not going to fix itself overnight, so the team has to lean into a comparison that makes all the sense in the world.
The 2023 Chargers might have to embrace being the 2008 Chargers again
Fifteen years after the Chargers made the playoffs with an 8-8 record the Bolts may have to embrace a similar path and hope to get it with a 9-8 record. At this point in time, that feels like the best-case scenario as reaching 10 wins after an 0-2 start is a very hard task.
The '08 Chargers and '23 Chargers have very similar starts to the season. Both teams started 0-2 and allowed a boatload of points; the 2008 Chargers are one of only four teams in franchise history that allowed more points in the first two weeks than the 2023 Chargers.
The losses were fairly similar as well. Norv Turner's Chargers lost 24 to 26 against the Carolina Panthers in Week 1 and 38-39 against the Denver Broncos in Week 2. Carolina beat the Chargers on the final play of regulation in Week 1.
Week 2 was the infamous Broncos two-point conversion that ended in controversy. Before Denver's touchdown, Jay Cutler fumbled the ball but because of an errant whistle, the Chargers didn't get the ball. The fumble call stood via review but even though the Chargers made a clear recovery, the referees stated that because they blew the whistle a second before the recovery was made it didn't count and it was still Denver's ball.
Two heartbreaking losses that were somehow even more heartbreaking than the start of the 2023 season. The 2008 team finally got in the win column in Week 3 but it was an offensive battle that resulted in a 48-29 finale. In Week 3 of 2023, the Chargers face another great offense with a bad defense in the Minnesota Vikings. The outcome and final score could be similar.
Like the 2023 Chargers, the 2008 Chargers then took on the Raiders in Week 4 and were able to beat them to move to 2-2. This year's Chargers are hoping to do the same to head into an early bye week with a .500 record.
The 2008 Chargers were 4-8 and rallied to win the last four games of the season to make the playoffs. With an extremely tough schedule in 2023, it may take a similar late-season rally for the Chargers to make the playoffs in 2023. Hopefully for the sake of the fans it is not as dramatic but if the team makes the playoffs that is what it will likely take.
When the dust settled on the 2008 season, the Chargers ranked second in points for and 15th in points against (27.1 points per game). The 2023 Chargers are hoping to salvage the defense to finish around the median like the 2008 Chargers with the hope that a strong offense can carry the load.
More importantly, the 2008 Chargers continued to play close games after the first two weeks of the season. Seven of the team's eight losses were by one possession and were by a combined 34 points (4.25 points per game). After losing the first two games by a combined five points, the 2023 Chargers could be in for a very similar season.