One of the biggest points of emphasis for the LA Chargers this offseason was rebuilding the defensive line. Brandon Staley has really focused on the trenches since being hired as the head coach and that resulted in a new-look defensive line unit for the 2022 season.
The run defense was a legitimate issue for the Bolts last season and the front office made it a point to add quality depth to the interior defensive line. Sebastian Joseph-Day and Austin Johnson are both run-stuffers who were free-agent investments by the Chargers. The team drafted Otito Ogbonnia and signed Morgan Fox for depth.
This all started with the blockbuster trade for Khalil Mack. Mack not only adds another elite pass-rusher opposite of Joey Bosa but brings in quality run defense on the edge as well. The team really focused on improving this defensive line and people are taking notice.
The LA Chargers defensive line was ranked among the best of the best in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus recently ranked all 32 defensive lines in the NFL heading into the 2022 season and Charger fans have to love where their team ended up in the final rankings. While the Bolts did not get put into the elite tier of defensive lines, they were one notch below that.
PFF gives the Chargers the seventh-ranked defensive line in the sport. The Bolts are the best team ranked in tier 2, which is considered "strong with a weak point or two". That is a fair assessment of the Chargers' defensive line as the third interior spot is really up for grabs. If someone steps up then the Chargers could step up into tier 1. If it is just Jerry Tillery giving his usual production then the Bolts will stay in tier 2.
The elite tier of defensive lines includes the LA Rams, Washington Commanders, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. While some of those teams are questionable, the teams in that elite tier that also have a great quarterback are considered legitimate Super Bowl contenders.
The Chargers also have a great quarterback and if the defensive line makes that leap into being elite then they too will be legitimate Super Bowl contenders (if they are not already). The two most important ingredients to a deep playoff run are an elite quarterback and generating a pass rush without blitzing.
The Chargers already have those ingredients heading into the 2022 season. If the defensive line is even better than expected then other teams are going to have a serious problem on their hands.