We are so close to the start of the 2022 NFL season and there is a lot of excitement brewing around the LA Chargers. Tom Telesco just provided perhaps the biggest offseason in team history as the Bolts should be considered legitimate Super Bowl contenders with the talent on the roster.
There is no better way to open up this season than with a Week 18 rematch against the Las Vegas Raiders. Like the rest of the AFC West, the Raiders have made some big additions in the likes of Davante Adams and Chandler Jones.
As we saw in Week 18 last season, every single game matters in the end and the Chargers jumping out to a 1-0 record against their divisional rivals is huge. That got a bit harder this week when it was announced that J.C. Jackson had ankle surgery and will miss 2-4 weeks of action, which could keep him out against the Raiders.
To counteract that big injury on the defensive side of the ball the Raiders are dealing with a big injury of their own on the offensive side of the ball. Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller has missed most of Raiders' training camp, with some speculating that it could be contract-related while Adam Schefter previously reported that it was a non-serious hamstring issue.
Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels is not concerned about Waller, but did not commit to Waller playing in Week 1 against the Bolts.
The LA Chargers' lives are made a lot easier if Darren Waller does not play in Week 1.
While they might not have the elite quarterback, it is impossible to discount the weapons that the Las Vegas Raiders have to throw the ball to. Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller make up one of the best trio of pass-catchers in the entire league.
With J.C. Jackson in the game, the Chargers could have managed to at least keep Adams at bay. However, with Jackson out, Adams is a candidate to have a massive game against the Bolts. Los Angeles should probably put Michael Davis on Adams because of his size and speed and give him a lot of help in coverages.
More of that help can now come with the potential absence of Waller. If Waller indeed does not play this game then that opens up Derwin James, who likely would be defending Waller for most of the game. Without Waller, James can move more freely around the defense and can help on both Adams and Renfrow in certain packages.
James is great no matter what the responsibility is but when there is no elite tight end on the other side to defend things open up and allow him to move around. That alone can help negate the potential absence of Jackson after his ankle surgery.
We still have a few weeks until the Chargers and Raiders kick-off and who knows, perhaps both Jackson and Waller end up playing in this game after all.