Week 4 will be the perfect litmus test for Chargers' running backs

Jacksonville Jaguars v Los Angeles Chargers
Jacksonville Jaguars v Los Angeles Chargers / Sean M. Haffey/GettyImages

The LA Chargers are off to a disappointing start to the 2022 season in which nearly everything has gone poorly. Not only are the Bolts 1-2 with heartbreaking losses to the Kansas City Chiefs and Jacksonville Jaguars but the team has suffered even bigger losses with the talent on the field.

Rashawn Slater and Jalen Guyton are out for the year while Joey Bosa is going to be out for most of the season. Justin Herbert is dealing with fractured rib cartilage that has hindered his play and the duo of J.C. Jackson and Keenan Allen have not played much and may continue not playing much. That is only scratching the surface.

During all of this we have also seen the Chargers become one of the worst rushing teams in the entire league. While running back depth was always an issue, nobody expected things to be this bad as Austin Ekeler may have fallen off significantly from where he was last season.

Los Angeles ranks dead last in both rushing yards and rushing yards per attempt this season. It has hindered the offense and has restricted the team's ability to maintain time of possession or protect a lead. If this continues, the Bolts' ceiling is far lower than anyone could have expected.

The Houston Texans will provide a key litmus test for the LA Chargers in Week 4.

The good news for the Chargers is that they are coming up against one of the worst rushing defenses in the entire league. Houston was down there with the Chargers last season as one of the worst rushing teams and that trend has continued into 2022.

Houston has allowed the most rushing yards and most yards per attempt of any team in the league this season. Running backs have averaged an incredible 5.6 yards per attempt against the Texans, which is over double what the Chargers have averaged on runs thus far.

Granted, Houston has played some pretty decent running backs. Jonathan Taylor sliced Houston in Week 1, JaVonte Williams and Melvin Gordon provided the damage in Week 2 and Khalil Herbert (should have been a Charger!) had a big game against Houston in Week 3.

The Chargers do not need to keep up with the numbers that have already been produced against Houston for it to be a successful day. However, they need to have some success and we need to actually see a spark out of this running back room.

MUST-READ: Is SoFi Stadium to blame for Chargers injuries?

If the Bolts come out and are complete flops against this rushing defense then that shows that this is undeniably a bad running back room and that Ekeler likely regressed. If that happens, it is hard to see how the Chargers justify not playing their fourth-round running back that they just took in the 2022 NFL Draft.