The AFC West was billed as the greatest division in football all offseason. The Kansas City Chiefs were already atop the mountain and to catch up, the rest of the AFC West made bold move after bold move. Now, a quarter through the 2022 season, it is clear that the LA Chargers won the offseason AFC West arms race.
The additions the Chargers made this past offseason have not even been perfect. J.C. Jackson suffered an ankle injury that resulted in him missing time and hindered his play early on. The new-look run defense hasn't looked great on the surface but anyone watching the games knows this is a much better run defense.
But then you have additions like Khalil Mack, Bryce Callahan, Gerald Everett and DeAndre Carter. Mack has played at an elite level thus far and essentially won the Chargers the game in Week 1. Bryce Callahan has arguably been the best slot corner in the league this season. Gerald Everett and DeAndre Carter have become instrumental parts of the offense, more so Everett than Carter.
The LA Chargers have far more to show in the AFC West arms race than their division foes.
Since it is topical with him having yet another bad game on primetime, we can start with the Denver Broncos. Denver made two big acquisitions this offseason that were touted Broncos fans as being the moves to push them over the top.
The first was obviously Wilson, who the team signed to a massive five-year, $245 million contract extension before he even played a game in Denver. Before the season we here at Bolt Beat pointed out that Wilson has not been good in his last year and a half and that smaller, mobile quarterbacks typically don't age well in their mid-30s.
And what has happened? Wilson had been bad. He is not bottom-of-the-league bad, but has he even been a top 10 quarterback? Top 15? Probably not. If Derek Carr was having the same season as last year then Wilson would be the worst quarterback in the division.
Randy Gregory has played well for Denver, to be fair, but he is going to miss multiple weeks with a knee injury.
Las Vegas also made two big additions that have not quite panned out yet this season. Defensively, the team added pass-rusher Chandler Jones and at the time, like Wilson, we here at Bolt Beat broke down why Jones was nothing to worry about for the Chargers. At this point in his career, his name is far more impactful than his play.
And what has happened? Jones is without a sack in four games to start the season with a grand total of just eight pressures (per Pro Football Focus). For comparison's sake, Khalil Mack has nearly doubled Jones' pressure total at 15.
Davante Adams has been fine, but he has not been this game-breaker that the Raiders were pushing him to be. Adams has had two big games and two relatively quiet games but overall, Vegas' offense doesn't look any better than it did last year with Adams at receiver.
The Chiefs did not participate as much in this arms race as they had limited resources and were already at the top. However, the receivers they brought in to replace Tyreek Hill have not been all that special. Juju Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valdes-Scantling have a combined 392 yards with zero touchdowns. Tyreek Hill has 477 yards with two touchdowns alone.
Justin Reid, who was brought in to replace Tyrann Mathieu, has a 66.3 PFF grade this season. Mathieu has a 79.4 grade.