After defeating the Chicago Bears comfortably on Sunday Night Football, the LA Chargers have another primetime game in Week 9 as the team is on the road to take on the New York Jets on Monday Night Football.
While we are only halfway through the 2023 NFL season, this is a must-win game for the Bolts. A win would bring the team back to .500 while also creating a very impactful tiebreaker over the Jets. It could truly be the launching point to a playoff run for the Chargers.
Meanwhile, a loss would essentially create a hole that is too big to climb out of. A 3-5 record without the tiebreaker to the Jets is a horrible spot to be in, especially with the Detroit Lions on the schedule next week for the Chargers.
On paper, this should have been an easy win for the Chargers with Zach Wilson being forced to start in place of Aaron Rodgers. But it won't be an easy win for the Chargers. This is going to be one of the toughest games of the year, in large part because of what Robert Saleh has done to this team.
The Jets are everything Brandon Staley wanted the Chargers to be on defense
New York has arguably the best defense in the entire league heading into Week 9. No team has scored offensive touchdowns on them this season and they have played a murderer's row of quarterbacks. Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen and Jalen Hurts have all fallen victim to this ruthless Jets defense.
This is a testament to Saleh, who might not be a perfect head coach but has created a defense to highlight the talent on that side of the ball and bring the best out of them. The former San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator was hired the same year that Staley was hired and was even interviewed by the Chargers twice.
The offensive side of the ball has obviously been a struggle for Saleh but he did not get the luxury of adopting the offensive players that Staley got when he took over. That was supposed to be fixed with Rodgers playing this season, but we all know what happened there.
It brings up an interesting what-if scenario, though. What if the Chargers hired Saleh instead of Staley? Would Saleh have cracked the defensive code in LA and given the Chargers a top defense to go along with Justin Herbert? If so, the Chargers would be Super Bowl favorites this season.
At the very least, based on what he has done in New York, it is safe to say that Saleh would have brought more out of the Chargers defense than Staley has thus far. Perhaps this can be extra motivation for Staley, who desperately needs this win to keep the season on track.