Chargers cornerbacks will have to step up after a notable trade.
The Chargers are back from the bye and prepping for a Week 6 clash with the Cowboys.
With 13 games left on the schedule, here are five questions facing the Bolts the rest of the way:
1. How do the cornerbacks perform?
This position group underwent some shuffling during the bye week.
The Chargers traded J.C. Jackson to the Patriots and added Essang Bassey to the roster. Bassey has 32 games of NFL experience (including one with the Bolts) and made four total starts for Denver.
The main focus will now be on the trio of Asante Samuel, Jr., Michael Davis and Ja’Sir Taylor, a unit that will be the starting group from here on out.
That group — and the Bolts defense as a whole — faces a host of notable quarterbacks (Dak Prescott, Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson and Jared Goff) in the next few months.
How the trio of Samuel, Davis and Taylor defend the pass could tell a big part of whether or not the Chargers are in the playoffs.
The Chargers’ 32nd-ranked pass defense needs to improve against Dallas.
Following the bye week, the Chargers will now face the Cowboys with a chance to go over .500 on the season. 3-2 would certainly feel like a step in the right direction after the team’s 0-2 start.
Winning against Dallas will not be easy, though. After a 42-10 loss to the 49ers on Sunday night, the Cowboys will be under intense pressure to get back on track offensively and defensively. Here are some players who need to perform to prevent a rebound game for Big D.
CB Michael Davis
The story that dominated Chargers headlines during the bye was cornerback J.C. Jackson being traded to the Patriots. With that trade completed, Davis and Asante Samuel Jr. are officially locked in as the outside corners for the rest of the year. Unlike Weeks 1 and 2, there is no more three-man rotation to deal with on the outside.
That’s why there’s even more pressure on him to perform. To this point, the former BYU product has struggled. Davis has allowed 286 receiving yards and a 71% completion percentage when targeted, both on pace to shatter records for a single season in his career. The most penalties he has given up in a season is six. He’s already at five penalties committed in 2023.
Quarterbacks are throwing for a 138.8 passer rating on Davis targets. The sledding does not get any easier for this defense with Dak Prescott and Patrick Mahomes coming up in their next games. As he nurses an ankle injury, Davis will need to find a way to get back to his form from the end of the 2022 season in order to stabilize the secondary.
EDGE Khalil Mack
Mack had his best game as a Charger which earned him a 92.3 PFF grade against the Raiders. A six-sack, nine-pressure game was an effort that was much needed after an underwhelming first three weeks of the season.
Mack will need to have premium performances against good offensive lines as well, and that starts with Dallas. The former Bear is also increasingly more important with how banged up Joey Bosa is. It’s likely that Bosa will be able to return against Dallas in Week 5, but who knows how many snaps he’ll be able to play after dealing with nagging toe and hamstring injuries.
Mack, Tuli Tuipulotu, and Bosa continuing to rack up pressures would put the Chargers’ in a really solid position with their EDGE room. But Mack regressing a bit to his average level in his LA career would be tough considering the state of the secondary behind him.
Chargers open as 2.5-point underdogs against the Cowboys - Kyle DeDiminicantanio, Bolts from the Blue
For the second time in three weeks, a familiar face squares off against his former team in the Cowboys.
Kellen Moore will get his first crack at his old team when the Cowboys come to SoFi Stadium this week to face the Chargers on Monday Night Football. As of Monday morning, the Chargers are currently 2.5-point underdogs against Dallas with the over/under set at 47.5, per DraftKings Sportsbook.
The Chargers are coming off an early Week Five bye that was still sorely needed as many of their stars have been battling injuries from the start of the season. Austin Ekeler is finally expected to return from an ankle injury that’s kept him out of all but one game this year while Derwin James should get back on the field after a hamstring injury sidelined him during the team’s recent 24-17 win over the Raiders.
Edge rusher Joey Bosa has also been hampered by a hamstring injury that’s cost him one game and kept him on a snap count for two others.
The Cowboys are coming off a 42-10 loss to the 49ers that quarterback Dak Prescott called the “most humbling” of his career. He threw three interceptions on back-to-back-to-back drives that all but kept the Cowboys from ever putting up much of a fight.
The Cowboys are still viewed as having one of the best defenses in all of football so this is definitely not a matchup that all of a sudden got easier based on their recent outing. San Francisco has scored 30 or more points in every game this season and we know just how legitimate Kyle Shanahan and Co. are at lighting up the scoreboard.
Either way, this should be an exciting game under the lights in primetime.