The Los Angeles Chargers are off to an excellent start in the 2021 season in their first year under new head coach Brandon Staley. The Chargers beat the Washington Football Team and lost a heartbreaker against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 2.
After that, they shocked everybody and defeated Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead, cementing their stance as a legitimate threat to the back-to-back AFC Champions. However, the Chargers have a massive injury blow after Kenneth Murray landed on injured reserve.
The Chargers have been snake-bitten by injuries over the years, and the latest trend in 2021 has not slowed down for them, either. With the latest injury to Murray, this puts more pressure on the shoulders of Derwin James and Joey Bosa.
Yet another injury to the Chargers, this time to Kenneth Murray
The Chargers also placed defensive tackle Justin Jones on IR as well, but the loss of Murray is more crucial than the absence of Jones. The Chargers traded up in the 2020 NFL Draft to select Murray with the 23rd overall selection out of Oklahoma.
Murray played in every single game in his rookie year and picked it up toward the end of the season. With the hiring of Staley, Murray was one player slated to take a massive jump with the former LA Rams defensive coordinator calling the plays.
In Murray’s absence, Kyzir White and Drue Tranquill are in line for more work right away, although there could be some meaningful reps for surprising rookie Nick Niemann as well.
More strain on James and Bosa
The absence of Murray is a big one and seemingly puts more pressure on both of the Chargers defensive stars. James made his return after missing the entire 2020 season with a torn meniscus, and Bosa is consistently among the league’s best pass rushers.
Early on, the Chargers’ defense has been underwhelming. After Gus Bradley was let go and moved on to the Las Vegas Raiders, there were high hopes in LA with Staley calling the plays after leading the Rams to the top defense in the NFL during the 2020 season.
The Chargers haven’t had an easy start to the year with their schedule, and the AFC West is one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. With the loss of Murray, Bosa and James will need to handle more on defense.
James has always been a hybrid type of player who can line up anywhere, and Staley will use the talented first-round pick to his disposal. Upfront, Bosa is as dominant as any edge rusher in the league and is an absolute mismatch.
While the loss of Murray will be tough to overcome, it helps that the Chargers have Pro Bowl-type talent they can rely on to get the job done.
The road ahead for the Chargers
The absence of Murray will be a tough one, but the Chargers have all the tools, and the hope is he can return after three weeks, the minimum he has to be on the IR.
After facing the Raiders on Monday night, the Chargers will have a tough matchup with the Cleveland Browns and the Baltimore Ravens before their bye week, and there is a chance that Murray is ready to roll by the end of their bye week.
The big victory over the Chiefs has everybody buzzing in LA, and now is the time for Bosa and James to step up even more as the leaders of this defense and prove they can help elevate this team to the next level.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference