The Chargers got on the board with their first win of the 2022 season by defeating the Raiders 24-19 in Week 1.
Here are five takeaways from the season opener:
Khalil Mack is healthy and dominating early
Khalil Mack's first game as a member of the Chargers showed flashes of his debut with the Bears back in 2018. He was purely disruptive, and the Raiders had no answers for slowing him down.
Mack rushed off both edges of the line of scrimmage, facing Raiders left tackle Kolton Miller and right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor. He finished the day with three sacks – with two of them coming against Miller and one through Eluemunor in which Mack walked him back into quarterback Derek Carr and brought both of them to the ground for a sack.
In addition to his multi-sack total, Mack recorded six tackles, three tackles for loss, four quarterback hits and one forced fumble. Coach Brandon Staley said after the game that the way Mack played is what he saw when he coached the All-Pro defender in Chicago.
"There’s nothing extra with Khalil Mack," Staley said. "Khalil Mack is that way all the time. This is just your first time seeing it.”
Offensive line doesn’t allow a sack
The Chargers offensive line in Week 1 featured two new starters – rookie right guard Zion Johnson and right tackle Trey Pipkins. They held the Raiders in check, not allowing a sack while facing a defensive front that includes Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones.
Pipkins allowed two quarterback pressures and Johnson was responsible for one, according to the data of Pro Football Focus. As a team, they allowed just six pressures all game – a steady performance for a group who that looks different on the right side of the offensive line than it did just a season ago.
"I thought that our O-line, Zion in his first start, just going out there against a group like that and being able to perform. Those five guys playing together, our protection plan, that was outstanding," Staley said. "Justin using his legs and the receivers and backs doing a good job of getting open. It was a tough game. It was just one of those tough NFL football games."
Justin Herbert picks up where he left off last season
Justin Herbert finished last season top three in passing yards (5,014) and touchdowns (38). And in his first game of the new season, Herbert looked dialed in, picking up where he left off last year.
Herbert completed 26 of 34 passes for 279 yards and three touchdowns. His first touchdown of the game marked the 70th of his career, becoming the fourth-fastest in NFL history to do so in just his 33rd game, per the Chargers.
Herbert completed a pass to nine different receivers, showing just how multiple the offense is, and can truly be, down the stretch of this season.
“Poise, composure, play-making, leadership, toughness, all the quarterbacking stuff that you need in a tight game," Staley said of Herbert's performance. "I think a lot of the little things that, to the casual fan, they may not notice, but being strong with the ball in the pocket when you’re playing against a rush like that. Being able to make plays with your feet. That red area third down that he made, and then had the slide, making some plays with his feet to create some space for the receivers. You know that when you play against a team like that, that you are going to have to use your legs. I thought that he did a nice job of that today.”
Three new additions find the end zone
The Chargers offense put together a productive day, but it wasn't the typical performance where Keenan Allen and Mike Williams light up the stat sheet. Instead, it was the team's newcomers who rose to the occasion.
Allen left the game in the first half following a hamstring injury and Williams hauled in just two catches for 10 yards. But the Chargers still reached 355 yards of total offense and three touchdowns – with each scoring play coming from new members of the team.
Fullback Zander Horvath, wide receiver DeAndre Carter and tight end Gerald Everett each found the end zone.
“I think a great thing we do is we’re able to shuffle guys around and play multiple positions," Herbert said. "Keenan is an incredible athlete. Definitely tough to play without him, but when you put in DeAndre Carter and you’re able to change Josh Palmer from Z to X, Mike can play all of those positions, too. Then, Gerald, you have another tight end there that can make some plays. You have guys that are interchangeable and able to step up when someone goes down.”
Early impressions of JK Scott
The Chargers were forced to punt on four occasions yesterday. JK Scott, the team's new punter brought in this offseason, showed off his big leg in his Chargers debut
Scott averaged 49 yards per punt, including one in which he downed inside the 2-yard line.
The Chargers overhauled much of their special teams group this offseason and early indications show that Scott has the capabilities to stabilize the punting operation. Staley handed out five game balls following the Week 1 win over the Raiders, and Scott was among the recipients to receive the honor.
More from Charger Report
- Chargers Offensive Line Passes First Test, Shutting Down Raiders Pass Rush in Season Opener
- Khalil Mack's Dominance in Chargers Debut Secures 24-19 Win Over Raiders
- Live In-Game Updates: Chargers vs. Raiders Week 1
- Chargers vs. Raiders Week 1 Inactives
- Pregame Report: Chargers vs. Raiders Week 1
Nick Cothrel is the publisher of Charger Report. Follow Nick on Twitter @NickCothrel for more Chargers coverage.