Joey Bosa was worth the wait

Jake Roth/Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

You have to wonder if the San Diego Chargers would have lost three of their first four games this season if Joey Bosa was around.

Bosa, the defensive end and No. 3 overall pick in this year’s NFL Draft, has added a new layer to a Chargers’ defense that was already good before his arrival. The addition of a second excellent pass rusher to go with Melvin Ingram has made the San Diego defense dynamic and formidable in an AFC West that is still available for the Chargers to win.

Bosa didn’t play every snap Thursday night, but when he was on the field, you knew it — he found himself in Broncos quarterback Trevor Siemian’s lap often Thursday in the Chargers’ 21-13 win. The Broncos were able to muster only 129 yards in the first three quarters of Thursday night’s game (before the Chargers’ trademark fourth-quarter collapse engaged), and Bosa deserves the lion’s share of the credit for that stinginess.

Bosa played 55 of 73 possible snaps Thursday night — he had one quarterback hit, five hurries, and a stop, according to Pro Football Focus. When he wasn’t making Siemian’s life hell directly, he was drawing attention away from Ingram and outstanding rookie pass-rushing linebacker Jatavis Brown, who found themselves in the backfield often.

It was another sterling performance for Bosa, following an incredible debut last week at Oakland, where Bosa took only 27 snaps but had two sacks, a hit, and four hurries — he was by far the most productive performer for the Chargers in the contest.

Bosa is wasting no time in establishing himself as an elite pass rusher in this league.

It makes you wonder why it took so long to get him on the field.

The reason Bosa missed the first four games of the year was a hamstring injury, and while no one can say if that injury was in any way related to his 31-day holdout, which caused him to miss all of training camp, it’s hard to totally discount a young player overextending himself in an effort to make up for lost time.

Why that time was lost is a moot point — Bosa is under contract and is playing now.

You can’t get that training camp back.

You can’t get the first four games of the season back.

But how much would the Chargers pay to get that time back? One has to imagine it’s more than the relative pennies they saved in the hardline and one-sided mud-slinging negotiations with the kid who just turned 21 in July.

Bosa is the real deal — he might be the Defensive Rookie of the Year at the end of the season, despite missing those four games — and with him on the field, the Chargers’ defense looks playoff-worthy.

Can the Chargers make the playoffs? They’re not out of it yet. But would their margin be so fine if Bosa was playing from day one?