It’s that time of the year; fans like myself are anxiously awaiting the beginning of another football season. Our San Diego Chargers have had the talent to compete for numerous Lombardi trophies yet continue to disappoint us. Dating back to the LaDainian Tomlinson days where we weren’t able to get over the AFC championship hump, in recent years the bolts have failed to even make the playoffs. One consistent problem holding San Diego back is…DEFENSE!
In free agency and throughout the NFL draft the Chargers have made significant strides to improve upon their mediocre defense. The Bolts signed veteran linebacker Jarret Johnson, re-signed Luis Castillo (for relatively cheap) while also spending their first three draft picks on the defensive side of the ball.
Chargers first round pick Melvin Ingram, linebacker out of South Carolina, will make an immediate impact on this defense. Ingram provides San Diego with an elite pass rusher. The Chargers haven’t had such an intimidating defensive player since Sean Lights Out Merriman. The key problem defensively is their inability to get after opposing quarterbacks. In the 2011 season, San Diego ranked 24th in the NFL in sacks with 32. Ingram instantly adds at least six to ten sacks.
Ingram’s potential impact can’t be measured solely by his 2012 sack numbers. His aggressive mentality and relentless approach will be a nightmare for opposing offensives, while helping improve San Diego’s secondary. Cornerback Quenitn Jammer is getting older yet is still pretty effective, but his job and Antoine Cason’s will no longer be as tough.
The reigning super bowl champions, the New York Giants, had a way worse secondary than the Chargers currently have. Yet the Giants were able to mask that deficiency with the best pass rush in the NFL. I’m not saying the Bolts will now have a top pass rush in the NFL, but am saying their pass rush is improved and will be a big reason for their return to the playoffs.
However, the Chargers improvement defensively goes beyond Melvin Ingram. Jarett Johnson has been a staple of the haunted Baltimore Ravens defense and now sports powder blue. Connecticut defensive tackle Kendall Reyes was regarded as one of the best defensive line prospects heading into the draft, and now sports powder blue. Not to mention the continued development of the players on roster.
Philip Rivers and the offense will be very effective despite the departure of free agent wide receiver Vincent Jackson. Therefore, if the Chargers DEFENSE lives up to my expectations, there’s no reason why they wont make the playoffs and have a legitimate shot to give the Denver Broncos a serious run for the AFC West crown.