October 7, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees (9) is sacked by San Diego Chargers defensive end Corey Liuget (94) during their game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook - USA TODAY Sports

Getting Sacks From All Sides

Recently, there has been a lot of excitement from fans over Dwight “spin-move” Freeney signing with the San Diego Chargers. Freeney is a BIG upgrade to a unit that was set to roll into the 2013 season with Larry English at the starting OLB position. The Chargers fanbase is, most definitely, hoping that English can be the first round talent that he was drafted to be. However, it was clear to TT, and just about everybody out there, that English comes with a great deal of injury concerns, and has not been able to strut his stuff on the field for a number of reasons. English will be given the opportunity to show what he’s got this year, even with the arrival of Dwight Freeney. He is still young enough to be the future of this Chargers pass rushing crew, along with Melvin Ingram. He just needs to show that these last few years have been a string of bad luck. Hopefully, with new strength & conditioning, and a pro-bowl caliber veteran like Freeney to learn from, English can finally make that jump to starting NFL pass rusher. This will probably be his last chance to prove this.. especially with a slew of newly acquired young talent being drafted behind him this year. The competition will be fierce, to say the least.

In this article, I wanted to take a look at the other players along the line, that could have a more explosive year. Players that have shown promise, and/or come on strong recently. These will be the guys that get sacks when the outside is being tied up. Guys who will be coming through the middle, the right, the left, or whatever other direction. These players won’t rack up the sacks that the OLB’s will, but they can overpower guys straight up, or take advantage of the situation when Freeney gets double-teamed (which he most certainly will). Let’s begin.

Cam Thomas: I put Cam first, because a lot of people were expecting to see a starting caliber nose tackle taken in the first few rounds of the draft. The fact that Tom Telesco didn’t draft one, until the undrafted free agents rolled out, was a HUGE vote of confidence in Cam’s direction. It also means that Pagano must have some faith that Thomas can be the starter. He has LARGE competition to fend off, with Geathers & Jerideau, so he will have to prove that experience will prevail over size. Cam hasn’t started in many games, but when he has, he shows the ability to get after the quarterback, and introduce them to the turf! Playing behind Aubrayo Franklin in 2012, he didn’t get much opportunity to register even one sack. However, the year before he posted 4 sacks, and two in 2010. So, the potential is there. I am looking for big things from this front 3 this year, and Cam has some pretty tough hombres lining up next to him, who aren’t too shabby themselves. With his contract being up in 2014, he has an opportunity to secure his spot on this team for years to come. He just needs to play well.

Corey Liuget: After having a disappointing rookie season, Corey Liuget came on like gangbusters in 2012! He was getting some pretty nice sacks out there, against tough competition. He made his presence known on the field, and had a big impact, while posting seven sacks! Along with Drew Brees (picture posted above), Liuget has added Joe Flacco, Andy Dalton, Ben Roethlisberger, and Brandon Weeden to his QB sack list. That’s the entire AFC North, which is one of the NFL’s best divisions, and known for keeping their QB’s upright! We may not have won 3 out of 4 of those games, but Liuget was definitely making an effort to tip the scales in our direction. He even had TWO QB take-downs in that sack-fest against the Jets! He is certainly showing that picking him up in the first round back in 2011, wasn’t another AJ mistake. I am looking forward to a big year from him.

Kendall Reyes: A second round draft pick in the 2012 draft, Kendal Reyes had 5.5 sacks in his debut. When he was on the field, he could often be seen in the backfield making big plays, stuffing runs, disrupting the QB, and generally making things tough for the opposing team. He had 2 sacks in our final game with Denver, and was beasting out even more than Liuget was against the Jets with a whopping 3.5 sacks! Not bad at all, for his rookie season. Despite the excitement surrounding first round pick Melvin Ingram, Reyes was the most effective player from his draft class. This year, he will be the uncontested starting DE (in my opinion), as Tom Telesco moves forward with his “youth movement”. Here’s to an even better sophomore campaign!

Jarret Johnson: Yes, I said Jarret Johnson. I find it odd that an outside linebacker would even be on this list… yet, here he is. Not that anyone expected Double J to be heading up the sack list.. but, 1.5 sacks is pretty bad.. even for a run-stuffer like Johnson. Agreed, he was mostly on the field during run plays, but it would be REALLY nice to see a little bit more production out of him in that area. This team is already thin at the OLB position, and are going to need all the help they can, to get the sack numbers up. For the money we are paying him, and the fact that he is a starter, I would like to see him somewhere around the 3 to 4 sack range this year…. in addition to the run support numbers he puts up. Tom Telesco & Mike McCoy are most certainly going to be keeping an eye on this stat. Sack stats can often be overrated… but 1.5 sacks? Seriously? You could accidentally get 1.5 sacks, just by being pushed on top of the QB! My grandma could put those numbers up! Even Eric Weddle had one sack, and he is nowhere near as close to the QB as JJ is. Hopefully, he can apply a lot more pressure than that in 2013. Otherwise… we need to move on. Sorry.

So, there are my thoughts on where who I would like to see make QB’s run for their lives, besides the obvious pass rushers. I didn’t cover the new guys, as we haven’t even seen a pad practice, or a preseason game yet. Maybe I will write that article a little later on. What do you think? Which of these players do you think will have good performances in 2013? Are there other players you expect to see get after the quarterback more? Please share your thoughts in the comment section.

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Tags: Cam Thomas Corey Liuget Dwight Freeney Eric Weddle Jarret Johnson Kendall Reyes Larry English

  • Thomas Powell

    You do realize that Pagano schemes is for the NT to hold the line more than rush right?smh

    • Capt. Obvious

      Welcome to a fuckin 3-4, point of a NT…..

    • Nick in PB

      That’s so true, but on obvious passing downs, unless it’s a stunt, he can attack the QB.

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        Exactly, Nick.

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      Yes I do. The point of my article is that the OLB unit is thin, and everyone will have an opportunity to get in on the action, including Cam. Will Cam be the sack leader, or asked pin his ears back and rush the QB? Obviously not. Has he had sacks in the past, without even being the starter? Yes he has. 2 in 2010, and 4 in 2011. We will see hybrids, and different looks on defense. Also, if the pocket collapses, and the QB is moving torward him, Cam isn’t just going to stand there. He will sack him. Or, if the play breaks down, and the QB starts running, and Cam is there, I expect he will give chase.. not just watch him escape. Even if he got 2 sacks, that will help the team. Sacks are always a committee type of thing at the end of the day. Aubrayo didn’t get any at the position last year, but in 10 years he’s only had 4, and his last one was in 2009. Cam has had two more than him in 3 years. He has already shown he can get 4 in one year. Not bad.

  • MC Boltman

    I´ve to admit I´m not sold on Cam Thomas. I´m not too sure if he has already what it takes to start games week in and week out. But I do believe that our coaches will get the best out of him. And I think Geathers will make the final roster and will see significant playtime too. But I definitely expect big numbers from Liuget and Reyes. They will face enough 1on1´s while Freeney will get doubled teamed most of the time.I´m confident #boltup

    • tubbs45

      I’m not sold as a sack leader, but getting double teams and clogging up the running lanes he can do it won’t surprise me I’d Jerideau or geathers make it. I’m with you on Reyes and Liuget, monster seasons!

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        Cam will not be a sack leader, by any means. He just has potential to get some. I think he has as much chance to start, as the guys coming up behind him. He knows Pag’s system better, and has more NFL experience. Next year is another story.. lol.

      • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

        Take a good look at our boys.. don’t it make ya feel proud?

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      I am not going to make any predictions, but I was thinking 2 or 3 sacks for Cam would be spectacular… 4 would be above average, and tie his career best. If he starts, those numbers could help him keep his job.. or find another one. Depending on how well Geathers, or even Jerideau play.

  • Cgoodness13

    Anyone else think freeney should have put up way bigger numbers last season? look who was the colts D-coordinator (that dude we canned for pagano)!!! Good lord our D was dreadful under him. Freeney should do way better under pagano just like the rest of our D did.

    • boltingindiego

      i can see that because we have a better d line than the colts had last year. more one on ones for free. plus hopefully hes healthier this year too.

    • Ioane

      Not to mention it was a new system for them and they really didn’t have the defensive front to make the 34 succeed. With our DL, Freeney should be able to go after QB’s.

      I vote Freeney will have the most sacks.

  • Blue&gold_blood

    Not to be negative , but stuff like this doesn’t pump me up no more. I just wait and see what happens , tired of being disappointed . I remember when we lost Vjackson and we got royal and meachem. Everyone was edited , talking , saying that meachem and royal was a better plan and let going Vjackson was good blah blah blah, that A.J. Got his mojo back. I just didn’t buy into it, had a feeling it was a bad move and we all know how that worked out . C’mon bolts!! Bolt up!!!!

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      I hear ya, my friend… I don’t blame you. Letting V-Jax go was a bummer. I think Tom Telesco will handle things more sensibly, and more professionally than AJ has done in the past.

    • Cgoodness13

      On a side note, how the hell is VJ ranked hire than gates on the top 100?! Screw you nfl network!!!

  • FitzWilly

    Take it from Uncle Fitzy kids

    Kay Rey is gonna have Nut Busting Break-Out season

    we are talking pro-bowl J.J Watt like season

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      JJ Watt kind of season?!!! Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about!

  • tubbs45

    I’m ready for sack topia. I know many of of ya all are negative or I hold out until I see what happens, I’m 8 beers into metal positivity and My gut (the 12 pack legend), is telling me shit gonna be different this season. new blood. new chargers. #boltthefuckup or get #whizzedon

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      Thank you for that TB45. Sorne days its hard to put up an article, especially in the offseason. Just trying to keep the content fresh. Maybe I’ll take the week off… Lol.

      • Nick in PB

        Hey Peter, keep it coming! Right now all we have is speculation and we are also football starved! Plus there is a growing enthusiasm for the new coaching staff and what they might be able to do with the talent on board. The fact is, many of us were in a really bad place the past few seasons of Charger football. Yea, I watched all the games but I really didn’t have confidence in the team. Not from a players standpoint, but from a directional standpoint. I literally had no faith! I still rooted hard but the letdowns took their toll. There were too many times our team grabbed defeat out of the jaws of victory. For once in the past 3-4 years, the faith and anticipation of the season is coming back. I hope it’s not the same blind faith but a renewed faith so you and Shadow keep those articles coming.

        • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

          Thanks Nick. I remember commenting to each other on those brutal meltdowns last season. No bueno. But, a new Sheriff is in town. Shadow is sitting right here… until my wife finishes getting ready… and then he will ignore me for an hour or two = /

          • Nick in PB

            You got it Peter… it’s going to be a different year. Go Bolts!

  • Joshua

    U are high

  • Alexander Leithoff

    Thanks for keeping the articles coming! I’m hoping they use English and Williams in some of their 4 man fronts this year. Both were hand in the dirt DE s in college. I’m thinking Jerideau is going to handle the early downs with Cam coming in with Freeney for passing downs. I think we’re going to have a strong rotation of linemen this year if everyone stays healthy. On a sidenote….I’m hoping we breakout the 60s throwbacks this year, the ones with the numbers on the helmet. I’d love to see some of our new guys sporting the classics

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      That would be awesome to see.. The new guys being rotated, and the throwbacks!!!

  • OP Bolt

    PT – another pretty good view, like the OL article. One of the best changes there has been the improved depth, and capability to absorb injuries. We are no longer one injury away from catastrophe.

    Across the front 7 on defense, I’m not sure we are there yet. An injury to Freeny would have that kind of impact unless English can step up his performance and availability, or one of the new guys charges forward. We can only salivate about next year with Freeney and Ingram both in the attack.

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      Having Freeney and Ingram would be awesome!!! Hopefully Freeney doesn’t get too old too quick and Ingram can repair real fast too

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      Thanks OP. Depth is something that kept Green Bay in the race until their starters could come back when they won the superbowl. So important, and nice to finally have some.

  • Rob Base

    With Cam Smash, Too Liuget to Quit and Reyes! Like WOW! Mr Freeney with a little chip on his shoulder. English and JJ better step it up dudes like Tourek Williams and Beltre may get more playing time. Man are D is going to be sick!

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      Could be the difference between a good season, and an average season.

      • Rob Base

        I’m tired of average bro. Great season please!

  • http://www.facebook.com/greg.pierro.5 Greg Pierro

    Cam Smash!

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      YES!!!! He needs to be the guy!

  • arnie

    Okay here it is Pete. I could go this way, or that. We can woulda’, could’, shoulda’, this all day. but the key here to all these players is, “…when they were on the field…”. And when they took the field, my question was, why weren’t they on the field earlier, and more often? i don’t know. and now i don’t care. Why? There is a new HC in town and he’s only going to hand out starting positions, to the best players. Not the most highly paid, the best. point being, why keep franklyn and hello kitty guy, when you get production from a guy like Reyes in 5 games.
    So yeah, i’m expecting great things form these guys, now that there play is deciding who starts, and not there pay or years in the league.

    • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

      Norv… that is all.