December 30, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers defensive end Kendall Reyes (91) during the second quarter against the Oakland Raiders at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Why Every Position Group will be Better in 2013 (Defensive Line)

So far in this series we’ve discussed defensive backs and linebackers, so I thought it only fitting to round out the defense and talk about the D-line this time.  The defensive backs were a little easier to make a case for; the linebackers were more challenging.  Let’s see how the big fellas up front rate, as I make my case for why they will be better in 2013!

Who they were:

There are a many things I love about the Chargers D-line: they’re big; they’re tough; they’re fast; they’re nasty and, above all, they’re young.  Last year we witnessed Corey Liuget’s breakout season.  The former first round draft pick recorded 7 sacks (6 more than his rookie year) and 36 solo tackles (more than double his rookie year).  Liuget is going to be a multiple Pro-Bowler and a force on the end for years to come.

On the other side we had another breakout!  Although he didn’t put up the numbers that Liuget did, Kendall Reyes had 5.5 sacks and 16 solo tackles, but he did it in his rookie year!  Now, given that most of his sacks (3.5) came in one game against the lowly New York Jets, I will try to temper my expectations a little, but I don’t think anyone can deny that Reyes was impressive in his debut season—he posted better numbers than Liuget did in his rookie year.

After that, there wasn’t much going on at defensive end.  Vaughn Martin put up pretty below average numbers in 2012 after having a decent season in 2011.  We wish him all the best in his future endeavors.  Let’s move on to defensive tackle.

We had a very solid veteran rotation in 2012 to round off our line.  Both Franklin and Garay did a decent job of plugging up the middle but couldn’t stay healthy for the whole year (especially Garay).  Cam Thomas had comparable numbers but, unlike the others, managed to stay healthy for the entire season.  This probably has a lot to do with youth and is, in my opinion, why Thomas has been handed the keys and Garay and Franklin are playing elsewhere next year.  There were no superstars in the middle of the line, but overall they did a serviceable job and were a big part of the jump to number 6 in the league against the run.

Why they will be better:

Before we get into it, here’s a small fact: the average age of our three starting defensive linemen…is 24.  That’s pretty awesome.  Okay, now let’s talk about why they will be better!

DE: I think this is an easy one.  We have a couple of beasts at defensive end.  Liuget and Reyes are young guys, coming off of solid seasons, and they’re only going to get better.  This could be the year that Liuget breaks into Pro Bowl consideration and becomes one of the better D-ends in the league.  Reyes, hopefully, will build off of a great first year in the system and become a dominant force in his own right.  The sky is the limit with these two.

DT:  This is Cam Thomas’ time to shine.  Last year, as I mentioned earlier, he was in a rotation with a couple of veterans.  This year he’s going to have a lot more playing time and we’ll see if he can handle being a full time starter.  He had a solid year in 2011 and we all thought he would break out last year.  This didn’t prove to be the case but he still has a chance to redeem himself.  This is his position to lose.  He needs to forget about last year and live up to his potential.  At 6’4”, 330ibs he can plug the middle for us and let Liuget and Reyes go to work on the outside.

Thomas is going into his fourth year so he has plenty of experience by now—Jamal Williams put up pretty average numbers until about his fifth season.  He’s the oldest member of this unit, at the ripe old age of 26, and has already said that he is ready to take a leadership role this year.  That’s what I like to hear, guys stepping up and leading by example.  Thomas has all the potential in the world and, if he can live up to it, our line is going to be dominant for years to come.  I personally think he can get the job done.

DEPTH: Normally having two undrafted rookies as your backup defensive tackles would be more than worrying, but the word on the street is that both Geathers and Jerideau are performing well beyond their undrafted status.  These two guys were probably two of the best free agent DTs out there after the draft, if not two of the best players period.  They are massive, strong and will only push each other to get better and better as the season draws closer.  Whoever makes the team (if not both) they will be a more than solid backup for Thomas in the middle.  Replacing Garay and Franklin with these guys continues the youth movement that we’re seeing all over the roster (which I am in favor of).

At defensive end the depth is a little shakier.  If we can get a full season out of Jarius Wynn then he could be a decent rotational player.  After that we have a few undrafted rookies and a second year player in Scafe, not a lot of solid options.  When you look at it like that, then we have to hope that Reyes and Liuget A) don’t get hurt and B) don’t get tired.  We do, however, have another option.  Coaches McCoy and Pagano have already said that they will line Dwight Freeney up in different positions and let him do what he does best.  This gives us a little breathing room at D-end.  Don’t be surprised if you see Freeney lining up in a three-point stance from time to time.  I also wouldn’t be surprised if TT adds another veteran player for depth before the start of the season.


So there you have it.  We have three young linemen with all the potential in the world.  I feel like they’re only going to get better.  Depth is a little shaky but it’s not that much worse than last year.  Plus, we have some young guys in backup roles that have great promise and one of the best defensive ends of all time to show them how it’s done.  In a couple of years I wouldn’t be surprised if this unit is considered one of the best in the league, but that’s just how I feel, let me know what you think!

Go Bolts!

Dave O

Next Chargers Game View full schedule »
Monday, Sep 88 Sep7:20at Arizona CardinalsBuy Tickets
Dick's Sporting Goods presents "Hell Week":

Tags: Cam Thomas Corey Liuget Defense Dwight Freeney Kendall Reyes Kwame Geathers

  • tubbs45

    Hey Davo nice work and a good read. I seriously love our D line… Cam Thomas needs a big season. I know he can do it, I just hop he make it happen this year. This line will hopefully make the secondary better just because of increased pressure!
    Our lack of depth hopefully get resolved with some of our FA pickups… Jarius Wynn could end up being a huge bonus if we can keep him healthy.

  • Peter Thompson

    Great article! This year is going to be exciting, no doubt about it!

  • Gunnar Martin

    Very excited about our extremely young D-line. They’ve got sky-high potential. I haven’t posted in a long, long time, but I’ve got a good excuse. I’m halfway through my two-week long vacation in none other than The Finest City in America baby!!!

    I absolutely love it down here in SD. Great weather, great people, and obviously GREAT sports teams (although they’re aren’t doing particularly well at the moment, but that will soon change ;) ). There’s just a really special feeling about the place, and it’s awesome. I’m so jealous that you people actually get to LIVE here! Totally going to live here when I’m retired :)

    • veazy

      You should have come over on the 5th when the US National Team whooped on Honduras’ ass in Qualcomm Stadium.

      • Gunnar Martin

        Ahh darn I was here but I didn’t know about that game! Would’ve been good to see.

  • ECAVILLE/Ace of Spades

    The iron dark horse yielding navy blue with collegiate blue trim
    Exhaling smoke from his nostrils, determined to win
    None in its path to slow the beast advancement
    Imposing its will with surprising amazement
    Too legit to quit too quik and strong to stop
    Reyes which means Kings ready to wreck shop
    Cam Thomas radiates gamma rays like The Hulk
    Smashing competition into a pulp
    With a gorilla like Geathers and a young Jedi knight
    San Diego Chargers bringing light to the night

    • 85raider

      You have to use fictional cartoon characters and science fiction to make you feel better about your non championship team? Pathetic. Ace of spades? More like two of hearts you lame ass

      • Aj

        Coming from a fan of a team where half of the crown is hiding behind darth vader masks. STFU and go worry about having the worst QB situation in the entire league. Fool!!!

        • 85raider

          You should go worry about your no receivers, running backs or o-line shit for brains. Bunch of no talent waste of space teams!

      • ECAVILLE/Ace of Spades

        You sound BIG TIME BITTER! Hope all things work out for you. 85 was a good year for the skull and bones I guess? I am exited about the Bolts this year as I should be. Not worried about the Faiders at all and haven’t worried about them in a long long time. Some of my best friends are Faiders fans and that’s to bad since they also live in South San Diego. They are bitter to about their team and I understand. Having two hearts is fine with me and two wins againts your team is to. Good luck with all your bitterness. Come back and grace us with your valued opinions when ever you feel like venting,as a Chargers fan I understand your pain, just not right now.

  • OP Bolt

    I share your optimism. Have some fun – think about a goal line jumbo package – Geathers, Thomas, Jerideau : )

  • 619chargers4life

    Couldn’t agree more

  • 85raider

    This is a garbage team that should not be allowed in California. It’s the only team in cali that hasn’t won anything ever since its existence. They should move to Ohio with all the other no championship teams

    • WSUbayBoyCharger

      What has your team done in the past 5 years? Were you even alive when they did? You probably read this article shittin bricks about our dline

      • 85raider

        That’s funny because within the last five years we swept the whole afc west. When was the last time you did that? Yea I was alive to see them be champs little boy charger. Were you alive to see that little boy? No. You’ve just seen endless seasons of your team being chumps. Get over these last 10 years. Your team has never done anything in the existence of the league. Go kill yourself like Jr say-ow

    • veazy

      Please take any trash talk you have and place it within the following link.

    • blackroseMD1

      So you live in the past with your rings won decades ago. I can live in the past too, and much more recently.

      Six straight years, we beat down on your team of criminals. SIX YEARS!

      • 85raider

        We swept you in 2010 & we beat you at our second home of Qualcomm in 2011. Last year was the first time you beat us at Qualcomm in 6 years so don’t get it twisted misinformed loser

        • Guest

          Really now?

          11/01/2009San Diego Chargers 24, Oakland Raiders 1667,01609/14/2009San Diego Chargers 24, Oakland Raiders 2061,94012/04/2008San Diego Chargers 34, Oakland Raiders 768,09709/28/2008San Diego Chargers 28, Oakland Raiders 1861,80812/30/2007San Diego Chargers 30, Oakland Raiders 1761,70610/14/2007San Diego Chargers 28, Oakland Raiders 1467,52311/26/2006San Diego Chargers 21, Oakland Raiders 1466,10509/11/2006San Diego Chargers 27, Oakland Raiders 062,57812/04/2005San Diego Chargers 34, Oakland Raiders 1066,43610/16/2005San Diego Chargers 27, Oakland Raiders 1452,66611/21/2004San Diego Chargers 23, Oakland Raiders 1746,90510/31/2004San Diego Chargers 42, Oakland Raiders 1466,21012/28/2003San Diego Chargers 21, Oakland Raiders 14

          • 85raider

            Maybe that can make you guys a trophy for that cuz I I know your trophy case is empty.

          • blackroseMD1

            If we’re going to live in the past, then we have a championship too. 1963.

            You can’t talk out of both sides of your mouth, and not expect to get beaten with facts.

        • blackroseMD1

          Oh, really now?

          11/01/2009 San Diego Chargers 24, Oakland Raiders 16

          09/14/2009 San Diego Chargers 24, Oakland Raiders 20

          12/04/2008 San Diego Chargers 34, Oakland Raiders 7

          09/28/2008 San Diego Chargers 28, Oakland Raiders 18

          12/30/2007 San Diego Chargers 30, Oakland Raiders 17

          10/14/2007 San Diego Chargers 28, Oakland Raiders 14

          11/26/2006 San Diego Chargers 21, Oakland Raiders 14

          09/11/2006 San Diego Chargers 27, Oakland Raiders 0

          12/04/2005 San Diego Chargers 34, Oakland Raiders 10

          10/16/2005 San Diego Chargers 27, Oakland Raiders 14

          11/21/2004 San Diego Chargers 23, Oakland Raiders 17

          10/31/2004 San Diego Chargers 42, Oakland Raiders 14

          12/28/2003 San Diego Chargers 21, Oakland Raiders 14

          Who’s misinformed? That’s right. As usual, it’s a Raiders fan.

          • Ernie Padaon

            YES!!!! was hoping i didnt need to respond to that one!

          • 85raider

            Cool just skip the years we beat you. Good job counting Dumb ass

          • blackroseMD1

            I’m the dumbass? You’re the one that said we hadn’t beat you at the Q in 6 years. Fairly sure that 2009 wasn’t six years ago. Of course, you’re a Raiders fan, so I can’t expect you to know math.

            Beating us 3 times in 10 years? That’s not impressive, no matter how much you try to spin it.

    • Dave O

      Good luck with Matt Flynn.

    • ECAVILLE/Ace of Spades

      The years of plundering have long been over for the silver and black. That ride needs a complete restoration or a whole new look like when the Browns became the Ravens. The Faiders have faded into their own black whole, and it don’t smell nice at all. Chargers might have a few question marks but as far as they belong here…. its a no brainer. Chargers are as relevant as the Niners are right now. Two organizations which are not going no where else but California kid.

      • 85raider

        Kid? You better relax POPS! You know as well as I do that your sorry excuse for a team will never ever win a superbowl. What do they do when they’re 15 -2 they choke in the playoffs . No wonder former charger players are committing suicide. The fans should too

        • ECAVILLE/Ace of Spades

          You can call me Pops but I’m not changing your shity diaper. You are entitled to your opinion as I am entitled to mine. I know and I believe, you do too that the Bolts have a much better shot at a SuperBowl than the Faiders. Referencing the suicide incident every chance you get is super whack kid or should I say chump. Take your own advice and relax son because you talking out your ass and you need wipes. I’m sure you will have something to rebuttal with but I am done wasting my time with 85faider.

          • 85raider

            Your done wasting your time but you wrote an essay. Just stick to what you know losing

  • veazy

    I also feel somewhat optimistic about the dline, but my only concern is the amount of rookies brought in compared to the amount of “veterans” (Damik Scafe?). As skeptical as I was about Freeney, I agree with you that he could be used as depth along the dline just as well as to replace Ingram. Based on the current dline alone, how many rookies do you think will make it onto the Chargers final roster?

    • Dave O

      I think that Geathers and Jerideau both have a great chance to make the team. Beyond that I’m not sure. We’ll probably have to wait until camp or even preseason to see if any DEs stand out. I’m thinking they will sign a veteran at some point.

  • arnie

    Great Article Dave i love the pints you made The case for DE an NT are spot on. At depth, i’m not so worried. See the Depth players that were brought on, are not even on our minds. The only UDRFA we are talking about, happen to be the ones TT picked up. I feel it’s because we actually believe, they will contribute, instead of filling out the roster.

  • ivan

    Lets not forget about EX-PACKER D.J. smith an extremely good player, a good tackler nice player. Go Bolts !!!!

  • 85raider

    Go fuck yourself San Diego!
    -Ron Burgundy

    • Guest

      Thats a good one you fuck!

  • Old Dog

    Gunnar – come to SD (I’ve lived here 20+ years) for the weather, great peolple, and plenty of things to do, but not for the sports teams. The Chargers have been declining for years. The Padres have been awful for years and years. Neith ownership is prepared to shell out the big bucks to produce a winner, because they don’t have to. Also, save up as the cost of living is extremely high and getting higher.