Sep 9, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers linebacker Dwight Freeney (93) rushes the quarterback during the second half against the Houston Texans at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Who on the Chargers roster can get to double-digit sacks?

Who is going to bring that pass rush for the San Diego Chargers. This has been the question since Shawne Merriman was caught for steroids. Who is going to bring it? Who is going to change the landscape of the Chargers defense?

There are a number of people that the team is looking toward to bring the heat. Tom Telesco has brought in a couple of guys during his watch to bring the heat. Dwight Freeney was brought over last season to provide a pass rush and he was doing a decent job before he went down with an injury. Will he still be able to provide that pass rush after the major injury or will he take a step back? He is the only proven commodity on the roster at this point. There is potential at the other positions, but Freeney is the most likely to add some pass rush help. He has gotten double digit sacks in the past, but will he get the playing time and will he be healthy enough to get there this time?

Other than Freeney, Jeremiah Attaochu is the best option to get after the quarterback. He hasn’t even played on snap, but he was brought over for his ability to get after quarterbacks. He will get plenty of opportunities to make plays and we will need to see him produce. What can we predict sack-wise out of him in his first season? Honestly, double digit sacks might be asking a lot for a player that has to find some playing time. I still think that he can get around 7-to-8 sacks during the year.

Melvin Ingram will get a whole season to play this time around. In his first season, he had to sit back and wait for his opportunities to play. His second year was shortened because of an injury, but when he did return he showed a ton of potential. This season will be the time when he needs to step up and pull together a full season of production. He may be the most likely to get to double digit sacks on the roster. Will John Pagano let him loose though?

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  • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

    Freeney 9 Sacks – Ingram 11 – Attaocho 10 That would be awesome

    • Gunnar Martin

      Playoffs are guaranteed if that happens

    • Sergio Quintero

      Put me down on the more conservative side, Freeney 10, Ingram 7-9, Attaochu 4-6. The surprise might be Liuget he might push 10 if he can stay healthy.

    • Ernie Padaon

      would be amazing.

    • John Vu

      I don’t think Freeney will play more then 8 games. He couldn’t play that much last year and now he is a year older and about 4 years past his prime. I don’t think we should count on him for much more then 4-5 sacks. As for Attaocho, don’t forget, there was a reason he didn’t get drafted in the first round and that is because he is considered a little on the weak side and can get pushed around. He may have the potential for 10-12 sacks but it may take a whole season of his body maturing and getting stronger in the legs and chest before he produces consistently. Ingram isn’t that fast to me, at least not in a short burst in a five yard area that he would need to be to be a great pass rusher. I just feel we’ll have about 3 players get around 5-7 sacks this year, that’s it.

  • Matt

    I could see Freeney getting 11 sacks if he stays healthy the whole season.
    Ingram on the other hand, I have lower expectations. Maybe 7-8 sacks because he just lacks speed to finish the play but he provides a lot of pressure.
    Jarret Johnson could get about 4-5 with his run stopping mentality.
    Attaochu could also get the 4-5 because of a limited role.

    The rest we get from our defensive line, inside linebackers, defensive backs.

    • Sergio Quintero

      Have to agree with the expectations, in particular Ingram is still figuring out the OLB thing, he played mostly DT in pass rushing situations for South Carolina, so he’s in particular raw in the pass rush moves and counters that get a player big numbers.

  • Gabe

    I say attaochu if he gets decent playing time. But on another note. How many picks do you think we’ll get from an improved pass rush? Any guess on how many verrett will get?

    • Ernie Padaon

      i am hoping he gets his hands on a few. it would be so nice to see the defense making some game changing plays for the team for a change. Weddle will definitely be looking to hover around and make some plays

  • Julien Bélair

    what about Ingram 10-11 sacks and freeney 12-15 sacks??

    • BlueBoltFan

      It’s obviously just a hunch but I get the feeling Ingram is more of a 7-8 sack, 2 INT, 4 FF type all around playmaker, not simply a QB headhunter.

  • NateLew

    Freeney WAS capable, based on how his injury happened I’m unsure he can play an entire season, he looked good in September though. Melvin can get to the QB, I have doubts he can do it consistently enough to reach 10 but it’s possible. I think Attaochu is in Melvin’s position in 2012 as a rookie, if someone goes down or he shines in preseason I’d think he’s most capable of the 3. But I have a sleeper for you guys.. Corey Liuget. He had 7 sacks in 2012, and that was playing beside Cam Thomas who can’t occupy blockers and Shaun Phillips was our best pass rush ‘threat’. I’d say Lissemore already beats Thomas, but if Carrethers can come in and occupy blockers, and a stable of Freeney, Ingram and Attaochu they have to account for, I can see Corey having a hell of a season.

    • Julien Bélair

      Great point Liuget could really get 10 sacks if his shoulder is ok

  • Julien Bélair

    Attaochu could end up being the rookie with the most sacks if he gets some playing time

  • Marcel West-Bailey

    Anyone of the pass rushers as long as they stay healthy

  • Bolty

    I remember people saying that Ingram will be “defensive rookie of the year.” Well nearly 3 years in and we’re still talking about “potential” and possibilities and not actualities and results. But, I think this team now has synergies when certain players are combined. Why can’t Pagano have Freeney, Attaochu, AND Ingram on the field at the same time??? Just one example. But, at least we have some depth now and I hope Pagano will use them all creatively, surprising opposing offenses. Pagano has no excuse this year to have a defense in the bottom third.

    • Stefanie Smith

      Bolty: I feel your pain. I am tired of hearing—about a player’s future potential..I would prefer to hear about his present potential. Ton of excuses, and cannot be helped, but year 3—yep Ingram has to come out swinging and stay healthy.

      And absolutely — Pagano has no excuse. He has some decent players. He better get moving and come up with something decent.

      • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

        Ingram got Norved in his first year when they have have utilized him way more, then he blew his ACL out year two and was coming back off that type of injury takes along time. This is actually his first season he can prove his worth at 100% and I’m looking forward to seeing what he can do.

        • Sergio Quintero

          Norv’s unwillingness to play rookies drove me nuts as well, even though Ingram only played 40% of the snaps I remember reading that he led the team in pressures. Part of the process of the development of a pass rusher is turning pressures into actual sacks.

          • BlueBoltFan

            I see a lot of complaining about lack of production on Ingram but little talk as to why. It’s not like he’s getting stuffed at the line of scrimmage. He didn’t get many opportunities his rookie year (although people also forget to mention he led the team in QB pressures his rookie year) and then HE TORE HIS ACL! And still played that year including an impact play in the playoffs against Cincinnati.

            Fans will chase him away then watch him become a defensive Wes Welker for some other team.

      • Robert Fairbanks

        The best defense cannot always defend against the likes of Peyton Manning, Tom Brady or the mind of Pete Carroll and the entire offense of the Sea Hawks led by Russell Wilson, all of them we face in the regular season here in San Diego this season. Pagano is the face of the defense but it is the players that have to execute. Like the fans that say moving the Bolts to another city or into a new stadium will make them better, bullshit, they will still be the same team.

      • Aaron Johnson

        Im sure you started your career at the top level knowing everything and never had to improve skills along the way.

        An ACL injury isnt an excuse its a reason he wasnt on the field because he literally couldnt be.

    • CALiFORNiAkiD

      Sacks are overrated, and is a glorified stat.
      Constant pressure is all that matters.

      The whole lockerroom just saw Donald Butler get paid.
      Liuget and Ingram and the rest of the guys definitely were watching.
      That part of the game can add even more fuel to the fire.

      Expect a big year from Ingram and this Defense.

      • John Vu

        I agree. I think our defense is better then people realize it is. If our linebackers stay healthy we’ll have one of the best linebacker units in the league and I believe only San Franciscos is better then our unit is. We have guys that have playmaking ability along with speed so our defense should be solid this year, assuming, we don’t get unlucky and get three linebackers missing a lot of time this year like we did last year.

    • Ernie Padaon

      i hope they can get them all on the field at the same time as well. there is enough versatility with this players that they can mix on the field at the same time.

    • Robert Fairbanks

      During training camp it may become apparent to the coaching staff that Feeney is NOT living up to his past exploits; there is a reason (not always salary or cap space) teams cut or allow the big shot player to sign with another club. Injuries are a large part of failure in the NFL and the Chargers have been prone to serious injuries to top level players. Ingram may never FULLY recover to attain his first round status, like Larry English or Ryan Matthews, because that particular injury can put a mental block on a players performance. Te’o has been injured and maybe he was a reach in going in the # 2 round, after all, he wasen’r sure if he had a GF or not.
      There will be a lot of excitement during camp but the real clue about the Chargers season will come in the first two regular season games on the road against the Cardinals in their home, and the following week in Qualcomm for the first regular season home game against the SB champion Sea Hawks.

  • Brett M

    What do you think of giving freeney more pass rushing downs at end instead of reyes? Freeney and Ingram on one side- Luiget and Attouchu on the other? Let the hungry wolves eat!!

    • Julien Bélair

      I love it

      • jamfed

        Pulling Reyes? Hmmm…. I think this may be Reye’s year though. I doubt we see a lot of Attouchu the first 5 or 6 weeks and I’m counting on Reye’s pass rushing in nickle lineups.

    • Ernie Padaon

      i would love everything about this. what if we put liuget and ingram in the middle of the defensive line to play defensive tackle and have freeney and attaochu coming off of the edges. ingram played that defensive tackle spot a lot in college and liuget did also. seems to be a perfect combination for the nickel and in passing situations.

  • blackroseMD1

    I could see, with Freeney-Ingram-Attouchu, something similar to what we had with Merriman and Phillips. One guy starts blowing up the QBs, starts getting double teamed, and the other guy(s) start racking up the sacks. Might not lead to single players with double digit sacks, but could lead to 8-9 sacks each.

    • Cutty

      If three or more guys have 8+ sacks, I’m cool with that.

      • blackroseMD1

        Haha, you and me both.

  • Anthony

    i hate when people doubt ingram. If you remember, when norv was still head coach, AKA ingram’s rookie year, he was in on less than 40% of the defensive snaps. They weren’t playing him as much as they should have considering the state of the roster at the time. Then, last year, he tore an acl in training camp and was around for only 4 games plus the playoffs, and if you remember he essentially sealed the game in cincinatti with his interception. In my book, Ingram gets AT LEAST two more seasons before I pass any judgements.

    • Julien Bélair

      That’s indeed patience

    • BlueBoltFan

      Also, the average time for a drafted player to develop into a starter is 2-3 years. We fans always remember the 1 or 2 RoY candidates that started quickly and hold everyone to that standard. Ingram has clearly shown he has the ability. He just needs the opportunity to put it together for a full season.

  • Sergio Quintero

    The announcement that Liuget played through an injured shoulder put me at peace about his future potential, I remembered he was playing at a dominant level in the preseason, he was a one man wrecking crew in the first quarter against the Bears in preseason, but he got injured and that player didn’t come back except in a play here and there the rest of the season. Now that he admitted he was playing injured there is hope for that player we saw for just glimpse in the preseason that was a full on monster is here to stay.

    • Julien Bélair

      I feel the same way. you remember in 2012 how good he was ! he will play like a star this year and we will pay him a LOT of money

    • Ernie Padaon

      i remember him going down as well and I remember him dominating. hope he can come back to form. i had a lot of high hopes for him going into last season and he disappointed like a lot of players on the defense.

  • navw21

    I don’t want to be too pessimistic but I don’t think anyone will get double digit sacks this year. I do think that a couple will get close though. Both Attaochu and Ingram will have around 7 to 9. Freeney a little less and Liuget and Reyes both around five. J.J. isn’t a sack guy so maybe 3 all others around 2 or less.

    • Ernie Padaon

      this sounds like it definitely could be the case. this is about where I am with everyone as well

  • BlueBoltFan

    I don’t know about double digit sacks. I’m seeing more sacks by committee. I think a lot of different guys in the front seven will get multiple sacks this year.

    Part of the problem last year was Cam Thomas, who couldn’t really hold up at the POA like a standard NT. With Lissemore and Geathers/Carrethers our guys should be able to take on double teams, freeing up Liuget, Reyes, Freeney, Ingram, and Attaochu to get after the QB. And with whatever combination we keep out of Johnson, English, Williams, Keiser, and Law we should be able to have a pretty consistent level of play at OLB.

  • tubbs45

    I’m gonna go with Reyes and Ingram will be in double figures this year. Reyes = 10.5 and Ingram = 12. Call it a hunch but with the addition of Attaochu and freeney coming backI have a feeling he is getting some single man and will break out….

    • Trey P

      Reyes will never be in double figures I dont.understand why his spot isnt.up for.grabs smh

      • Ernie Padaon

        i think his spot is up for grabs… Lawrence Guy was taking playing time away from him at the end of last season. LAWRENCE GUY!

      • tubbs45

        While I have not been incredibly impressed Reyes had 5 sacks the last two seasons. I’m just trying not to pick the 3 obvious candidates.

  • John sandoval

    I agree that we have so much talent the bolts should make alot of noise.but pagans has made the defense look bad.there has been several games when the chargers were winning by 3 or more and in the final minutes he would play prevent defense and eventually we lost .he should let them loose more often ,so the pass rusher can pressure the quarterback so our corners don’t always get burned by giving every quarterback so much time to pick our defense apart!

    • Ernie Padaon

      oh that pagano… sigh

  • buckeye54

    A little better coverage on the back end can turn hurries into sacks. A little more pressure up front can turn completions into passes defensed or intercepted. It all fits together and I think Telesco has improved the defensive line, pass rushing, and defensive backfield during the off season. I think this defense is going to surprise a lot of people and be ranked among the top D’s in the league.

    • Ernie Padaon

      i think it will surprise this season as well…. especially if they can be healthy

  • 21serg

    Melvin melvin melvin break out year right here mark my words

    • Ernie Padaon

      I am hoping you are right… if he does, then we will be sitting in a good place.

  • Trey P

    1) I think.we didnt get a chance ro see Ingram because rookie uear didn’t get playing time. Norv was scared to play rookies/young players..
    2) Then he got INJURED last season.

    3) Pagano does not know how to use him and its real pathetic the way he uses his pash rushers..Like you always know when were blitzing thats the problem and he never.lets them put there hands in the dirt!’ Look at Shaun Phiilips when he puts his hands in the irt. He needs to use Ingram just like.he was used in college!!

    • Ernie Padaon

      dwight freeney had his hands in the dirt a ton. don’t think the hands in the dirt is the problem, still agree that Pagano could be a big issue on this.

      • Julien Bélair

        well Ingam or any other pass rusher has to beat the Lt or RT one on one and they don’t. this is not pagano’s fault

  • tstier

    Its been so long since we have had a decent rush, I don’t know if Ill know how to act if this guy works out…

  • C.Steele

    Ernie, my $ is on Law. He got 2 years in the CFL to work on his craft. The transition for him wont be nearly the challenge of Attaochu’s. Mark my words! It’s odd to me that you didn’t even mention him.. #GoBolts

  • Nick in PB

    This is going to be a group effort with lot’s of pressure. Hard to say who’s going to get the lions share of the sacks. I’m not sure anyone is going to get double digit sacks but many will see 7-9. Overall, I think the D will get at least 10 more sacks than last season.

  • MachoMenos

    I love how the national media have written us off again (one site has us as the 21st best team in the league-WTF?). They simply believe Jason Verrett is too little, too late. They wanted us to draft a Richard Sherman clone. But let’s not forget that Richard Sherman and that secondary is great because of 1)that defensive front that puts constant pressure on the QB and 2)those LB’s who do a great job working the middle of the field. Having said that…

    BEST CASE SCENARIO: Ingram finally blossoms into the player he has showed flashes of the last two years. Norv had no confidence in him. That penalty against Brees put Melvin firmly in Norv’s doghouse. He played incredibly well at the end of last year considering he was coming off of ACL surgery. I can only imagine that he is raring to go in 2014.

    Freeney comes back with avengeance. People gripe that he didn’t have a sack put he put constant pressure on the QB and that’s half the battle. I can see him taking it to a whole new level with him and Ingram on the field at the same time.

    Attouchu and Law are weened into the mix on passing downs. While everyone is rightfully talking about Jerry we all seem to be forgetting that Cordarro Law might be Telesco’s secret weapon. He’s been a terror in the CFL after being cut by the Seahawks 2 years ago. He could be this year’s Cameron Wake. Imagine offensive coordinators having to deal with a defense that could throw an Ingram, Freeney, Attouchu and Law at them at any time? It could be grand.

    Let’s not forget about Luiget. That torn labrum robbed him of what could have been his breakout season. Remember how only JJ Watt had more passes batted down than him 2 years ago? I expect him to revert to form in 2014. Talking about 2012, Kendall Reyes bounces back from his dismal 2013 and reminds us of the guy who played for us in 2012. Even Lissemore should be able to bring more heat on passing downs with Carrethers in on most of the running plays.

    Our ILB’s come back healthy and ready to go. Butler had what could be described as his worse year as a Charger. Injuries definitely had an adverse effect on him. Despite that Telesco had enough confidence in him to reward him with a great contract. A healthy Butler pays huge dividends in our pass defense. And let’s not forget MANTI TE’O PLAYED THE WHOLE YEAR ON A BROKEN FOOT. Why do I yell? Because if this were a player on any other team we would all be amazed, NFL Network would be singing his praises and endorsement deals would come flooding in. Yeah, maybe I’m exaggerating but I kind of believe playing with a broken foot might have had an effect on the way Manti played last year. Maybe now Pagano will actually let Manti in during passing downs (where PFF says he did surprisingly well) instead of taking him out. Put some pressure on the QB and our ILB’s will have to be able to cover those quick passes to the RB’s. Or maybe Kavell Conner becomes the 3rd down ILB. I don’t really know. What I do know is this-there are definitely going to be a shake up in our LB’s roster. English, Mouton, Bird, Gashkar, Tourek and Walker are going to be fighting for their roster spots and that’s always good.

    And our beleaguered secondary is the beneficiary. Our secondary was already getting better with the benching and subsequent release of Cox, the surprise play of our UDFA Addae and the improved play of Gilchrist (who I thought would never get it) and our stalwart in the back end, Eric Weddle, who played surprisingly badly at the beginning of the year trying to plug too many holes at the same time but became the Weddle we all know and love by the end of the season. Add to that the return of Steve Williams, who was killing it before being sidelined through injury, Brandon Taylor’s return (?), the huge addition of Jason Verrett, the pound for pound best CB available in the 2014 NFL draft and the improvement of Shareece Wright once the secondary got it’s feet under it in the last 3rd of the season. Last but not least, the secondary becomes all it can be thanks to the pass rush. Now…

    WORSE CASE SCENARIO: Ingram doesn’t blossom. It still seems like if he gets stopped on his first move towards the QB he doesn’t know what to do. He still is a liability in the run game and Jarrett Johnson, while stalwart there, isn’t getting any younger.

    Freeney is a year older and it shows. He has battled injuries the last few years and this year is no exception. He becomes a shadow of his former self.

    Jerry and Cordarro have a lot to learn. While Attouchu was a terror in college he finds it just a bit more difficult in the pros. Likewise, Law finds it a lot more difficult to get to the QB in the NFL compared to the CFL and does not help our pass rush at all.

    Luiget does not bounce back and provides no pass rush. While I find this one highly unlikely, it could happen. Likewise, is Kendall Reyes ever going to get some pass rush? Yes, I know he was second on the team with 5 sacks but other than those 5 plays he was practically non-existant during pass plays. He was our Secret Superstar for 2013 according to Pro Football Focus. Where did that guy go? Our NT is a mess again. While Lissemore, Carrethers and Geathers play ok they do nothing except make us wish Jamaal Williams still was here.

    Our ILB’s suck. Butler misses more time due to injury. Te’o continues his very mediocre 2013 with an equally bad 2014. Conner is just a special teamer and our ILB continue to be mediocre at best, laughable at worst.

    Without pressure up front our secondary continues to be one of the worst in the league. Verrett and Williams are both too small. Wright is as bad as they say he is. Addae (and Wright) keep injuring our players. Weddle’s Beard finally becomes sentient and decides to take a sabbatical in Tibet for a year.

    Which scenario will play out? I don’t know. I do know this-it’s all in the hands of Pagano. I believe Tom Telesco has improved our defense immensely. He’s gotten us good players at all three levels of our defense. It’s up to Pagano to make them great…or it’ll be time to get another DC.

  • FitzWilly

    I’ll take “layin Down The Law” for 200 Ernie

  • John Vu

    Everyone is forgetting the left defensive end that we drafted in the 2nd round a few years ago. He was drafted to rush the quarterback but then Pagano doesn’t design plays for him to get to the quarterback. Remember two seasons ago he sacked Mark Sanchez five times in a game? Yeah, the Jets wasn’t ready for him because he was just a backup but still, five sacks is still awesome for anyone. Let him loose otherwise it’s not fair to him because you’re not using him for what he was bought here to do and what he does best! Rush him! I don’t see an intelligent man when I look at Pagano. I just don’t.

  • John Vu

    If the Chargers defense stays healthy and still doesn’t do well, then I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a new defensive coordinator after next season. There is something about Pagano that seems to be missing or just not right. Maybe the defensive plays are not that creative? Something along those lines….let’s see what happens.

  • David Rainey

    Cordaro Law. There I said it. That was my bold prediction for 2014. Heck, he might not even see the field, but he could be a pleasant surprise this year