Should the San Diego Chargers look for another nose tackle?

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Nov 17, 2013; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; San Diego Chargers defensive end Sean Lissemore (98) sacks Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill (17) during the second half at Sun Life Stadium. The Dolphins won the game 20-16. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Chargers struggled in the middle of the defense last season using Cam Thomas to lock down the nose tackle position. He was eventually pushed out of the starting lineup by Sean Lissemore. Now, Lissemore has been given the starting job this year without much competition from anyone else on the roster.

The team did draft Ryan Carrethers to rotate on the defensive front, but will he be enough? The team also has Kwame Geathers to push for playing time as well, but both players still seem to be a season away form making an impact.

There isn’t much depth at the position behind Lissemore. Carrethers was taken in the 5th round this season and has to develop. Geathers got some playing time last season, but has he done enough to move to the next level this year?

The coaching staff likely has been evaluating the talent at the position during these OTAs and they have to be thinking about bringing in a possible veteran onto the roster. There are a couple of guys that are available that could fit in nicely on the roster:

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  • afroamongfew

    Not if Pagano is retained as the Defensive Coordinator beyond this year, no. The amount of Nickel packages we run where the NT comes off the field (somewhere close to 55% of defensive downs) means that we shouldn’t spend additional resources on getting another Nose Tackle.

    Let’s see how the situation with Carrethers (my favorite draft pick this year), Lissemore and the others develops this year, first, before seeing about making another move.

    • Sergio Quintero

      Nice to have you back afro, have to agree the chargers base is their nickel package, and it seems to be their point of emphasis in particular that they have to beat the Broncos to own this division.

      But clearly the NT at this point is not a position of strength, an additional experienced veteran to compete with the young players wouldn’t hurt.

    • Bolty

      Carrethers is your favorite draft pick?!? Not Verrett or Attaochu?!? Ok then.

      • afroamongfew

        No. Verrett is a quality talent who, if he had gone to a contender looking for a final piece to put them over the top (like San Francisco or Denver for instance) he would have wound up making an immediate impact because he would have been put in a position to succeed. Whereas, given the state of the defense in 2013, I have my doubts as to whether or not he can be the “savior of the secondary” his draft spot basically demands of him, and I don’t believe he will factor heavily into the team’s success this year (given the time he’s missing due to injury). Attaochu is a great talent but it bothered me that we gave up a 4th rounder to take him.

        I like Carrethers far more than either of them because I feel Carrethers was both properly valued (I had a 3rd round grade on him) and scheme perfect (his flaws with regard to speed and pocket penetration are masked by the fact that his role in our 3-4 will be to hold the middle and stop the run inside, not serve as part of the pass-rush).

    • tubbs45
      • afroamongfew

        Yes, the line was awful last year, and Lissemore isn’t exactly Vince Wilfork, but please, do point out which free agent NTs you would like us to sign who would fit within our current cap space that would be a considerable upgrade over Lissemore. I’m all ears.

        The point I was making is that we don’t field a NT frequently enough to warrant pursuing another option this year. Yeah, you could have made the argument for trying to go after a vet like Paul Soliai or a rising talent like Linval Joseph earlier on in the offseason before FA, but both those guys are signed to new teams, and so are most of the other available options (minus a 34-year old Kevin Williams).

        Should it be a point to go after a 3-4 NT in the offseason? Probably if the defense doesn’t cut it, but it is very difficult to find the kind of defensive linemen the team needs for it’s defense to be functioning. They don’t grow Jamal Williams-es on trees.

  • Sergio Quintero

    The depth in general in the defensive line is a concern to me even after the draft, the playing experience behind the starting 3 is very low.

    I have a deep concern that there isn’t any backup that can pass rush at DT position in the nickel package beyond Liuget & Reyes. Part of the reason I think Palepoi might actually make the roster.

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      i have the same concern as you do with the depth on the defensive line. I wish Pagano would be a little more creative and he could use Melvin Ingram on the inside more as well. He was used there in South Carolina and could give the team some snaps from that spot. that could allow Freeney and Johnson or Attaochu to take the end spots. Seems that the depth is much better, IF our coordinator was willing to do something like that.

      • Sergio Quintero

        Yeah I remember that Ingram terrorized OG’s in college playing DT in the Gamecocks nickel package, if the starter got hurt it wouldn’t surprise me that they tried Ingram at that spot.

        But injuries might be the only reason the chargers try Ingram there, Pagano doesn’t strike me for the overly creative type, he’s more scheme sound than a creating plays through scheme type of DC.

        • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

          exactly… that is the only way i see Ingram in there in that situation. Wish he could get that chance though. We would have more playmakers on the field at once…

          • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

            i could see myself harping out this throughout the year.

          • Sergio Quintero

            I wouldn’t mind seeing Freeney & Attaochu outside with Ingram inside, not a bad idea I say.

            The ideal would be to make Ingram the “swiss army knife” version of a 3-4 defense, like Justin Tuck was for the Giants 4-3 defense. Once again nice to dream can’t see it happening with milktoast Pagano at the helm.

          • tubbs45

            that could be a deadly little switch up… talk about a who do I block situation…

          • Sergio Quintero

            We can dream Tubbs, but I can’t see it happening much if at all.

          • tubbs45

            Pagano will not deviate…

          • afroamongfew

            This. I reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally want this.

  • tonyloc1970 .

    I believe TT and McCoy are waiting to see how Carrethers and Geathers are developing. Once the pads go on and training camp is in full swing, the assesment will be made. If another vet is needed to assist Lissemore then they will pick one up.

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      that is likely what they are waiting for, but i can’t say i am comfortable with this group at this time.

      • tubbs45

        It is difficult to be comfortable with the unknown… preseason will be quite tell and HOPEFULLY comforting. I really liked Aubrayo hone he was here, but he really doesn’t meet the ‘young player’ theme that TT and Mc seem to be rolling with.

  • Derek

    I believe in the crew we have at nt. no we didn’t grab nix (and looking at texans ota where he hasn’t looked good I’m happy) we didn’t grab solai (my fav) that guy from texans abroyo (who deff declined in Indy) or any other pricy free agent. These new guys are a risk as are older vets who pay for that flawless game tape in the medical room. Considering we had no shot at lindval and soali with their demands this is the best decision we could have made.

    • http://boltbeat.com/ Ernie Padaon

      couldnt we bring in one of those guys for competition. They have proven in the past and the money that they are going to get isn’t going to be a ton.

      • Derek

        Kevin wants premium money. Abroyo we could bring in but then I believe that stunts our rookies growth. We got Sean who has proven last season he can hold it down. Adding another vet would prevent Ryan and geathers from getting any chance to prove himself and then next yr geathers is on the street with maybe a few special teams snaps to his name and we still dono what Ryan can do. He is already bulked up. He did like 38 reps on bench only stopping cuz clamps fell off.

  • philiprules

    I guess I’m more of a fan of ability over experience, especially when the experienced guys available suck.

  • arnie

    No. These guys will be there when injuries show up or they need to push Lessimore. Like Afro said, let’s see what we have in Chargers Park, before we go spend Dean’s money on something we may not need.

  • Julien Bélair

    Let the young guys play

  • esco charger

    How many years are we gona keep doing this before we address the need if its not garay then it was Franklin when Franklin was out the door everyone was so sure Thomas was gona hold down that spot after we seen mediocre play it was lessimore then he gets hurt so after lessimore doesn’t get the job done then what its time to get this position addressed its long over due

  • Bolty

    Lissemore can play any position on the DL. So, can we have an “objective” competition between Lissemore and Reyes for starting left DE? At least on 1st & 2nd downs we can have Ingram, Lissemore, Carrethers/Geathers, Liuget, Johnson or something of that nature. 3rd down passing plays: Attaochu, Reyes, Liuget/Lissemore, and Freeney with Teo and Ingram as ILBs. Or, Attaochu, Reyes, Ingram, and Freeney with Teo and Butler/Conner as ILBs. Outside of player health issues, Pagano is running out of excuses and will probably either be “revered” or “reviled” this year depending on his game plans and adjustments or lack thereof.

  • Nick in PB

    I like the article Ernie. If Carrethers or Gaethers doesn’t step up and show something in camp, then maybe you look to the outside for veteran help. First, you see what these guys can do and see how they develop. Gaethers, in his second year should be ready to make that jump for playing time. If he does, then we can bring the rookie along more slowly. I really would like to see Carrethers push for playing time. He has a reputation for doing what is asked of him so hopefully, he will catch on quick.

  • OP Bolt

    I fall on the side of seeing what we have on hand after we put the pads on this summer. The staff has to have confidence in its draft evaluations and the evaluations of the players retained vs. those that have been released. In order to maintain credibility, they need to provide competitive opportunity. The long term health of the team requires the development of young players. If Lissemore were to be injured in training, then I would be on board with looking for a veteran FA.

  • afroamongfew

    I will add that the contradiction between the “we should sign a veteran NT NOW because we don’t really know what we have” crowd and the total lack of a “we should sign a veteran CB NOW because we don’t really know what we have” crowd is kind of hilarious to me. Yeah it sucks to sit there and just accept the “Let’s just see where this is going, guys” kind of ethos, but that’s what training camp is for. Let’s just wait to see who winds up being cut before whipping our keyboards into a frenzy over what positions needs to be addressed for the team to contend (or do well) in 2014.

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

    The time to add a decent nose tackle is long gone. We are married to what we have now, for better.. or probably.. worse.

  • snowcker

    Unless Carrethers is looking really bad in OTAs then we are going into the preseason with the NTs we have on the roster. Carrethers and Geathers will get the opportunity in preseason to show they can play at the NFL level. If they can’t we’ll pick up another veteran right before the season starts or a couple weeks in.