It’s Time to Shine for Bolts’ Melvin Ingram

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Dec 8, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; New York Giants running back Andre Brown (35) fumbles the ball as he is tackled by San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram (54) during second quarter action at Qualcomm Stadium. The Chargers recovered the fumble. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Two years have gone by since the San Diego Chargers selected Melvin Ingram with its first-round pick. After finishing his senior year in South Carolina with 10 sacks and two interceptions, there was hope Ingram would bring his pass-rush expertise to the Chargers. But the simple fact remains: the inability to get pressure on the quarterback is still a pressing need.

Pressure by defensive ends Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes have been the only thing going for the Chargers, as the team’s linebackers have yet to show up. Between Reggie Walker, Jarret Johnson, Thomas Keiser, Larry English, Donald Butler, Tourek Williams, Manti Te’o, Dwight Freeney (injured) and Ingram (injured), they combined for 15.5 sacks in 2013. Nine linebackers, 15.5 total sacks..not exactly your cup of tea.

Per Pro Football Focus, the Chargers blitzed 32.29 percent of the time in 2013, which was No. 13 in the NFL. However, San Diego was second-worst in the league in terms of production on recorded blitzes, with 16 sacks, 21 hurries and 49 hits on the quarterback on a total of 226 dropbacks. - Eric Williams, ESPN

Ready to take over?

Many were hoping the 18th overall pick would become the Chargers’ next feared pass rusher ever since the lights were shut out on Shawne Merriman. Ingram played in all 16 games with two starts in his rookie campaign, showing off some talent with 18 quarterback pressures, tied for second-most on the team. In 2013, Ingram suffered a torn ACL in May after being pegged to have a “breakout year.” He made a miraculous comeback, making his way back onto the field by Week 14.

Ingram did come in with questions on whether his “short arms” would stop him from being a premier pass rusher. There is an answer for those critics: Kansas City Chiefs Tamba Hali. Hali’s arms are a fraction of an inch shorter than Ingram’s, but that hasn’t stopped him from racking up 73.5 sacks.

“His closing speed and correctness is another excellent adaptive trait, and it makes up for that that Ingram will miss running backs out of his perimeter that longer defenders will be able to take down.” – Doug Farrar, Yahoo! Sports

The downside: Ingram has totaled two sacks over two seasons. Regardless of numbers, Ingram brings a positive presence and a boat-load of potential, but potential needs to turn into results. Even though Ingram played in 57-of-81 snaps during the Chargers playoff game against the Cincinnati Bengals, he proved to be a hassle against a solid offensive line. He also picked off Andy Dalton towards the end of the game, ridding any hope of a Bengals comeback victory. While many seem impatient with Ingram’s progress, 2014 will be his year.

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Tags: Dwight Freeney Jarret Johnson Melvin Ingram NFL San Diego Chargers

  • tubbs45

    I can’t wait to watch him mix it up this year!!! Hope he comes on strong and dominates. This years competition WILL be the biggest test of our team!!!

  • Chad Jensen

    Great read.

    • Matt Pagels

      Thanks man I appreciate it!

  • Marcel West-Bailey

    I don’t use the term “breakout year” because I think it often brings about false hope but I think Ingram, if healthy, can be a factor this year. Being hampered by injuries is obviously a physical hurdle but also a mental one if you’re thinking about not injuring yourself again. He showed he could be a factor in his last few games in the season. I think we’ll see more of that this year.

  • shayaaa

    Kinda weird realizing individual players in the league had more sacks than our entire team last year.

    • Augie Baza

      Chargers had a Pathetic 35 sacks last year. Tell me one individual player that had more sacks than that. FAIL…….

  • Sergio Quintero

    Will repeat judging pass rushers solely on sacks is incorrect, its like judging a hitter solely on home runs and giving no credit for singles, doubles & triples. His rookie season he led the team in pressures, and those cause incompletions that get the team off the field.

    For any that doubt his talent, rewatch the Cincy game, Dalton avoided in the last instant about 3 sacks for Ingram, but he was a factor throughout the game. If he can take that game and repeat throughout the season you have yourself one heck of a player.

    • Matt Pagels

      I mentioned his sack total but never judged him on it. As I stated numbers aside, he brings a positive presence. And like we both said, when you watch the cincy playoff game he gave Dalton and that offensive line fits. Hopefully people understand the impact he will bring to this team when healthy.

      • Sergio Quintero

        Not specifically criticizing you Matt, more of a generalized how fans judge pass rushers criticism, we have all watched a scrub player get a sack in a game, but in general have a really poor game, Cam Thomas may have been the expert of the one flash play and in general having a really poor game; to give no credit for pressures, knock downs & hurries is dumb, a guy caused a negative something to a QB that is doing his job.

        • Matt Pagels

          I absolutely agree. For instance the constant pressure on Manning that second game as a team, causing him to throw that crucial interception. I feel like me and you are on the same page for majority of the topics. I like it! Haha

  • TheReturnOfMrBlanks

    Reyes? I don’t think he added much fire power last year if anything he could be one guy possibly loosing a starting job this year if he doesnt improve.

    • Marcel West-Bailey

      Some of that can be attributed to poor play by Cam Thomas

  • Peter Thompson

    I’m really pushing for him. I need an Ingram jersey for my collection… still a little gun shy, though.

  • BoltNative

    Reading how ineffective Pagano’s blitzes were in another article, I wonder why Pagano didn’t adapt more. Maybe all of the injuries made it difficult for the replacements to grasp any other blitz nuance. Or maybe Pagano is not as creative as we would like him to be. In college, Ingram moved all over the place and was very effective. But, will Pagano even consider having Freeney, Attaochu, and Ingram on the field at the same time without burying Attaochu deep in the rotation in his first year? I believe Pagano’s playcalling will be under the microscrope this year. Freeney should be hungry to finish his potentially last year as a player. Ingram should be hungry to finally play a complete season with something more than average statistics. And Attaochu is hungry to come in and make a huge splash as a rookie. Whether Pagano puts them in scenarios where they all can “succeed” or just falls back to predictable status quo defensive coach group think is what I want to see. This defense has the makings of a top 10 defense this year IMO. I’d like to see Pagano coach “every” game like the Colts game last year.

  • afroamongfew

    So folks, what’s it going to be? Because, I seem to recall many people defending Larry “I am a bust” English for the whole “he ALMOST gets sacks” thing in the past. The fact is that drafting Jeremiah Attaochu had better be a wake-up call for Ingram. Rookie will be competing for snaps with him and Freeney, and if Ingram doesn’t demonstrate development at either pass-rushing or run-stopping, I’m not sure he’ll get a second contract from us in the future.

  • miketuck

    Yes it is time for Ingram to shine, and the way to do that is by having a feared OLB on the other side. Jared Johnson has been beat up for to long. His quickness is in decline and he gets fooled alot in the running game, allowing RB’s to get the edge. Attaochu hopefully will fill that void left by Shawn Phillips being let go. Freeny is not the answer either although a great OLB off the bench.