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Dwight Freeney was unable to finish in 2014

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Dwight Freeney was one of the more hyped names for the Chargers defense coming into the 2014 season. After suffering a torn quadriceps in 2013, he was finally healthy and ready to produce in a big way. Unfortunately, his 3.5 total sacks on the season were the lowest of his career when suiting up all 16 games. The lack of success could be attributed to a number of things. The first being the transition into the 3-4 outside linebacker role. He admitted the great adjustment that had to happen in 2013, but was praised by the staff and analysts for ability to adjust during camp. It could also be that he was in a snap rotation. He only played 590 total defensive snaps in 2014. It could also be that at age 34, he just wasn’t as quick as he used to be.

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Maybe I was the only one who noticed just how often #93 was in the opposing backfield, but yet how little he was able to capitalize on it. He would pull out the old Dwight Freeney famous spin move, end up in the backfield and then couldn’t get a hand on even the most immobile QB’s. But just how often did he find a way to hurry an opposing quarterback? Freeney was credited with 40 QB hurries in 2014. The only two 3-4 outside linebackers credited with more were Ryan Kerrigan and NFL sack leader Justin Houston. In contrast to his 3.5 sacks, Houston had 22 sacks and Kerrigan had 13.5. Keep in mind that each of those players saw 1000+ snaps in 2014. As a whole, Freeney finished with 10 total tackles, 9 missed tackles, 1 tackle for loss, and 3.5 sacks

It just seemed like he has enough vision and game knowledge to find a way back there, but ultimately didn’t have the same quickness or speed off the edge that he did in his Indianapolis days. It’s hard to compile a video of just how often he was back there, but just look at this preseason highlight film and you’ll see what I mean.

Fortunately, the Chargers have two very capable, talented, and young outside linebackers who are ready to take the next step. Freeney is an impending free agent and also could make the decision at age 35 to hang up the cleats. However, if he decides to play til all the tread is off the tires, should the Chargers welcome him back on low cost 1-year deal? He is without a doubt a great mentor and leader. But is it time to cut the youngsters loose and let them develop at game speed?

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