Nose tackle was a huge need for the San Diego Chargers, and they filled that need with the addition of Brandon Mebane.
Mebane spent the last nine seasons playing for the Seattle Seahawks. He was a stout nose tackle and big leader for his former team. He signed a three-year, $13.5 million deal in the offseason, and he is expected to be the anchor in the middle for a team that hasn’t had such a player since Jamal Williams.
Not only will Mebane make an impact on the field, but he will also be a huge presence in the locker room. This Chargers’ defense is filled with youth looking for a leader, and Mebane is the answer.
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Mebane made comments on Monday that reflect how much talent is actually on this Bolts’ roster, the defense in particular.
“There is so much talent on this team, it’s unreal,” Mebane said, via Chargers.com. “I was telling guys there is more talent on this defense than there was in Seattle. If you look at the draft, you have four first-round draft picks and you have five second-round draft picks all on defense.
“In Seattle, you only had two first-rounders and one second-rounder. If we put it together, just play together and work on our skill, I think the sky is the limit for our defense.”
From those comments alone, you can understand why the Chargers brought in Mebane. He is not only a great nose tackle, but he’s also a leader who understands what it takes to be great.
The key phrase Mebane said was “play together and work on our skill.” That’s exactly what this Chargers’ defense needs to work on. Each and every game they need to be on the same page and have the desire to be great. The talent is definitely there, they just need to work together as a team.
When asked about the Chargers’ defensive line as a whole, Mebane made strong comments on what he has seen already.
“I knew that they were very young, and I’d seen on film that they were very raw on talent,” he said. “One of the things I’d noticed was the technique could improve. And they’re improving from the day we started working with the coaches on the field to now. They’re improving so much to where I was like, ‘Wow, it’s amazing.’”
Mebane is going to play between 2011 first-round pick Corey Liuget and 2016 first-round pick Joey Bosa. Mebane, who is 31, is five years older then Liuget and 11 years older then Bosa. Much like the fans, Mebane already has high expectations for Bosa.
“I think he’s got a little nasty side to him (on the field), and that’s a good thing,” Mebane said. “…I knew he was a guy who will run to the ball and chase the ball all over the field. He doesn’t get tired out there. I have to get my cardio up (to keep up)!
“Seeing how good he is now compared to how good he is going to be once we continue to get reps every day, I think he’ll probably be a Pro Bowler (one day) and Corey (could be) an All-Pro player, too.”
Mebane also thinks highly of his new defensive coordinator, John Pagano. He is very intrigued from what this scheme can do to his game. Pagano is famous for throwing different looks at a quarterback throughout the game. Mebane should benefit from that greatly compared to how he was used in Seattle.
“(I) have the opportunity to get more one-on-one’s up front,” Mebane said. “I think up there in Seattle, everyone pretty much figured us out to where I got more double (teams) last year than any year of my career. I think here, where you have five guys on the line of scrimmage, you don’t know who comes or when it comes.”
You can tell the 31-year-old veteran thinks very highly of this Chargers’ team, especially the defense as a whole. Not only has the defensive line/pass rush improved since last season, but the secondary has as well. This a very early outlook of what we could see on the field in Week 1, per Pro Football Focus.
Credit: Pro Football Focus
Eric Weddle will be a loss, but the additions of Mebane, Bosa, Casey Hayward and Dwight Lowery should improve this defense dramatically from what it was a year ago. Notice they have Jahleel Addae listed as the free safety and not Lowery. That is because Pagano loves to move his safeties around. Don’t be surprised if we see other players such as 2016 fifth-round pick Jatavis Brown or Brandon Flowers play a role at the “safety” position as well.
It’ll be exciting to see what this defense can become. The Chargers have a mix of veterans to go along with young talent. They also have depth on almost every level. They have Flowers, Craig Mager, Steve Williams, Darrell Stuckey and Dexter McCoil in the secondary, Brown and 2016 fourth-round pick Joshua Perry at linebacker, Tourek Williams and Kyle Emanuel to rush the quarterback, and defensive linemen Darius Philon, Tenny Palepoi and Sean Lissemore to help up front.
Those are just a few players mentioned. If the Chargers are going to be a force in the AFC West this season, it will be in large part because of this defense.
Like Mebane said, the sky is the limit.