As Joey Bosa and the Chargers sit at a stalemate over his contract, let’s look ahead and break down what Bosa will bring to the San Diego defense in his rookie year.
Bosa hasn’t been with the Chargers for very long, but he is already making headlines. The non-stop comparisons to J.J. Watt, a dominant showing in rookie minicamp and a contract saga, the list goes on and on.
With all of the offseason banter surrounding Bosa, many fans have been wondering what Bosa is going to bring to the table in 2016 along with what kind of production he will have. With that being said, let’s breakdown what Bosa can do for the Chargers in his first season in southern California.
Many NFL rookies have certain traits that translate right away from college to the pros. Bosa has a handful of these traits that are really going to accelerate his development.
First things first, Bosa brings versatility. He is going to be lined up all over the place next season. Versatility is something San Diego lacked last year, and it was a big problem. Bosa can play every down because he has the ability to line up on the inside or outside. At times, the Chargers may use him as an outside linebacker to catch the opposition off-guard. John Sarianides of NFLSpinZone.com does a great job of explaining Bosa’s versatility.
Along with Bosa’s ability to line up in about five different places on defense, he is a physical freak. Bosa has a ton of strength, and that is his biggest tool. Whether it be rushing the passer or clogging up holes, he can overpower offensive linemen.
Recently, Bosa has gained a significant amount of weight to make the adjustment to the inside of the defensive line. The Chargers run a 3-4 defensive front and Bosa will be a down-lineman most of the time. This will allow Bosa to affect the run game more, and San Diego needs that.
Last season, San Diego gave up the sixth-most rushing yards in the league. Joey Bosa is going to help change that. He can seal the edge on nearly every run, and he uses his hands to free himself from blockers at an elite level. With his skillset, Bosa can become the Chargers’ best run defender this season.
Run defense is the most important thing Bosa can bring to this Chargers team. Pro Football Focus ranked Bosa the best edge run defender in the nation for the past two seasons. He will consistently set the edge and stop the ballcarrier in his tracks. If they can stop the run, life will be easier for the Chargers’ secondary, which looks shaky on paper.
It would be wrong for Charger fans to expect big sack numbers for Bosa. It’s not that he doesn’t have the talent to get them, it is a mixture of scheme and lack of help. If he has a sack total in the double digits, it would be a massive victory. He is going to be receiving a lot of attention from opposing teams, and other players will take advantage. Jerry Attaochu, Melvin Ingram and Corey Liuget are all going to capitalize on Bosa’s talent.
On the other hand, everyone should expect big tackle numbers for the Ohio State product. Being that Bosa is such a monster in the run game, he is going to be all over the backfield when the ball is handed off. Expect for Bosa to rack up about 50 tackles and a dozen of them for a loss.
Now, I don’t want to make it seem like Bosa isn’t going to have any growing pains because the fact of the matter is, he is going to encounter some issues.
For the past few seasons, San Diego has had problems tackling. Too many times the Chargers are giving up big plays because they can’t finish a tackle. In 2015, they allowed a league-worst 21 runs of 20-plus yards, per ESPN’s Eric Williams. Bosa is going to need to work on finishing plays if he wants to help the Chargers overcome the tackling issues. Bosa had 14 missed tackles in his final two seasons at Ohio State.
If Bosa is lined up against a tackle or tight end, he should do just fine. However, his play against interior lineman is sort of a mystery. He hasn’t had a lot of playing time against them and it will be interesting to see what he can do. I would be shocked if it is a major struggle, but it may be a roadblock for Bosa early on.
The San Diego defense has been bad for a while now. Bosa isn’t going to fix that problem overnight, but he definitely will make it much better. His ability to stop the run is going to be felt from the first snap this season. His pass-rushing ability will also be felt. Although it may not appear on the stat sheet, he should free up his teammates to make more plays.
Tackles for Loss: 17
Forced Fumbles: 1
It is a tough thing to put so much responsibility on a rookie’s shoulders, but that may be what the Chargers are forced to do with Bosa. I expect him to be in the hunt for the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.