Grading the performance of Chargers’ Joey Bosa


For Joey Bosa, it seemed like an eternity since the last time he stepped foot onto the football field. For Chargers fans, doubt started entering their minds.

Can you blame them? Most fans were rooting for management to select Jalen Ramsey. San Diego fans were confused with the Bosa selection. He did not fit the Chargers’ defensive scheme and had a polarizing combine. Add in a rookie holdout and a hamstring injury, and it is easy to see why fans and experts alike doubted Bosa’s impact on San Diego’s defense.

Sep 1, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (99) looks on from the field before the game against the San Francisco 49ers at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

They were wrong.

First, lets look at the numbers against the Oakland Raiders for Joey Bosa. The former Buckeye only played 27 snaps in his first game against the Raiders. What he did in those snaps were nothing short of amazing. Bosa rushed the passer 20 times which resulted in seven quarterback pressures. The breakdown of those pressures were: Two sacks, a quarterback hit and four hurries.

Oct 9, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa (99) sacks Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr (4) in the fourth quarter at Oakland Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Chargers 34-31. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

But Bosa also showed that he is no one-trick pony. Along with pressuring the quarterback, Bosa was able to notch five total tackles including three tackles for losses. Now, a cynical person would say Bosa did all his damage against the Raiders’ third-string right tackle. However, Bosa was utilized on both the left and right side of the defensive line. Almost half of Bosa’s quarterback hurries came against Donald Penn, who Pro Football Focus ranked as the 11th best tackle in the NFL. Bosa’s three pressures against Oakland’s left tackle represent almost a third of the total pressures Penn has yielded on the season. Translation: Bosa did some very good things against some very good competition.

Everyone knows you can make stats say anything you want to get your point across. So let’s give Bosa’s play against Oakland the “eyeball test.” And when you rewatch the game, you come away even more impressed than his box score.

Defensive coordinator John Pagano moved Bosa all around and up and down the line. Bosa played at outside linebacker and defensive end, depending on the down and distance. His position versatility is proof that Bosa has an extremely high football IQ. When watching the film again, it is easy to see why San Diego was enamored by the former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. During his 27 snaps, he displayed:

  • A powerful one-arm bull rush to collapse the pocket
  • The ability to set the edge
  • Excellent hand usage and a good rip technique to beat the tackle and force the quarterback to step up into the pocket
  • Good athleticism to bend and dip his hips to get around the tackle
  • Fantastic motor–he rushed the quarterback and then chased down Amari Cooper to make a tackle from behind
  • A great nose for the ball–he crossed the face of the tight end to tackle the running back for a loss

PFF noticed all of this and ranked Joey Bosa as the NFL’s seventh best player of Week 5. I will admit, when the Chargers selected Bosa, I was one of those skeptical fans. When I heard his name called, all that went through my mind was well at least it wasn’t Ronnie Stanley. I was content San Diego got a player who would be able to help their dreadful defense.

And then when Urban Meyer declared that Bosa was the best player he ever coached, I became hopeful and intrigued. But I also was concerned. I was scared that management just drafted this kid because he would be a marketable player, something they desperately needed after the Eric Weddle fiasco. Clearly, like everyone else, I was wrong.

Joey Bosa is a tough, hard working, smart football player who will make his teammates around him better. Sounds like another No. 99 in this league, no? Too soon?