The pairing of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram was clearly one of the NFL’s most dominant in 2017.
The concept of making life miserable for an opposing quarterback is essential to defensive success. And the dynamic duo of edge rushers Bosa and Ingram did exactly that in 2017. The combination of Ingram’s and Bosa’s outstanding skill set have been the core aspects to this seemingly unstoppable force, and the numbers are justifying it.
But when it comes to 2018, will they be the best duo in the NFL? The reasons described below might suggest they have a great chance to.
Bosa has quickly shattered the memories of his four-game holdout as a rookie in 2016, as the former Ohio State Buckeye registered 12.5 sacks last season to go along with his 54 tackles. His sack total was seventh in the NFL.
Ingram was equally as impressive in 2017 as his pass-rush partner. In his sixth year as a pro, Ingram racked up 10.5 sacks and recovered a pair of fumbles in his first full season at defensive end.
The powerful pairing recorded a combined 23 sacks last season and were one of only three duos last year to record 10 sacks each. Calais Campbell and Yannick Ngakoue of the Jacksonville Jaguars and Julius Peppers and Mario Addison of the Carolina Panthers were the only other pairs to do the same.
One major luxury of having two exceptional defensive ends is when one of them might be struggling, the other one can elevate his game to another level and fill the void. This observation became apparent last season for Bosa and Ingram.
Through the first four games last season, Bosa brought down the quarterback just 2.5 times, but the former South Carolina Gamecock rose to the occasion. Ingram registered 5.5 sacks in the same time span, which included an admirable 3-sack performance against the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 3.
During a seven-game stretch in the middle of the season, vice versa. Ingram was in a slump between Weeks 6 and 12 when he notched just one sack in that timeframe. However, the native of Miami was a consistent machine, as Bosa took control of the defense with seven sacks and a two-sack showing against the Denver Broncos in Week 7.
Although both Bosa and Ingram posses upper echelon talent, what might be most beneficial about this duo is their age. Yes, Ingram is 29 years old and getting close to the ‘wrong’ side of 30, but he has seen drastic improvements in his game on a year-by-year basis.
After accumulating just six sacks in his first three years, the Hamlet, N.C. native has a total of 29 sacks since 2015.
As for the 23-year old Bosa, the sky is the limit. An indication of that was in Week 8 against the New England Patriots when he recorded his 19th career sack, the most for any player in NFL history in their first 20 career games. Anytime a player can produce at a top-flight level at a young age in this league, their career outlook is blindingly bright.
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There is no doubt this Chargers pass-rush combo is elite. However, they aren’t the only duo of this stature in the NFL.
The aforementioned pairing of Campbell and Ngakoue in Jacksonville are right up there. If Denver Broncos 2018 first-round pick Bradley Chubb lives up to his potential, a duo of him and former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller could easily compete for the top spot. After missing virtually all of last season due to injury, health concerns surrounding Houston Texans’ superstar J.J. Watt are genuine. But if he is even remotely healthy, a combination of him and either Jadeveon Clowney or Whitney Mercilus could be menacing.
It is very fair to say that if Chubb is a truly special talent, the duo in Denver could be the best in the NFL this upcoming season.
However, it wouldn’t be a total surprise if the pairing that call the StubHub Center home is considered the gold standard in the NFL at season’s end in 2018.