The Los Angeles Chargers know how to get to the quarterback.
Pro Football Focus knows how deadly the Chargers’ pass rush is.
In a recent article where they ranked all 32 teams’ pass rush, PFF put the Chargers at No. 3 overall behind the Philadelphia Eagles (No. 1) and Jacksonville Jaguars (No. 2). This was based on a projected starting lineup of elite rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram on the edge, veterans Corey Liuget and Brandon Mebane on the interior and second-round rookie Uchenna Nwosu as a key rotational player.
Here’s what PFF had to say:
“Were we looking purely at pressure off the edge, the Chargers would certainly be number one. The combination of Bosa and Ingram at either defensive end position is deadly, and the Chargers saw 151 of their total pressures come from the duo. They were the only team in the NFL to feature two edge defenders who finished the 2017 season with an elite (90.0-plus) PFF grade, and there’s no reason to expect them to slow down much in 2018. The bonus in 2017 was Liuget producing the best year of his career, adding 26 total pressures from the defensive interior.”
Yeah, we know Bosa and Ingram are the best pass-rushing tandem in the NFL. The talent, chemistry and versatility to move around (and play on the same side) is unmatched.
The interior? It’s still a bit of a concern. Liuget, a decent rusher who has his struggles against the run, did look better than what we saw from him the last two seasons, but he’s still just an average player in my eye. Now, if we can get the Liuget of old (like 2011-14 old), then that changes everything. Too bad we won’t know until Week 5 of the season since he’ll be suspended the first month after testing positive for PEDs. As for Mebane, he led all of the team’s interior linemen in defensive snaps last year, but he looked like a shell of his former run-stuffing self. At 33 years old, his career is coming to an end. However, Mebane’s veteran leadership is important for a defense loaded with young talent.
The good thing is that the Chargers have promising young defensive linemen behind these guys. Darius Philon, who split time with Liuget last season and will likely get the start in his absence, and Isaac Rochell, who looked good in limited time as a rookie, should make an even bigger impact in 2018. Third-round rookie Justin Jones will also compete for some snaps at nose tackle, and who better to learn from than Mebane?
As for Nwosu, he will compete with Kyle Emanuel for the SAM outside linebacker job, but he has the skill set and versatility to rush off the edge on the third downs, so it makes sense for PFF to list him. Plus, he can bat a ton of balls down at the line of scrimmage, proven by the 19 he deflected at USC.
While the Chargers are extremely talented up front, particularly on the outside, I can’t argue with PFF’s decision to put them behind the Eagles and Jags.