The Los Angeles Chargers getting some national respect? What a concept.
The team has a defense that many feel will be elite, but when talking about the league’s best defenses, you’ll still hear teams like the Chicago Bears, Baltimore Ravens and even teams with historically good defenses that may not be so great now, such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, talked about first.
Adam Schein of NFL.com is a believer in what the Chargers are doing. Several months ago, he predicted that the team would have the best defense in the NFL and recently, he doubled down on that, putting the Chargers at the top of his list of the nine best defenses in football.
That’s high praise, but it’s also correct. Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why.
Since entering the league in 2016, Joey Bosa has formed a sack attack with Melvin Ingram that you rarely see on one team. In that time span, the two pass rushers have combined for 54 sacks. When you take into consideration the games that Bosa has missed due to injury, he and Ingram have played in just 35 games together.
That’s an average of about 1.5 sacks per game as a duo, which is impressive.
The team had a perceived weakness in the middle of the defensive line but the addition of first-round pick Jerry Tillery should help solve that. Tillery is a physical specimen who can add strength and athleticism to the position. He should be able to give the Chargers an upgrade in more than just one area as well.
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Tom Telesco has placed a serious emphasis on upgrading the team’s linebacking corps in recent years, and that has led to an excellent mix of veterans and young playmakers. The free-agent signing of Thomas Davis is one of the most overlooked transactions of this offseason, and he brings a winning mentality along with the kind of veteran experience you just can’t find easily. Davis has played in a Super Bowl as well as being selected to the Pro Bowl three times.
Last but certainly not least, Derwin James is just one of those rare players. He’s special, and the fact that the Chargers got him as the 17th pick in the first round in 2018 is still hard to believe.
He has the ability to be the best player in the NFL. Yes, the best player, not just the best safety or the best defensive player.
Put all of this together and have Gus Bradley, one of the league’s better defensive minds at the helm, and it’s a recipe for success. The Chargers have the league’s best defense and soon, seeing it at the top of lists like Schein’s won’t be much of a surprise.