The Los Angeles Chargers lost a close one against the Houston Texans, but the bright spot there was obvious in the Chargers’ linebacker room.
Again, Keenan Allen is not a position group, so he didn’t win this week. Casey Hayward is also not a position group, so he doesn’t get the honor either. Instead, this linebacker room took some strides since Week 1. Denzel Perryman and Thomas Davis look fantastic against the run, though they do struggle a bit against the pass.
The tone was set from the beginning and it did not change throughout the game. Perryman and Davis were not going to allow Houston to run the ball. Houston took on that challenge and unfortunately passed all over a defense that looked to be too worried about the run game. Roderic Teamer, Perryman and Davis is not the best pass defensive trio to have in the box, but even so the defense looked much more stout than the prior two weeks. Just take a look at the stats.
Carlos Hyde: 10 carries, 19 yards, 1.9 average, one touchdown.
Deshaun Watson: 7 carries, 18 yards, 2.6 average.
Duke Johnson: 2 carries, 2 yards, 1.0 average.
That’s a big success for a team that was gashed in the AFC divisional round against the New England Patriots by the Sony Michel, James White duo. That bad rush defense continued against Marlon Mack and the Indianapolis Colts, but the Chargers seem to have stepped it up.
Now, credit goes to much more than Perryman and Davis, as Teamer played very physical football in the box, regardless of his pass defense. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are also doing extremely well in setting the edge and containing the runs. Their disruptive play has gone largely unnoticed by the fanbase so far in the season.
You have to be happy with the success that the run defense is having compared to last year, as it will allow the Chargers to throw in more dime packages on later downs, possibly allowing rookie second-rounder Nasir Adderley onto the field, and linebacker Uchenna Nwosu to rush from the edge. It benefits the Chargers greatly to not fall behind on first down, and hopefully the trend continues going into the next few weeks before the Chargers meet some tougher opponents like Chicago and Green Bay.
Now the stat sheet can be a total lie when it comes to the play of linebackers. The total rush yardage for the Texans can very well be attributed to the defensive line, and they surely helped in that regard.
Bosa and Ingram do a fantastic job of pinching the run plays inside, forcing the runner into Perryman and Davis. That said, it’s the way Perryman and Davis played that impressed. Perryman was able to beat the runner outside on two occasions, something that Davis struggled to do in Week 1. Davis, meanwhile, has done a beautiful job of standing the lead blocker up and still beat said blocker, getting to the running back. The Chargers have lacked such a physical presence for a while, as the group was a bit undersized last year.
Now, the Chargers have two strong run stoppers in Perryman and Davis, and two fast coverage backers in Kyzir White and Jatavis Brown. Factor in playmaker Drue Tranquil on special teams, and pass rusher Nwosu off the edge, and you can say that the Chargers linebacker group is the best it has been in years.
As stated at the beginning of this article, this weekly award is just dying to be given to the wide receivers with Allen on pace to absolutely shatter nearly every receiving record in the book, but the award can’t go to just one man. The linebackers were the best unit on the field on Sunday.