The Chargers defense can’t seem to get clicking on all cylinders, though they have played well in different aspects of the game through three weeks, they just haven’t looked like the stone wall defense many expected them to be.
Obviously, injuries play a huge part in this and it has become apparent how important Derwin James truly was for this team last season. His ability to play multiple positions and have an effect in both the run and pass games is greatly missed. After Derwin’s replacement Adrian Phillips also got placed on IR with a broken forearm, the Chargers asked rookie UDFA Roderic Teamer to step up and start at the strong safety position.
Teamer had a great preseason and earned a spot on the 53-man roster but unfortunately looked a little lost on Sunday. He didn’t play awful, but was just out of place on a couple of the Texans’ big plays. This is completely understandable as it was Teamer’s first real NFL action, but I hope the coaches are willing to switch up the safety rotation and get second-round pick Nasir Adderley some action if things aren’t working.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t seem to be the case (and yes, Anthony Lynn did just use Rayshawn Jenkins and “elite” in the same sentence).
One big positive from the defense was the play of Casey Hayward, who is quietly playing really well so far this season. Hayward had the extremely difficult job of matching up with one of the top receivers in the league in DeAndre Hopkins. Casey had one pass breakup and allowed one catch on two targets for 11 yards, earning the highest defensive grade on the Chargers, according to PFF.
Desmond King, to no surprise, held his own too and had a good performance. King has truly become one of the top slot corners in the NFL. Desmond makes it look easy with his mixture of physicality and coverage skills.
The defensive line did a great job in the run game, allowing only 1.9 (!!!!) yards per carry, which should be an awesome sign for Chargers fans. The problem on Sunday came in the lack of pass pressure created by the line, which is due to the complete lack of interior pressure. Both Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram played well, but it’s difficult to create pressure from the outside when there’s no push coming from the inside. This defensive line has the potential to be very good if they can develop a mixture of stuffing the run while being able to pressure the passer.
Overall, the defense is still good, just not performing up to expectations yet. Injuries suck, but as always with the Chargers, it’s about the next man up. Keep faith in this group, there are too many playmakers for Gus Bradley to scheme with, they will figure it out as guys get healthy and insert themselves back into the lineup.
Not much here, kicker/punter Ty Long was perfect on the day and showed power on kickoffs. Also, rookies Drue Tranquill and Adderley continue to look good in the coverage game. Hopefully they’ll get their chances on defense soon. Overall, the special teams unit seems more trustworthy than years prior.