Chargers defense/special teams
In my preseason prediction for the Chargers, I wrote about how this defense has the potential to be the best in the league. With key injuries everywhere and inconsistent play, it has been an interesting first four weeks.
One extremely consistent aspect of this defense is the play of Joey Bosa. Although Joey’s numbers aren’t anything too ridiculous, he has such an effect on both the run and pass games while drawing so much attention from the opponents’ offensive line and giving other Chargers linemen opportunities to make plays.
Bosa is a force to be reckoned with and such an important part of this Chargers defense. Bosa has been a top-four performer among all NFL defensive ends, according to PFF.
Melvin Ingram has been great, which is also expected from the Pro Bowler. Ingram did suffer a hamstring injury but it doesn’t appear to be anything too serious, he is listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against the Denver Broncos (full injury report here).
Second-year players Uchenna Nwosu and Kyzir White have also played well and showed that they can be relied on to make impactful plays for the Chargers defense. The offseason addition of Thomas Davis has turned out to be a solid move, although he isn’t the athlete he once was, the veteran brings a toughness and physicality to the Chargers defense.
The Chargers run defense looked very suspect in Week 1, as they let Marlon Mack run all over them. This raised a lot of concerns at first, but the defense has improved against the run since and has displayed some real toughness.
The secondary was the group I had the most confidence in coming into this season, and it’s pretty obvious as to why. There is so much talent on the back side but, as always, the Chargers have had to deal with some pretty serious injuries.
The loss of Derwin James was the most impactful, and the Chargers defense misses him a lot. Derwin’s replacement, Adrian Phillips, also was put on IR with a broken forearm. Phillips is another really under-appreciated part of the defense, and I hoped his unfortunate injury would open up some playing time for second-round pick Nasir Adderley, but this hasn’t been the case.
Adderley looked like the best player on the field in his preseason action, and although it was a very small sample size, Nasir has the range and ball skills that made me think he could end up as the steal of the draft. I have faith in Nasir, who has seen really limited action thus far and is currently on the injury report, and I still think Adderley will shine when he gets the chance.
Rayshawn Jenkins has stepped up and made plays at the free safety position, bringing in an interception in the Detroit Lions game and another one in the Texans game that was called back on yet another questionable flag on Desmond King.
Having Michael Davis back in the lineup should make all Chargers fans feel good, as he continues to improve on his solid campaign a season ago, he even brought in his first career interception against the Dolphins.
first career pick ✊ pic.twitter.com/INAa3IIig4
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) September 29, 2019
Two guys that have been great are Casey Hayward and Desmond King. Hayward had an amazing season in 2017 and suffered a slight drop off last year. I thought we’d never see the same Hayward that we did in 2017, but he is playing at an elite level through four games.
Hayward held superstar DeAndre Hopkins to one catch for 11 yards in Week 3. King is, in my opinion, the most underrated defensive player in the NFL. King is physical, he can guard tight ends and receivers, his ability to make plays on the ball is also great. Both Hayward and King have been super solid thus far, and I expect that to be the case all season barring injuries.
It appears that the days of the Chargers making a mistake every week on special teams are behind us, as they have been playing well this season as a unit. The injury to Michael Badgley is strange, but punter/kicker Ty Long has stepped up in a huge way and delivered (mostly) under pressure. Although Long missed two field goals in the Lions game, he has done well in a very odd situation.
The Chargers made a move for a kicker this week as it was a lot on Long’s plate to both punt and kick.