LA Chargers: Grading the 2020 defensive line

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(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) – LA Chargers
(Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) – LA Chargers /

The defensive ends have been the saving grace for the lA Chargers’ defensive line in recent years.

Defensive end has been a strength for the LA Chargers for a while now. Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram provide so much off the edge. In a lot of ways, they’ve been making up for the lack of push from the interior line recently.

Brandon Mebane was a veteran presence for the Chargers on the interior. He was pretty great at the beginning of his tenure in San Diego, but declined most recently in 2018 and 2019. His 48.7 defensive grade on PFF was the lowest of his career. The first week of free agency would result in his release in favor of signing Linval Joseph from Minnesota.

Justin Jones took a step up in 2019 in comparison to his rookie year. His performance in 2020, as well as Jerry Tillery‘s, will determine how much push the Chargers will get up the middle.

LA Chargers defensive line grades: Joey Bosa

Starting with the defensive ends, Bosa is easily the best player on the defensive line. I’d go as far as to say he’s the best individual player on defense. He certainly has the most impact with his pass rush and rush defense on the line.

2019 was Bosa’s comeback year after being held to just seven games in 2018 with a foot injury. There was never any concern that he wouldn’t be the same player, but it was nice to see the same explosiveness again. His pass-rush skills might honestly be better than they were before, and he outplayed his previous 2017 peak.

His defensive grade was a point higher than in 2017, but more importantly his rush defense and tackling were 10 and 5 points higher respectively. Bosa set career-high marks in tackles for loss and quarterback hits. No matter which stat you look at, Bosa was more intense and dangerous than he had been in any year previously.

The million-dollar question (well, several million-dollar question) with Bosa is the contract extension. There’s no doubt in my mind that the Chargers will move to extend him as quickly as they can. Contract extensions past the 2020 season are pretty much on hold around the league as teams wait to see the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the future of the salary cap.

Bosa will be a Charger for the foreseeable future whenever the contract gets worked out. He’s arguably the best player on the team and one of the most efficient players in the league. With the signing of Joseph, my hope is that he gets to face fewer double team blocks over the course of the season.