LA Chargers defensive line grades: Linval Joseph
Joseph’s play in 2020 is the most substantial variable when it comes to how good the defensive line can be. Despite some decline in 2018 and 2018 relative to his prime, he still gives the Chargers better play than what they were getting before on the interior with Mebane.
Looking at the last three years, Joseph has averaged a defensive grade of 78. In the same time span, Mebane’s average was 53.6. Many will say that Joseph peaked in 2017, which is true. That was when he has the fifth-best run defense grade out of all defensive lineman in the league. However, it’s all about how much of an improvement is over what they were getting before.
Mebane would’ve been almost 36 when the 2020 season started, whereas Joseph will turn 32 in October. He’s still at an age where he might return to his prime in a new scheme. Even if he just stays at the same level he is currently, it’s a drastic improvement in terms of athleticism and overall effectiveness.
Another upgrade Joseph brings to the team is the potential to fully unleash Bosa and Ingram. The Chargers haven’t had a defensive tackle who’s commanded an offensive line’s full attention in a very long time. That has allowed tackles and guards to double team Bosa or Ingram on plays. Just having one relatively good interior lineman changes the Chargers’ fortunes in Gus Bradley’s 4-3 scheme.
Could Joseph decline further as he ages into his mid-30s? Anything is possible. The reality is that even a version of Joseph that declines further would give a defense more in the middle than Mebane, Jones, or Tillery did last year.