The 14th ranked defense of the Los Angeles Chargers for yards allowed this season has faced 3 of the top ended QBs in the NFL, and has been beaten 2/3 times – this defense is not quite as good as I think many expected from this crew. Watching this defense – I just can’t move on from the feeling that Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley is just not putting his guys in a natural position to be effective.
It would bug me if I were a Chargers fan that the team doesn’t bring in a guy to compete for a LB position – it seems Gus has a pretty strong reputation for wanting who he wants – and I think it could be hampering the team’s competitiveness. Bradley has had some schematic problems matching wits with NFL offensive coordinators – he doesn’t make opponents very concerned very often – and if it wasn’t for Joey Bosa there is not much to fear as far as a pass rush.
It’s a bit odd that he doesn’t seem to use corner blitzes and even a safety blitz more frequently – safety Desmond King has the ability to put some pressure on QBs if they want to win. Why not fire him even more often? And when everything is on the line, Gus tends to go to being conservative and letting QBs sit in the pocket and pick apart their cast of weak LBs across the middle – their guys need to get their act together, and soon. At this point of the season – I think we can all agree the Chargers are not going to be as good as some expected them to be. They have given up too many middle routes at the sticks with their current defensive scheme, Tennessee brutalized it when Corey Davis ran constant 6-7 yard crossing routes over and over and over again. Based off of their soft defensive play.
Uchenna Nwosu, the LB from USC – at 6-2 and 255lbs has a frame like he has – yet he had gotten just 2 sacks and 26 total tackles for them. Nwosu is behind his peers from the 2018 draft class – he has struggled with getting to the QB in his short career thus far as an NFL linebacker, and should be a bigger factor in the defense – with his size and strength. With Denzel Perryman at inside linebacker he has certainly not been great with a big fat zero QB hits or any semblance of being able to pass cover. Thomas Davis is an old linebacker, at 36 – and is still a supremely productive player who has been a crucial reason why Los Angeles stays in some of the games they have played. But a 36 yr old LB is only going to be playing at a top level for a short period, they shouldn’t be so reliant on the 14 year veteran.
Los Angeles needs more than just stud DE Joey Bosa as an actual pass rush to help get some real opportunities for big stops – as they have 24 sacks so far – with Bosa alone accounting for a remarkable 35% of their total. Bradley needs to throw a full, all out, blitz on opponents more often – similar to what the Rams or Saints do. I don’t see the blitz used much by the Chargers defense.
The Chargers are one of the worst in the NFL vs 3rd down – ranking at 9th worst at almost 44% and they have given up 63 first downs vs the rush – putting them at 5th worst in the NFL, Los Angeles has given up far too many 3rd down conversions this season. It’s concerning how vulnerable Los Angeles is to 3rd down conversions and potential heroics. Sometimes the Chargers have been victimized by some really great QB play – sometimes guys are just wandering about wide open down field. It makes this team feel a little hollow.
I think the Chargers can be so much better than their defense has been this season. Nwosu should have 5-6 sacks by now, and Perryman should easily have 50-55 tackles. Los Angeles can complain about linebackers not staying with RBs or firing enough – but Gus Bradley needs to get the LB crew working with their DBs and their Dline. If they don’t improve like it appears they wont be – this defense will be one of the most disappointing units this league has seen in awhile.