After impressive seasons in 2016, could the Los Angeles Chargers tandem of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram become the best pass-rush duo in the NFL?
On the whole, the Los Angeles Chargers (then San Diego) were hard to watch in the 2016 NFL season. Perhaps it might be more accurate to say that it was difficult to watch the last 15 minutes of play in Chargers games. They made a habit of blowing leads and, ultimately, that led to the demise of head coach Mike McCoy.
Admittedly, the deck again got stacked against the Chargers due to injuries. Their offense was absolutely ravaged by them throughout the season. It’s almost not even hyperbole to say that everyone not named Philip Rivers suffered an injury of some sort throughout the year. Even worse, their defense suffered several key injuries as well. Yet, the defense still ended the season as the eighth-ranked unit in Football Outsiders’ Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA).
There were many players who stepped up and shined for the Chargers defense throughout the year. Rookie Jatavis Brown was a nice surprise at linebacker while Casey Hayward became a bonafide star at cornerback. However, the anchors for their defense were without question rushing off the edge in the form of rookie Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.
According to Pro Football Focus grades, Bosa and Ingram finished as the No. 5 and 6 best overall edge defenders in the entire league, respectively, last season. Not only were they able to generate a consistent and lethal pass rush, but were also stout against the run — something that’s not a given for edge defenders with so much focus put on getting after the quarterback.
Perhaps the craziest part of their dominance as a duo, though, was that McCoy largely held Bosa back during his rookie season. That wasn’t necessarily a bad call as he reported late to training camp after a holdout and then suffered a minor setback. However, it did limit his snaps throughout the season. But that still didn’t stop him from submitting a Defensive Rookie of the Year performance.
With a new head coach in Anthony Lynn and a year of experience under his belt, Bosa figures to be unleashed more frequently in the 2017 season. What’s more, Ingram is back in the fold after being hit with the franchise tag early in the offseason. As they return together coming off such dominant 2016 campaigns, is it crazy to wonder if they become the best pass-rushing duo in the NFL?
Obviously they have pretty stiff competition when looking at edge rusher tandems in the league. Jason Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon of the New York Giants have a claim to submit. Meanwhile, Jadeveon Clowney and Whitney Mercilus of the Houston Texans along with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin on the Oakland Raiders probably have stronger claims. But in terms of overall dominance by both players, there’s reason to believe that Bosa and Ingram can be even better.
When you consider that Ingram has progressed in each of the past four seasons, he’s certainly hitting his prime. Couple that with the immediate dominance that Bosa displayed and then add a year of growth to that, the Chargers tandem could be downright frightening for opposing offenses in the 2017 season.
For the Chargers to compete in the stout AFC West, two things have to happen. First, they have to stay healthy — which is admittedly out of their control to a degree. Secondly, though, their offense has to fill out the holes in the draft, most notably on the offensive line and at wide receiver. But as for the pass rush and the defense, they have a duo in Bosa and Ingram that can be great. They may not be the best pass rushing duo in the NFL right now, and may not reach that height in 2017. However, it’s quite possible they do, which is a great building block for the Chargers.