NFL

Joey Bosa Is Key To Surging Chargers Defense

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Over the last few weeks, one thought has come to mind any time you watch San Diego Chargers rookie Joey Bosa play.

What if the Chargers had him in camp?

What if the Chargers front office—which has had its fair share of contract issues—had not balked at paying his rookie bonus to him when he wanted it?

Looking at his first games, you have to imagine it would have made a big difference.

Over the course of three games, Bosa has notched four sacks, nine solo tackles and a pair of assists. The Chargers are getting what they wanted out of him when the drafted him—a guy they can move around without losing the pressure he can generate at any one spot.

The Chargers have moved Bosa around a bit, usually putting him on the right or left edge of the defense, but also moving him inside in four and five man fronts on occasion as well. While most draft analysis said he lacked pure speed off the edge, he’s shown some very good burst and his first step has a lot of tackles and tight ends stepping backwards to catch up.

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image via NFL Game Pass

As you can see in the above screen-capture, Bosa gets the tackle on his heels very rapidly, and is around him before the lineman can recover. As an offensive lineman, it’s bad news when you have to turn around and have your back to the rest of the defense—it means you’re beat. In this case the result was a sack by Bosa and quite often the best case scenario when he beats you off the edge like that—which is happening with frequency—is he pressures the quarterback.

When the speed isn’t working, or if he is going inside, Bosa has the strength to bull rush through blockers and makes a lot of tackles through sheer will, strength and effort.

Bosa often gets used in stunts as well, and to good effect.

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image via NFL Game Pass

A great example of this happened in the 31-13 win against the Denver Broncos. On the play, Bosa set up to the left of the defensive line and at the snap took one step forward, then immediately slanted behind defensive tackle Caraun Reed. The tackle in front of Bosa passed him off instead of mirroring the pull, and looked upfield, presumably for a late blitzing safety or linebacker. Meanwhile, Denver’s center was helping the guard with Reed and also did not stop to track Bosa.

On the other side of the center, the left guard was engaged with nose tackle Brandon Mebane.

That left Bosa with a clear shot up the middle, where he could force Siemian to throw a second earlier than he wanted, missing his receiver.

Those plays, even more than the sacks and tackles, are what you have to think the Chargers sacrificed by being hard-headed in negotiations.  Late-game losses to the Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints, and Indianapolis Colts all might have been avoided with plays like the ones Bosa brings to the table.

Would it be a sure thing? Of course not, but looking at the impact he has had since showing up, including in the loss to the Raiders.

Bosa has a long way to go and there is a lot of season left. It could be once teams begin adjusting to him that his impact decreases. However, we’re seeing a lot to like in his game right now and think the best for him is yet to come as long as the team keeps putting him in winning situations and he keeps working like he has so far.


About Andrew Garda

Andrew Garda is a freelance writer primarily covering NFL football, with frequent side trips to everything else. A member of the Pro Football Writers Association, he is a contributing writer for Sports on Earth and Pro Football Weekly. He also covers fantasy for Footballguys.com. Garda is the host of the At the Whistle podcast and has been credentialed for many NFL drafts, Senior Bowls, pro days and various NFL events.