The first thing that stands out about this Chargers defense is its ability to get after the passer. The Chargers rank second in the league in sacks with 11 entering Week 4. This isn't a high-volume pressure scheme, however. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, the former head coach in Jacksonville and previously a Super Bowl defensive coordinator for Pete Carroll in Seattle, believes in a four-man rush with a primarily zone-based coverage scheme on the back end.
Off the edge, the Chargers have two former first-round picks in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. Bosa is every bit as good as he was billed to be coming out of Ohio State in 2016. The first non-quarterback selected and the third overall pick after Jared Goff and Carson Wentz, Bosa played in 12 games last year and racked up 10.5 sacks. He has two more through three games this year. He's insanely active with his hands and finds ways to beat offensive linemen on every down. He lines up outside, inside, sometimes on the same side as Gordon, and can win with both speed and power.
Shot 1 - Must account for Joey Bosa, who looks just as disruptive as he was at Ohio St. Relentlessly attacks OL w/ hands. Tough assignment pic.twitter.com/gbtzGbXBHQ — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) September 28, 2017
Bosa gets upfield quickly and stresses the right tackle on this rep from this preseason. When a tackle gets stressed, he often struggles to execute a block with proper technique. Bosa is able to get inside his pads and win on the outside shoulder, ripping past the blocker and getting the ball out for a sack-fumble. The ball is scooped up by Ingram and it's a touchdown for the Chargers.
Bosa quickly wipes the hands of the right tackle away on the next play showing how quick and fluid he is with his hands. He wins inside and brings the back down behind the line of scrimmage. Bosa primarily lines up on the offense's right side, so he'll be matched up for most of this game against Lane Johnson. It will be a strong battle between two former top-four draft picks.
On the other side, Ingram is an effective pass rusher in his own right. The AFC Defensive Player of the Month of September currently leads the conference with 5.5 sacks. There are some similarities between Ingram and Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham. Both rushers have motors that never stop and are able to win with both speed and power (though Graham wins more with the latter and Ingram has a bit more of the former). Bosa and Ingram complement each other very well.
Shot 2 - Melvin Ingram can win with speed. More importantly he converts speed to power as well as any pass rusher int he NFL #Chargers pic.twitter.com/iSYn01XOXP — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) September 28, 2017
Ingram showcases his ability to win with speed on the first shot, dipping his shoulder past the left tackle and accelerating on his way to the quarterback. He converts speed to power on the second rep against the right tackle. He bench presses the blocker into the quarterback and brings Alex Smith to the ground.
The Chargers do a lot to get Bosa and Ingram in advantageous positions. Whether they're lined up out wide or if they play with the alignment of the interior linemen, the Chargers create great opportunities for them to produce.
Shot 3 - #Chargers like to put Bosa and Ingram on the same side. Very effective running stunts. Get KC with 'E-T stunt' for a sack pic.twitter.com/TuUSQ5ROle — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) September 28, 2017
Here's a great example of that against Kansas City. This is an E-T stunt from the Chargers. Ingram is lined up against the right guard and Bosa over the right tackle. It's not uncommon to see them on the same side of the formation. Bosa rushes the inside shoulder of the tackle, and his job is to pin that guard inside. This allows Ingram to loop around the edge and get home free for a sack. They're very good with their timing on stunts, and that shows up on this play.
The Chiefs actually slid their protection AWAY from Ingram and Bosa. That seems a bit crazy at first glance, and very well could have been a busted protection. If the "slide" call was put to the right side, the tackle likely would have been in position to block Ingram looping his way.
It's also possible that Kansas City didn't want defensive tackle Corey Liuget (No. 94) matched up one-on-one on an island with the left guard. Liuget is capable of being a pretty disruptive player on the inside when he plays with good leverage. He has made plenty of plays in this league both as a pass rusher and as a run defender.
Shot 4 - #Chargers DT Corey Liuget is also very disruptive. Drops his anchor and splits this double as well as you can here for a TFL pic.twitter.com/QJQxtdCQSk — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) September 28, 2017
The Dolphins try to double-team Liuget here on this run play, and he splits it about as well as you can as a 3-technique tackle. Liuget drops to one knee, stays balanced, and gets skinny between the two blockers, showing the athleticism to stay under control and tackle the back behind the line of scrimmage for a short loss.
Shot 5 - NT Brandon Mebane is strong and stout against the run and he is making high-motor plays in pursuit in every game #Chargers pic.twitter.com/2TF0XurWJ6 — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) September 28, 2017
Next to Liuget inside is nose tackle Brandon Mebane, who played for Bradley in Seattle. Mebane is extremely stout, and while he's not a full-time player at this stage of his career he's very disruptive. He is another guy on that front who just never stops. He's made some great plays in pursuit this year, and is capable of being a disruptor in the run game with how strong and powerful he is at the point of attack.
The Chargers utilize a pretty heavy rotation at linebacker, but second-year man Jatavis Brown is the full-time player. No. 57 is always on the field for the Bolts. He's always around the football with his aggressive style and impressive speed in the open field. Korey Toomer (No. 56) and Hayes Pullard (No. 50) rotate alongside him, while strongside linebacker Kyle Emanuel gets plenty of reps as well in underneath zone coverage.
In the secondary, the Chargers are missing one of the most talented corners in the NFL with Jason Verrett, who was recently put on Injured Reserve. They signed Casey Hayward away from Green Bay last year, and he's a really solid player who can play both outside and inside. He has played at a high level in this league. Opposite him is Trevor Williams, a young veteran with length and aggressiveness who fits what Bradley looks for on the outside.
I've been a fan of the slot cornerback for a long time. He didn't go as high in the draft as many thought he would a year ago at this time, but he's already emerged as a potential playmaker for the Chargers in their nickel subpackage. That player is rookie Desmond King out of Iowa.
Shot 6 - Rookie Desmond King has transitioned easily to the slot. Aggressive, instinctive and well-rounded. Will be a good player for them pic.twitter.com/IM1eS0Jubt — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) September 28, 2017
King played mostly on the outside for the Hawkeyes, but he got plenty of reps in the slot helping his transition to that role. He's quicker than fast, extremely competitive, instinctive, and tough. On this play against Denver, King recognizes this screen pass and creates the interception by knocking the ball up in the air. He's undersized, but King is a good football player who the Eagles have to keep an eye on at every level of the field.
At safety, the Chargers have two like-minded players in Jahleel Addae and Tre Boston. Both safeties are aggressive downhill, sometimes to a fault, and have the ability to make plays in the intermediate area of the field.
Shot 7 - #Chargers safeties are constantly attacking. Jahleel Addae more in the box, Tre Boston is the post player in Cover 3 scheme pic.twitter.com/rbkIFyDdsc — Fran Duffy (@fduffy3) September 28, 2017
Addae tackles the running back for a loss on the first play, showing off his aggressiveness and discipline in the flat. In the second play against the Broncos, Boston flashes his play-recognition skills as he flies downhill against an in-breaking route and dislodges the ball on third down to force a punt.
This is an aggressive Chargers defense that plays angry and attacks the football on every down at every level of the field. The Chargers' scheme is not complicated, unlike New York's a week ago. Expect a lot of Cover 3 with more Cover 2 on third down from the Chargers. Los Angeles relies on quality execution and playing fast, which has proven to be a winning defensive formula in recent years. The Eagles have to block up Bosa, Ingram, and Liuget up front, and give quarterback Carson Wentz an opportunity to find the voids in Los Angeles' zone coverage schemes in order to win this game. Don't be surprised to see plays that prey on that aggressive scheme too, whether that's screens, draws, trap runs, and misdirection pass plays to create mismatches down the field.
Fran Duffy is the producer of "Eagles Game Plan" which can be seen on Saturdays during the season. Be sure to also check out the "Eagle Eye In The Sky" podcast on the Philadelphia Eagles podcast channel on iTunes. Prior to joining the Eagles in 2011, Duffy was the head video coordinator for the Temple University Football team under former head coach Al Golden. In that role, he spent thousands of hours shooting, logging and assisting with the breakdown of the All-22 film from the team's games, practices and opponents.