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The Chargers Defensive Line: Week 15

The Chargers put together their most complete game of the season against the Jaguars this past Sunday. The offense was stellar and the defense held star running back Leonard Fournette to a mere 50 yards in the 45-10 blowout. The Chargers must keep up this momentum if they hope to defeat the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.

Review Vs The Jaguars

The Good

Early in the second quarter, the Jaguars faced 3rd-and-3 from their own 38-yard line. Defensive end Joey Bosa was able to sack quarterback Gardner Minshew to end the drive. 

In the middle of the fourth quarter, the Jaguars faced 2nd-and-3 from their own 38-yard line. Minshew had nowhere to go and was sacked by Bosa.

The Bad

Early in the first quarter, the Jaguars faced 2nd-and-9 from the 50-yard line. Fournette ran up the middle for a 10 yard gain.

A few plays later, the Jaguars faced 3rd-and-9 from the 10-yard line. Minshew was pressured from all sides but was able to escape and ran for a two-yard gain. The Jaguars settled for a field goal.

Early in the second quarter, the Jaguars faced 3rd-and-4 from their own 29-yard line. Minshew was pressured out of the pocket and successfully scrambled for the first down.

Late in the second quarter, the Jaguars faced 2nd-and-2 from their own 35-yard line. Fournette barreled his way up the middle for the first down.

The Ugly

In the middle of the third quarter, the Jaguars faced 1st-and-10 from the Chargers 12-yard line. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane had Minshew in his grasp but the quarterback made a quick step and got away. Minshew then threw a touchdown pass to tight end Nick O’Leary.

Preview Vs The Vikings

The Vikings have one of the most balanced offensive attacks in the NFL. Running back Dalvin Cook ranks fourth in the NFL with 1,108 rushing yards, averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He has rushed for 20 or more yards nine times this season.

Quarterback Kirk Cousins has been protected well all season and has been sacked just 23 times which is the 24th best in the NFL. Due to this protection, he has been able to complete 70.1% of his passes. Their offensive line has done a wonderful job at guiding this balanced attack and will be a handful as the Vikings need to beat the Chargers in order to stay in the playoff picture.

Riley Reiff starts at left tackle and has been a solid contributor since 2017. He stands 6’6” and weighs 305 lbs.

Pat Elflein starts at left guard and looks like a promising career is just around the corner. He came to the Vikings after a stellar career at Ohio State where he was voted as a Unanimous All-American and was awarded the Rimington Trophy. Following his rookie season in 2017, he was named to the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie Team. He is a good size for a guard, standing 6’3” and weighing 303 lbs.

Center Garrett Bradbury is the Vikings’ second Rimington Trophy recipient. The 2019 first-round pick out of North Carolina State has started every game of his young career. He is the perfect size for a center, standing 6’3” and weighing 306 lbs.

Right guard Josh Kline has had quite a career. After going undrafted in 2013, he was picked up by the New England Patriots and won the Super Bowl the following year. After spending three years with the Titans organization, he signed with the Vikings in 2019 as a free agent. He stands 6’3” and weighs 300 lbs.

Right tackle Brian O’Neill has started 24 games for the Vikings since being drafted in 2018. He stands 6’7” and weighs 300 lbs.

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Final Thoughts

The Chargers have struggled against the run all season but they showed their potential last Sunday when they held the Jaguars lethal ground attack to just 88 yards. However, it should be noted that the Jaguars had already been eliminated from playoffs contention and therefore had nothing to play for.

On the flip side, the Vikings are in the thick of the playoff race and need this win much more than the Jaguars did. Cousins is not as mobile as Minshew and can be taken down with a good pass rush. Those 23 sacks the Vikings have given up are good, but not great, and their talented offensive line can be exposed against a dominant pass rush. They gave up six sacks against the Bears in Week 4, however, they have been playing better in recent weeks. Two weeks ago they did not give up a sack against a lethal Seattle pass rush.

Anything can happen in this game and if the Chargers hope to win then they must get to Cousins and stop Cook.

David Hegler

Author David Hegler

BS in Business Management from Azusa Pacific University. Fanatical 49er fan. Avid fan of all Bay Area sports teams.

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