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The Chargers Defensive Line: Week 2

The Los Angeles Chargers began the 2019 season with a thrilling 30-24 overtime win over the Indianapolis Colts. However, the Chargers defensive line did not perform well and allowed the Colts to stay in the game. They allowed running back Marlon Mack to run wild, and quarterback Jacoby Brissett had a clean pocket all day. The Chargers defensive line has not hit it’s stride yet but perhaps it can perform better against the Detroit Lions this Sunday.

Preview Vs The Detroit Lions

The Lions have a decent run game but their main attack is through the air with quarterback Matthew Stafford. All elite quarterbacks need a stable presence at left tackle and Stafford has that in Taylor Decker. Since being drafted in 2016 he has started 40 games. Standing 6’7” and weighing 311 lbs, he is good size but could put on a bit more weight.

Left guard Joe Dahl has only started four games since being drafted in 2016. He is physically gifted, having run a 5.00 in the 40-yard dash and lifting 28 reps on the bench press at the NFL Combine.

Center Frank Ragnow was drafted in the first round last year and has started every game since. What is worthy of note is that he started every game last year at left guard. This is his first professional year at center, having played the position in college.

Right guard Graham Glasgow is the third starter on the Lions offensive line to have been drafted in 2016. He has started in 43 out of 47 games in his career.

Right tackle Rick Wagner is the oldest of the offensive line, having been drafted in 2013. He started his career in Baltimore before moving to Detroit in 2017. He has not been to a Pro Bowl but he was a part of a Wisconsin program which generated multiple offensive linemen for the NFL.

Review Vs The Indianapolis Colts

The Good

The Chargers only recorded two sacks but both sacks came courtesy of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. In the first quarter, Ingram was lined up against right guard Mark Glowinski. Ingram quickly made a move and charged through the line virtually untouched for the season’s first sack.

Early in the second half, the Chargers had been manhandling on the opening drive when Bosa pressured Brissett into an incompletion.

Late in the third quarter, Bosa beat right tackle Braden Smith for his first sack of the season.

The Bad

Early in the second quarter, the Colts faced 2nd and four. Marlon Mack found enough room on the right side of the Chargers defensive line to gain the first down.

Later on the same drive, the Colts were deep in the Chargers red zone. The Chargers could not get a pass rush and Brissett had all day to throw a touchdown pass to receiver T.Y. Hilton.

The Ugly

Late in the first half, the Colts were in a two-minute drill. The Chargers defensive line could not pressure the quarterback who kept on throwing quick strikes to set up a field goal which was ultimately missed as time expired on the half.

On the first snap of the second half, the Chargers were physically beaten as the offensive line paved the way for a bruising 25-yard gain. No matter what they did, the Chargers could not match the Colts physicality on the ground to start the half.

The Chargers could not learn their lesson soon enough. On the following drive, Mack gutted them for an embarrassing 63 yard touchdown run up the middle of the line.

Final Thoughts

The key to winning this matchup within the trenches is physicality. Neither team displayed great effort in that area in their respective first games of the year. The Lions offensive line can hold their own without facing a blitz package but they tend to fall apart when they start seeing blitzes. Stafford was stripped twice of the football due to this weakness. Unfortunately for the Chargers, their linebackers lack the athleticism the Cardinals showed against the Lions.

As has been stated earlier, the Chargers defensive line was routinely pushed around on the ground against the Colts. When the game was finished, Marlin Mack had rushed 25 times for 174 yards and one touchdown. Seven yards per carry typically means doom for a defense but the Chargers offense came through when it mattered most.

The Lions rely mostly on the arm of franchise quarterback Matthew Stafford and their run game did little against the Cardinals front seven, averaging a little more than three yards per carry between their two primary running backs. However, the Chargers should not look past Kerryon Johnson and C.J. Anderson who have each had good performances in previous years.

Football is a physical game and the team who is more physical within the trenches is often at a greater advantage at victory. Neither team was particularly physical in their opening games. The ultimate question for this matchup is: which side will wake up from their slumber and dominate within the trenches?

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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