The Chargers Defensive Line: Week 4
The Los Angeles Chargers lost a close contest to the Houston Texans 27-20. While they were successful against a weak ground game, they could only muster two sacks. As a result, quarterback Deshaun Watson threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns. The Chargers defensive line must not lose hope while going into next week against a weak Miami Dolphins team.
Preview vs the Miami Dolphins
Rookie Michael Deiter is at left guard after an All-American senior season at Wisconsin. His size is virtually identical to Davis at 6’6” 328 lbs.
Daniel Kilgore starts at center and he may be the best of their offensive linemen. He started at center for the 49ers from 2014 to 2017. The 49ers traded him to the Dolphins when they signed free agent Weston Richburg. Kilgore is a good size for a center, standing 6’3” and weighing 308 lbs. He started the first four games of 2018 before tearing his triceps.
Rookie Deion Calhoun starts at right guard. He is good size standing 6’3” and weighing 320 lbs. He is strong, having benched 26 reps at the NFL combine.
Right tackle Isaiah Prince is the second rookie to start on the Dolphins offensive line. The Ohio State product is great size for a right tackle, standing 6’7” and weighing 310 lbs.
Review vs the Houston Texans
Early in the first quarter, Watson ran a play-action while Joey Bosa tore through left tackle Laremy Tunsil and left guard Max Scharping. Although Bosa was unable to record a sack he was able to force a fumble which was recovered by Desmond King.
Early in the third quarter, the Texans faced 2nd-and-8 from the Chargers 44-yard line. Bosa and Melvin Ingram did a great job in containing Watson who was forced to scramble up the middle. Nose tackle Brandon Mebane met Watson and brought him down for a sack.
In the middle of the fourth quarter, the Texans were at their own 37-yard line. Bosa fought hard and was able to collect the sack, ending the drive.
On the last play from scrimmage of the first half, the Texans were desperately trying to get within field goal range. Defensive tackle Justin Jones gave a valiant effort but the combination of Tytus Howard’s blocking and Watson’s athleticism caused him to whiff on a potential sack. Watson was able to complete a long pass to set up a last-second field goal to end the half.
In the middle of the third quarter, the Texans faced 1st-and-goal from the Chargers 3-yard line. Running back Carlos Hyde barreled up the middle for a touchdown with various Chargers defenders bouncing off of him.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Texans faced 2nd-and-3 from their own 25-yard line. Hyde ran to the right before shifting gears and running to the left. Melvin Ingram was in pursuit the whole time but was too slow to prevent him from picking up a first down.
On the Texans second drive of the game, they faced 3rd-and-14 from their own 21-yard line. The defensive line rushed well from the right but struggled on the left and was unable to contain Watson within the pocket. Watson was then able to use his legs to gain the first down.
In the middle of the second quarter, the Texans were deep within the Chargers territory. The Chargers defensive line did not even give an average effort in trying to pressure Watson. He had all day to throw the first of three touchdown passes in the game. No Charger was within five yards of him.
Early in the fourth quarter, the Texans were at their own 47-yard line. Ingram wrapped his arms around Watson and appeared to have him in a sack but Watson muscled his way out of that predicament. He then proceeded to complete the pass for a touchdown.
On paper, the Chargers defensive line should dominate this game. The Dolphins are the weakest team in the NFL and their inexperience on the offensive line is a major reason why they have been blown out in every game this season. Two rookie starters on the offensive line is often a recipe for disaster and the early part of the season is proof of that theory.
However, the Chargers have struggled with physicality throughout this young season. Last week may have been a turning point in that area as they were constantly in the backfield but Watson kept on getting out of bad situations. Watson is a premier scrambler which is not the case for either of the Dolphins quarterbacks.
The Dolphins can be exposed from the edges and that is where the Chargers thrive. As long as Bosa and Ingram play to their expected levels, then this should be another blowout.
However, this could be a trap game as all of the Dolphins rookie starters are trying to start careers in the NFL. They want to make a name for themselves and they have something to prove. If the Chargers play down to their level then this game may be closer than anticipated.