The Chargers Defensive Line: Week 6
The Chargers were upset by the lowly Denver Broncos on Sunday by a score of 20-13. However, there was a bright spot. Top draft pick Jerry Tillery recorded his first career solo sack and played the most amount of time he has played all season. Unfortunately, the rest of the defensive line could not muster the same level of urgency as they only notched one more sack. Plenty of work must be done if they hope to defeat the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday night.
Preview Vs The Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers’ offensive line is full of talent and potential. While they have struggled against elite defenses earlier this year, they are going up against a Chargers defensive line with a similar story.
Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva became famous two years ago when he was the only player on the roster to stand on the sidelines for the national anthem. The Army veteran is an imposing 6’9” 320 lbs and has been invited to two Pro Bowls
Ramon Foster lines up at left guard and can be an excellent road paver on the ground. He stands 6’5” 328 lbs.
Center Maurkice Pouncey is the most decorated and the most talented on the Steelers offensive line. He has been to seven Pro Bowls and has been named first-team All-Pro twice. He is a perfect size for an NFL center, standing 6’4” and weighing 304 lbs.
Right guard David DeCastro is the second most talented player on the Steelers offensive line. The Stanford product has gone to four Pro Bowls and has been named first-team All-Pro twice. He is an agile 6’5” 318 lbs.
Right tackle Matt Feiler is the most inexperienced of the Steelers offensive line. Since entering the league in 2014 he has only started 16 games. He has good size though, standing 6’5” and weighing an intimidating 330 lbs.
The Steelers have had a rough start to the 2019 season. They lost franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in their second game and they lost backup quarterback Mason Rudolph to a concussion three weeks later. With injuries such as these, their pass protection is a critical concern. However, their quarterbacks have only been sacked five times this season which is tied for first in the NFL for fewest sacks given up. They have only been hurried 25 times and hit just seven times this season.
The Steelers offensive line has done well in the past few years on the ground. However, last year’s success does not guarantee success this year. In their first five games of the season, they have only rushed for 335 yards, which is ranked 29th in the NFL.
On the other side of the line, the Chargers have allowed 599 yards rushing, which is ranked 18th in the NFL. For much of their illustrious history, the Steelers have prided themselves on a dominating running game but it is clear that they are not themselves this season.
Their leading rusher, James Conner, has carried the ball 58 times for just 194 yards, an abysmal 3.3 yards per carry. With Rudolph in concussion protocol, it is likely that the Steelers will be looking to Conner to carry the workload.
Review Vs The Denver Broncos
On the first play of the second quarter, quarterback Joe Flacco looked for an open receiver when the Chargers found an opportunity. While the defensive line tried in vain to reach Flacco, linebacker Uchenna Nwosu was able to strip Flacco of the ball.
The Chargers had very little pass rush to start the game but that began to change after half time. In the middle of the third quarter, the Broncos were deep within their own territory when that great Chargers pass rush came alive. Jerry Tillery sacked Flacco to stymie another Broncos scoring drive.
In the middle of the fourth quarter, the Broncos lined up at the Chargers 30-yard line and faced a critical 3rd-and-4. Joey Bosa ended that drive by sacking Flacco. The Broncos settled for a field goal attempt on the following play but the kicker missed his mark.
Early in the first quarter, the Broncos were at the Chargers’ four-yard line. The Chargers’ interior defensive line was outmuscled as running back Phillip Lindsay rumbled in for the touchdown.
Early in the first quarter, the Broncos were at midfield when they gave the ball to Lindsay. The Chargers’ defensive line promptly allowed him to run right through what was thought to be a physical unit for a 20 yard gain.
On the ensuing play, the Broncos once again gave the ball to Lindsay. This time he hesitated for a second before finding a hole on the edge and ripping off another first down with ease. All the while, the Chargers defensive line looked like mere spectators.
With two All-Pro’s, the Steelers have the most talented offensive line the Chargers have faced all year. However, both sides have been underperforming throughout much of the season and will be eager to return to their dominant ways. Defensive end Melvin Ingram sat out last week’s game with a hamstring injury and it has yet to be determined whether or not he will play on Sunday night. The Steelers offensive line is healthy and it should be fascinating to see how Jerry Tillery performs against the likes of Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro. Both units have been playing below expectations for much of the season and with this being a prime time game they know that the nation will be watching them.