Believe it or not, the San Diego Chargers have a good defense. Last season, they ranked 9th in the NFL in yards allowed per game and 16th for points allowed per game. These aren’t perennial rankings, but there is no reason that this defense wont be better this upcoming season. Some veterans were released and Melvin Ingram was placed on the IR, but the younger the talent will improve substantially and key additions were made to the roster.
Here is a predicted starting lineup for the San Diego Chargers defense:
Defensive Ends: Corey Liuget (Left), Kendall Reyes (Right)
This young defensive end duo will become a real problem for offensive lines everywhere. Liuget is already projected to become a breakout star this season and Kendall Reyes has showed moments of promise as well. With both players at 23 years old, this pass rushing unit could develop into an elite sacking duo in the next few years. According to the ESPN blog, Liuget and Reyes are ranked numbers 1 and 4 (respectively) in the AFC West for linemen.
Defensive Tackle: Cam Thomas
Cam Thomas has not yet proven himself to be a starting nose tackle in the NFL. Currently ranked 14 in the AFC West for defensive linemen by ESPN, he isn’t expected to be a star this season either. He is still developing, but the 26 year old is the weakness point on the line. This season he will probably become a solid starter, but probably not much more.
Outside Linebackers: Dwight Freeney (Left), Jarrett Johnson (Right)
Both of these veteran linebackers will prove to be at least effective this season. The two don’t have many years left in the tank, but should still be productive for this one. There is even a small chance that Dwight Freeney returns to classic form and reclaims his title of sack master.
Middle Linebackers: Donald Butler and Manti Te’o
The middle linebacker combination in San Diego is the best in the AFC West. Donald Butler has been improving dramatically each season he has been on the team. That combined with the potential front-runner for defensive rookie of the year, Te’o, is scary to think about. Especially with Butler to learn from, Te’o could prove just as effective in the NFL.
Cornerbacks: Derek Cox and Marcus Gilchrist
Derek Cox is a good cornerback. He will help out this secondary tremendously as well as make a few big time plays. The problem is, Marcus Gilchrist is not a proven player. He is young and has potential, but he has never had to really play against the better receivers in the NFL because he was the third corner on the roster. There are also rumors that he might move to Strong Safety if Brandon Taylor isn’t healthy. If that scenario comes to fruition, Shareece Wright will start, a corner with such little playing experience he hasn’t even recorded an interception yet.
Safeties: Eric Weddle (Free Safety) and Brandon Taylor (Strong Safety)
Eric Weddle is an All-Star safety. As long as he is healthy, he will be productive and lead the Bolts’ defense. If he goes down with an injury, the Chargers lose pretty much all of their voltage. Brandon Taylor is a defensive back that shows a lot of promise. The Bolts camp figures him to be the strong safety for the future. It just isn’t that clear how they figured that out with him only being healthy for 4 games in his career. However, we should give the coaches the benefit of the doubt on this one, as their job is to recognize player’s potential.
Overall, the defense is pretty strong up front and questionable in the secondary. The Chargers should do a great job this season stopping the run and putting pressure on the quarterback. However, if the secondary is not able to lock down on their receivers the Chargers will be in big trouble. With Peyton Manning and the Broncos in the division, this weakness may become a fatal flaw.