So, here we are in week eight of the 2016 NFL football season. The San Diego Chargers have gone from our city’s greatest lament, to a beacon of hope for the future in a matter of about three weeks. What has happened?
Well, I personally think that during the first four weeks of the season the team was in an ongoing state of shock after losing several key components to the roster week after week. Week five was just a disaster due to some huge, inexcusable mistakes, and then things started shaping up in week six. I think that by week six, the young players began to understand that the team was theirs. They were it. They were no longer the backups, but rather had become the leading cast.
When this truth finally sunk in, the collective confidence level of the group began its rise. Several players have become the “next men up”. So far, we’ve seen it from guys like Hunter Henry, Tyrell Williams, Denzel Perryman, Jatavis Brown, and then, of course, the juggernaut that is Joey Bosa.
Now, while each of the players listed above have had some phenomenal moments, Joey Bosa has had the biggest impact because his exceptional skill has made everyone on the defensive side of the ball better. Not to mention he’s done it in a very short time frame. Bosa’s so good that he demands a lot of extra attention, opening things up for his teammates. Opponents attempt to get away from Bosa and end up running right into everyone else.
The reason this works well is because his capable teammates are taking advantage of the openings. Brown and Perryman have been great examples of that, and Melvin Ingram is looking better than he has in a long time. Really, everyone’s enjoying the ride. The offense benefits as a result of great defense because, of course, opponents put fewer points on the board and the offense has possession more often. The more time Philip Rivers has the ball, the better.
Bosa has played in three games so far. He made his first regular season debut in week five on October 9, against the Oakland Raiders. The Chargers lost that heart breaker 31-34, but Bosa looked good. He only played 27 of 71 defensive snaps, but finished the game with two sacks, a quarterback hit, and four hurries. It should also be noted that Oakland has a good offensive line. They have allowed just nine sacks and 15 quarterback hurries all season long. Bosa is responsible for about 25 percent of the sacks that line has allowed all season. So it was a very impressive showing, but was it a fluke?
The Chargers were on a short week going into the Thursday Night Football matchup against the Denver Broncos in week six. Bosa saw a lot more action, finishing the game with a quarterback hit, five hurries, and one stop while drawing double teams throughout the game. He was just outright disruptive. The Charger defensive unit showed up the Broncos, and the Bolts won 21-13, getting their first division win since 2014.
Week seven provided the next challenge for the Chargers; to win a road game. They came away with a big victory against the formidable Atlanta Falcons, 33-30 in overtime. Bosa showed off his abilities again, pulling off two sacks on back-to-back drives; one late in the third, the other early in the fourth. He also had five tackles. By now, anyone who may have been skeptical about Bosa might have to face the increasing likelihood that he is the real deal. Check out one of his sacks below in the following Vine. He is relentless going after the quarterback.
Joey Bosa looking like a stud. Relentless motor and drive to the QB. Great things in store for this young m… https://t.co/bJy0s0b0Ch
— East Village Times (@EVT_News) October 23, 2016
To put it all together, here’s his season so far. Joey Bosa has four sacks and nine tackles. He has 20 quarterback pressures in his first three games. He has the most sacks in three games by a rookie since Elvis Dumervil did it in 2006. In fact, Bosa has more sacks than any Charger rookie ever has in three games. He’s seen 128 total plays so far and is tied for the team lead in sacks with Ingram, who has seen 418 plays. Here’s some more perspective: Von Miller generates a quarterback pressure once every 5.2 pass rushing snaps. Bosa does it every 4.7. He has a run stop percentage of 9.7, which is also higher than Von Miller’s. Pro Football Focus has given Bosa a grade 86 through his first three games, which makes him the second highest edge rusher in the NFL. He’s on the way to the Rookie of the Year conversation to be sure.
There is the argument that if Bosa had played the first four games of the season the Chargers’ record would look very different. That may be true. The three games that they lost were by an average of just 3.7 points. The impact that Bosa has made could have been the factor that the Chargers needed to get those crucial stops in weeks one through four. Is it all on the Chargers for holding out on Bosa’s contract during training camp? I honestly don’t know. That certainly didn’t help. While there’s the possibility that Bosa missing most of camp increased the likelihood of the hamstring injury that sidelined him until week five, it’s not definite. It is fathomable that the injury could have occurred no matter what, but not probable. At the least, all of this should be a learning experience for the Chargers. Maybe they will be more pragmatic with player signings and at least make sure they make it to camp at some reasonable point in future dealings. It wouldn’t hurt to just pay players that are worth being paid.
Joey Bosa is an exciting and impacting addition to the Chargers. Sometimes I just sit back and recognize how lucky Charger fans are to have an elite talent on the team, like Philip Rivers is. What an honor it is to get to watch and take pride in one of the greatest as our own. Growing up, I had Junior Seau. I can’t help but wonder if maybe Bosa will give us an extension of that same experience as his career unfolds. He looks like a gem so far and I’m hoping that it continues on. Let’s see him take on the Broncos again on Sunday in week eight.