Total Defense: 9th (334.8 YPG)
Passing Defense: 8th (227.3 YPG)
Rushing Defense: 13th (107.5 YPG)
Points Allowed Per Game: 4th (19.9 PPG)
The Chargers operate out of a base 4-3, and their success starts with two incredible studs playing at defensive end: Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. When fully healthy, the two create one of the best pass-rush duos in the league. Isaac Rochell has 4.5 sacks to his name as a pass-rusher, second only to Ingram, who has tallied 5.5 thus far. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane will miss Sunday’s game with a non-injury related designation, clearing the way for Damion Square to make the start Sunday night. Darius Philon starts next to Square to round out a defensive line that allows 4.4 yards per carry.
Jatavis Brown is currently second on the team in tackles (60), and headlines LA’s linebacking corps that includes Uchenna Nwosu and a strong mixture of other linebackers including Hayes Pullard and Kyle Emanuel. With the Chargers primarily using only two linebackers, it’s clear LA favors running a nickel package (4 linemen, 2 linebackers, 5 defensive backs) and rotating their linebackers frequently.
Their secondary is decorated with talent, yet potential defensive rookie of the year Derwin James has been nothing short of phenomenal thus far, leading the team in tackles (78) and passes defended (9). James can be found everywhere on the field, bringing a physical presence while tackling and also possessing the ability to make intelligent plays in the secondary as well.
Jahleel Addae starts opposite of James, and also finds himself atop the charts in terms of tackles. In short, LA’s safeties are as active as you’ll see across the league. Adrian Phillips also will see some time on the field, acting as the team’s rotational safety. Casey Heyward and Michael Davis act as the team’s starting corners, with Desmond King and Trevor Williams receiving playing time as well. This defensive backfield allows just a 87.4 passer rating to opposing quarterbacks.
Gus Bradley currently mans the Chargers defense, and is currently in his second season doing so. LA touts a talented and stingy defense in all facets of their depth chart, giving up less than 20 points per game. Will LA copy division rival Denver’s gameplan and take their chances with JuJu Smith-Schuster doing the damage rather than Antonio Brown? Bradley keeps his guys fresh by rotating properly and surely has some other tricks up his sleeve to slow down the Steelers offense.