The San Diego Chargers should improve on defense in 2012
The San Diego Chargers ranked 13th against the pass, 20th against the run and 16th overall on defense during the 2011 NFL season. San Diego’s inability to put pressure on quarterbacks was a huge problem. San Diego was tied for 23rd in the league with 32 sacks, and were 30th among teams recording only seven sacks when they sent five or more rushers. Antwan Barnes was tied for 11th in the league with 11 sacks, but the rest of his teammates were non factors as Cam Thomas, Shaun Phillips and Tommie Harris were second, third and fourth on San Diego in sacks and they combined for 10.5 in this category. Phillips fought through an injury which caused him to miss four games and recorded at least seven sacks in every season from 2005-2010, so he could return to form.
The Lightning Bolts added former South Carolina Gamecocks defensive end Melvin Ingram in round one of the 2012 NFL Draft. Ingram recorded nine sacks in 12 games during the 2010 season and 10 sacks in 13 games last season. He could be a much needed threat for San Diego’s pass rush. San Diego was tied for sixth as they surrendered 15 rushing attempts of at least 20 yards in 2011. Former Connecticut Huskies defensive tackle Kendall Reyes and former Louisiana State Tigers strong safety Brandon Taylor were added in rounds two and three of the draft to help San Diego improve their run defense.
San Diego’s rank against the pass in 2011 appears to be good from the outside looking in, but they had the third fewest pass attempts against them in the NFL. Former All-Pro and four time Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel tied for the league lead with 10 interceptions in 2006 for the New England Patriots and tied for the league lead in INTs with nine during the 2009 season as a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. I thought San Diego might acquire Samuel when news broke that Philly was shopping him, but the Atlanta Falcons traded a seventh round pick on April 25th to get Samuel. If Ingram and Barnes can get pressure on QBs, it might be enough to help their pass defense when players are beat in coverage.