So now that it’s official and Dwight Freeney is trading in horseshoes for lightning bolts on the sides of his helmet this autumn, examining his potential impact with the San Diego Chargers seems like a valid topic of conversation. It’s already been discussed how the Bolts will need to custom fit their typical base 3-4 defensive alignment for the smaller, faster Freeney who prefers to pin his ears back and get after the quarterback as opposed to dropping into coverage. Perhaps the most pressing question is just what can fans expect numbers-wise from the now 33 year old pass rusher?
First of all, the two-year $8.75 million deal is an acceptable number for a player of Freeney’s age and productivity. The Bolts will likely tailor their defense to fit the veteran situationally, but he will by no means be an every-down type of player as he was during the majority of his time with the Indianapolis Colts. His role will be a 25-30 snaps per game type of player brought in on primarily passing downs so that his only objective play after play is to get after the quarterback.
And that’s a good thing for the Chargers given Freeney’s 107.5 career sacks which suggests a real knack for taking opposing signal callers to the turf. 2012 was a tough year for the usually productive player who struggled to fit into the new scheme with the Colts and only notched five total sacks on the season. His role with the Chargers will allow him to have a bounce back year where he hopes to have plenty of opportunities to rush the pass with Bolts QB Philip Rivers building leads on offense.
Even though the Chargers are in rebuild mode after the past three years of watching the playoffs from home, the team still needs veterans in the locker room to bring this young group together. New Head Coach Mike McCoy conveyed that opinion in a quote from NFL.com saying:
“It’s great to add a solid veteran who brings valuable experience to our defense. His proven pass rush ability is a perfect fit for our defense.”
After Melvin Ingram’s torn ACL in minicamp, it seemed like only a matter of time before the team added to what quickly became a weak looking area of the roster. There is plenty of excitement in San Diego concerning this move, but it seems like the recent signee is just as pumped about his new abode.
This marriage has success written all over it. The Chargers have found another veteran to add into a locker room sorely in need of some fresh leadership while Freeney has a place where he can use his skills to the best of his abilities in 2013. Look for a return to the double-digit sack club is Freeney can stay healthy throughout the upcoming season.