It seems as if all the so-called “experts” don’t believe Dwight Freeney can still get it done with the San Diego Chargers. They cite his age and his mediocre statistics from last season as an indication that Freeney is done and won’t be able to do much to improve the Chargers’ pass rush this season. However, though it’s early, Freeney is well on his way to proving his doubters wrong.
Freeney looked great in his first game action with the Chargers against the Seattle Seahawks in the team’s preseason opener. He was only on the field for seven plays, but recorded two QB hurries on five pass rushes, according to Pro Football Focus. He showed that he still has many tricks up his sleeve to get to the quarterback, once with a powerful bull rush and another with his patented spin move. Both pressures forced Russell Wilson to run out of the pocket and improvise.
Yes, it may be just a small sample size, but Freeney’s production in the pass rushing department has been great throughout his whole career. Yes, even in 2012 with the Indianapolis Colts when statistics say he had a down year in his first season in the 3-4 defense.
Freeney may have only been able to finish off the quarterback five times in 2012, the second-lowest sack total of his 11-year career. However, he still generated 33 QB hurries and 9 QB hits on the season. He did this despite being bothered by a high-ankle sprain he suffered in the season opener. As he got healthier, his production improved, recording one sack in each of the final three games of the season.
Now with more experience in the 3-4, Freeney should be even more prepared mentally. The Bolts will also utilize some 4-3 looks and allow Freeney to play in his more natural defensive end position.
The Chargers coaching staff will adapt their defense to Freeney’s strengths and put him into the best positions to be successful. Freeney also showcased against the Seahawks that he still has all the physical tools to get to the quarterback. Put those two together and Freeney could be in for a huge year and prove that even at his age, he can still be one of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL.