You know that friend of yours that you keep trying to encourage over and over because you know there’s some potential there they just need to utilize it? Well, that friend is like Larry English for the San Diego Chargers, the former first round pick who has been nothing but a disappointment during his tenure in lightning bolts. The physical tools are all present, but English just hasn’t been able to translate that into production on the field for the Chargers. No better time than the present, right Larry?
There were high hopes for the Chargers’ pass rush in the offseason with Melvin Ingram heading into his second year and a potential sleeper draft choice in Tourek Williams. That initial optimism for Ingram was dashed in a hurry as he went down with a torn ACL in minicamp in May, but even then fans were given a shot in the arm when general manager Tom Telesco went out and signed former Indianapolis Colts star pass rusher Dwight Freeney. After a few uneventful games by the man known for his patented spin move, he too succumbed to the injury bug as a torn quadriceps landed him on IR.
And now that’s where we stand. The Chargers have a respectable 13 sacks through five games, but given the issues in the secondary this team needs to get more pressure on opposing quarterbacks or continue to get torched through the air. It seems unlikely that veteran Jarret Johnson can produce much more than the three sacks he already has through five games as a player known more for his run-stuffing ability than his pass rushing. Thomas Keiser was a camp body cut and then brought back following the Freeney injury, but he doesn’t really put fear into anyone. And the aforementioned Tourek Williams has yet to record any statistics with the Bolts.
No, this all comes down to Larry English and his ability to shake the bust label. He’s been injury-prone throughout his career, but this season that has yet to be a problem. English is a powerfully built 6-foot-2 255-pounds and could use a variety of techniques to get into the backfield, but the problem is he doesn’t really have much of a repertoire. With one and a half sacks so far this season, English has at least made some progress. Perhaps that was due to Freeney who English said taught him a great deal just from observation. English told ESPN:
“One of the things with Dwight was how much he paid attention to, and how knowledgeable he was of offensive line blocking schemes. He really comes up with a game plan for all four of us to be able to win as a defensive front. He was really good at studying and really diagnosing what an offensive line was going to come with each week.”
Perhaps that was the problem way back in 2009 when the Chargers drafted English out of Northern Illinois. The Bolts needed someone to step in and replace Shawne Merriman right away, and the expectations from his explosive first three seasons in the league put undue pressure on English. A rookie out of a smaller school needs time to learn the ropes and adjust his game rather than being thrown straight into the fire.
Now a 27 year old veteran entering the final year of that rookie deal, English is trying to finally make his mark in the place he has called home his entire NFL career. It’s hard to imagine the Bolts bringing him back for another tour of duty following this season, but some production over the stretch run of the season certainly wouldn’t hurt his cause.