Few teams in the NFL boast a pass rushing duo with the same quality and capabilities of the Los Angeles Chargers. Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa are arguably the best of the best and they went to work against the maligned New England Patriots offensive linemen on Sunday.
According to Pro Football Focus, Ingram and Bosa combined for a sack, 2 quarterback hits, and 16 hurries combined over 50 different plays and they did it against all of the different Patriots linemen.
“David Andrews was once again the Patriots’ highest graded offensive lineman as he allowed just one total pressure (one quarterback hurry) in the entire game,” PFF wrote in their game notes. “However, all other linemen - including Marcus Cannon and LaAdrian Waddle - at least three total pressures. Left tackle Nate Solder surrendered the most pressures on the Patriots as he gave up a hit and seven quarterback hurries.”
PFF also noted that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was pressured on 46% of his dropbacks, an astronomical number, until you find that Brady was clocked as waiting between 2.71 and 2.86 seconds before throwing the football, joining Tyrod Taylor, Matt Ryan, Russell Wilson, and Deshaun Watson as holding the ball the longest in week 8.
So of course Brady was going to get pressured and of course the Chargers pass rush was going to get to Brady. He was holding the ball forever and a day, waiting for receivers to get open. That’s a tough ask for any offensive line, especially when right tackle Marcus Cannon left in the second quarter with an ankle injury, forcing back-up LaAdrian Waddle to see a larger role.
“You just go out there and try to execute, try to go out there and no matter the play – run or pass – execute,” Waddle said after the game. “As far as those guys [the Chargers, they definitely have some good rushers and good players, but we just came out with the attitude that we have to execute and do our job. If we play with good technique and play the way we should play, we could handle those guys.”
Waddle did a good enough job in reserve duty to help the team earn and to also earn the praise of head coach Bill Belichick after the game.
“LA [LaAdrian Waddle] gave us a good half-plus and the protection on the field goal team, as well,“ Belichick said. “That’s another big role for him. But yeah, that was big for us. Look, they [the Chargers] have a good pass rush. They have a lot of good rushers. I mean, It’s Ingram and Bosa but it’s a lot more than that.
“They did a good job with their perimeter pressures. They brought some extra guys and dropped some out, so it was again, not the easiest thing to deal with. Some of that involved the backs. Sometimes the backs and the tight ends were involved in bumping those guys on the way out. To handle that everybody has to do a good job. The quarterback has to get the ball out on time. The line has to pass protect. The receivers have to have spacing in zone and get open in man-to-man.
“We don’t have all day because the rush is getting there pretty quick so if nobody is open you can’t block them forever. If we get open quickly then we don’t have to block them as long. The times that we had it was good overall team execution. Unfortunately, there were times where we didn’t have it and then we didn’t have good plays to go with it.”
The Chargers wanted to rush extra linebackers and defensive backs to put stress on the Patriots blockers and also to force the running back to stay in the backfield and not leak out as a receiver. Fortunately, the blocking held up just enough so that the various running backs could go out and have a big day moving the chains and getting into field goal range.
“They’re a very good defense,” left guard Joe Thuney said after the game. “They’ve got a great defensive line. They were coming off a three-game win streak and playing well, so it was a battle all game. We had a lot of plays and it was a physical game. I’m just very glad we got the victory.”