Without further ado, here are the ranking for the Chargers defense in the first half of the 2016/17 season.
Joey Bosa - A
You have to give the guy an A. He’s been incredible, with 4 sacks in 4 games, and has been ranked incredibly highly, among company like Von Miller of the Broncos. He is constantly in the quarterback’s face, is a big help in the run game, and the Chargers line him up everywhere, and he’s done it all. His contract fiasco is not on him, and his injury is not on him either. Here’s what PFF had to say about him:
Brandon Mebane - B+
Brandon Mebane has quickly changed the identity of this defense, and has given the defense some toughness and a winning mentality. He doesn’t show up much in the stats, as DTs rarely do, but he has made a huge impact, and has contributed 1 sack, 1 INT, and plugged up the middle on quite a few plays as well.
Corey Liuget - D
Not exactly what Tom Telesco wanted when he signed him to a 5 year, $51 million contract. Considering last year was a bit of a down year for Liuget, Tom took the opportunity to sign him for a contract based on how he played when he was injury free, and how he expected Liuget to play in the future. He’s been rewarded with 0 sacks, 0 FF, but I guess the 13 tackles have been worth it... not... What is good about the contract is that the Chargers can cut ties with him after this season if he continues to play poorly, as his dead cap would be $4.5mill, vs $14.5 million this season. Each season after that, it decreases by $1.5 million, and his only guaranteed money in his final year of his contract is a $1.25 million roster bonus.
Melvin Ingram - B+
In a contract year, he’s showing Tom Telesco exactly what he has, and what he’s consistently put on the field for the last 2 years. He leads the team with 5 sacks, and has created a lethal combination with Joey Bosa, that no team scoffs at. He is used all over the place, and while I don’t believe that he’s meant to be used in coverage (seriously, John Pagano... what the hell... He’s been burned by multiple running backs), he has done the job he’s meant to do.
Jatavis Brown - A
He’s been pretty phenomenal. All over the field, and has come up with plays when the defense needed them. Considering he was a 5th round pick, he’s vastly outplaying his draft position, and should be a staple of this Chargers team for years to come.
Denzel Perryman - A
Also showing up in huge times of need, Denzel Perryman has also been a phenomenal draft choice by Tom Telesco. He single handedly turned the outcome of the Falcons game, picking off Matt Ryan on what probably would have been a game winning drive, which allowed the Chargers to kick a field goal to go to overtime, and then stuffing Devonta Freeman on 4th and 1 to give the Chargers the ball in overtime.
Kyle Emanuel - F
I don’t get it. Kyle Emanuel has almost nothing to show (outside of 1 FF) for starting 8 games. Attaochu is playing better and has a better track record. Put Attaochu back in.
Brandon Flowers - C
Despite still being listed as a starter on the DC, Flowers is injured, and hasn’t exactly recaptured his stellar 2014 season. He doesn’t have top end speed, nor the instincts to cover good receivers anymore.
Casey Hayward - A-
Easily one of the best free agent pickups, Casey Hayward has been thrust into the #1 CB role by the Chargers, and has performed (mostly) admirably. Despite being a part of the problem in covering Julio Jones, he’s been mostly great, and leads the Chargers with 4 INTs, and has a TD as well.
Adrian Phillips - F-
No... no, just no. Addae, get healthy soon.
Dwight Lowery - D-
Not much better than Phillips. Hasn’t been the FS the Chargers need, nor the one they deserve. Tom Telesco, you done goofed in that contract fiasco with Eric Weddle.
Drew Kaser - B-
He’s still too inconsistent. He screwed the Chargers in the Raiders game, and then came back and won AFC Special Teams player of the week the next week. Yeah, he has a huge leg, but he needs to be consistent to be good in my mind. Remember Nate Kaeding, everyone?
Bonus: Tom Telesco and the Spanos family - C-
I think Tom Telesco is phenomenal in putting together rosters, but he along with the Spanos family, are ruthless businessmen, and screwed the Chargers team with the Joey Bosa contract fiasco, the lack of an offer to Eric Weddle, and the contract failures here and there. Despite this, he has built a great reputation as a coupon god, and continuously signs great players to cheap contracts (Heyward, Woodhead, Mebane, etc).
The Chargers have outperformed the expectations on them, and despite the injuries to huge contributors, they have still performed well. The injury to Te’o might have been a blessing in disguise, and with Jason Verrett back next year, this defense should be even better. Hopefully the Chargers will bring in a Strong Safety and/or a Free Safety in the offseason, and make this defense one to boast.