This weeks team theme asks, “who is the team’s defensive lineman that is under the radar?” In the Chargers case, I think this comes down to two options. Playing alongside Joey Bosa & Melvin Ingram you’re not going to have many opportunities for glory. You’re going to have to do the dirty work. Chris McCain is playing well as a 3rd pass rusher. He gives the team flexibility to move Ingram all around the line of scrimmage. His 5 sacks are much needed but I don’t believe he’s playing enough to warrant an under the radar tag. For example, against the Jaguars McCain only played 19% of the snaps.
The process of elimination gets us to Darius Philon. The Chargers rushing defense was at the bottom of the league for the 1st half of the season. The last few games since Philon has played more and more we’ve seen their rushing numbers greatly improve. Philon will flash every now and then but he’s doing the dirty work inside that is freeing up linebackers when he can’t finish himself. His play has allowed the team to scale back Corey Liuget’s snap count per game, making him more effective as well. Philon took on a double team against the Patriots and that left Bosa 1-on-1. The result was a sack. Ever since Philon has been given an opportunity, he’s showed that he can get a push.
This is the play from Darius Philon that I was referencing on the podcast, hard to play that any better pic.twitter.com/adYMShcVL4— Garrett Sisti (@GarrettSisti) September 19, 2017
He continued his effectiveness Sunday against the Jaguars. He beat his man and I believe it was Bosa who was the beneficiary of getting a sack out of it. Philon has given the team a much-needed presence in the middle that can sub in and give them quality snaps. He is still only 23 and with more and more snaps you are seeing continued development. I don’t believe he’s reached his ceiling just yet, but if he has, he’s shown he can be a valuable rotational player. His ceiling could be who we wanted Liuget to be.
Who would you give the under the radar defensive lineman award to so far this year?