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Is Jerry Attaochu Ready to Have a Breakout Season?

Zach Adams asks and tries to answer the question of if Attaochu can become an impact player.

A new season is on the horizon, a fresh start for the 31 teams who were not at the pinnacle, glamorous top as the Super Bowl winners. A refreshing feeling for all the mid-tier teams that hold onto the “what ifs” and “almost” scenarios that could have changed the landscape of a season. For the Chargers, the last few seasons in a row it seems to be the injuries. “If we stay healthy.” I know we have all said and heard it. The fact remains that the talent needed to make a real push is already on the roster, so it's justified.

One area of concern heading into the offseason that was not necessarily addressed by a big addition was an edge rusher. I said the main priorities were the offensive line, which seems to revamped (on paper at least) wideout and safety. However, I will never deny that you can never have enough pass rushers. The thought I have tossed around in my head is, could the extra pass rusher we wanted and needed already be on the roster? I'm looking and hoping for Jerry Attaochu to step up and be that guy! Since he has only played in a 3-4 defense both in college and since being a Charger, I had my doubts. Then I realized that could very well be an ignorant misconception. I don't want to sound like the people saying Joey Bosa won't fit with the Chargers due to the scheme. Some players can just do it all no matter scheme or position. I'm not saying Attaochu is the player or monster that Bosa is, but how many people are. So how can he fit in the new scheme Gus Bradley brings that was so successful in Seattle? I've thought a lot about this, so I'll break down my opinion for you.

By this point, it’s already a well know fact that Bradley runs a 4-3 scheme that has shades of a 3-4. Or that to put it simply. Essentially most the time it will look like a 5-2 defense as one linebacker will be on the line as an end or both ends standing up. This system was made famous by the super analyzed “Leo” position. It has been highly speculated that this will be Bosa’s role. However, the fact remains that Bradley like to switch his player around constantly. So don't be surprised if he plays four technique defensive end or even three tech. If or inevitably when this happens I feel like Attauchu would make a great “Leo.” He was regarded as having one of the quickest first steps coming out of the draft. He has quick enough hips to where he can easily drop back into coverage. He has flashed many times when on the field yet has suffered from injuries and taking a back seat to Kyle Emmanual. I even pondered if he could transition to a 4-3 base Sam backer. Assuming Toomer doesn't take that role. Then again Emmanual might be better for that role as he is one one of the pass rushers that is not well suited for the role of “Leo.”

Now like I said before the roles will switch multiple times even through the course of a single game. Jerry Attaochu is great at line stunts. Often shooting to the inside gaps. Even leading me to believe Bosa will play the four tech role. This would allow him to switch with Attaochu to the outside edge rush during a stunt. When he is healthy, he has improved on his finesse moves considering he was naturally a bull rush guy. That may or may not have to due to the presence of Dwight Freeney, even if it was only for a single year. Both he and Melvin Ingram seemed to develop the spin move after that year.

Due to multiple injuries or not finishing his pocket pressures, he seems to be flying under the radar. He has yet to have what you would call a big year. However, I believe if he could stay healthy he could be that extra pass rusher we have all wanted or wished for. In turn, would also help to keep a better rotation allowing guys to save mileage down the stretch of a long season. Every year I find myself saying “if they stay healthy, ” but we have yet to see Jerrys full potential. So if he can manage to indeed stay on the field the Chargers, more specifically Tom Telesco, would look like he did the right thing by allowing a new staff to develop the defensive players on the roster before making a change. I use the word develop because the abundance of youth on the roster is crazy. Not to mention Gus seems to get the best out of his defensive players.