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B/R ranks Chargers among top defenses

Is top seven still not enough respect for this unit?

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Green Bay Packers v Los Angeles Chargers Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

The praise for the Chargers’ defense just keeps coming. This time, they make Bleacher Report’s latest list of the top seven defenses in the NFL.

From seventh to first, here are their top units:

7.) New Orleans Saints
6.) Los Angeles Chargers
5.) Denver Broncos
4.) San Francisco 49ers
3.) Chicago Bears
2.) Pittsburgh Steelers
1.) Baltimore Ravens

Sixth isn’t too shabby, but some could argue that they deserve to be higher than one or two teams currently ranked above them.

Author Chris Roling starts his blurb on the Chargers with the sentiment “...the pass rush rules all.” which gives us an idea of why teams are ranked where they are. The Broncos currently have Von Miller, Bradley Chubb, and Jurrell Casey. The Bears have Khalil Mack, Akiem Hicks, and newly-signed Robert Quinn.

While those are formidable trios up front, I’m not sure how the Chargers don’t get the edge due to their stacked secondary. The Bears have Eddie Jackson and Kendall Fuller. The Broncos have Justin Simmons and AJ Bouye. But the Chargers have twice as many elite defensive backs as either of those teams. Based on that alone, I can’t agree with this ranking.

However, it’s the secondary’s lack of production that likely keeps them out of the top five.

“The unit only mustered 30 sacks (fifth-fewest) with 11 interceptions and surrendered 21.6 points per game,” says Roling. “Los Angeles worked to better surround the star duo (Bosa and Ingram), though.”

Roling’s also a huge fan of the additions of Linval Joseph via free agency and Kenneth Murray Jr. from the draft. Joseph provides a monolithic presence in the middle of the defense while Murray adds a level of athleticism not seen at the second level for the Bolts in some time.

Add in a healthy Derwin James - who said his football IQ is higher than ever on Wednesday - and you’ve got yourself an extremely potent defensive cocktail that no offense will be willing to drink in 2020.

“Most important of all, elite safety Derwin James—who received a 88.3 PFF grade as an All-Pro rookie in 2018—should be able to play more than the five games he appeared in last season. James’ presence alone could make this a top-10 defense, though the organization’s additions seal the big leap.”