The Chargers are now about two years removed from the 2020 season, which was arguably the worst tackling performances I’ve ever seen from this team since I began following them closely as a fan some 16 years ago. It was so bad that, despite a four-game winning streak to end the season, Anthony Lynn was ousted. Now, I’d be wrong to say that was the only reason he was fired, but it certainly didn’t help when combined with the inept game management.
This past season under Brandon Staley, the tackling was better, but not by a whole lot. Obviously the run defense was atrocious and tackling ability plays into that, but there wasn’t as many missed tackles that directly led to massive gains. Of course, a defender can’t miss a tackle if there’s no one even close enough to attempt one. That’s probably the best way to describe last year’s struggles.
With that in mind, I decided to highlight four Chargers defenders who could stand to improve on some porous tackling stats from this past season. If the Bolts want to take that needed step forward on defense, these players and their ability to bring down ball carriers is a solid place to begin those changes.
EDGE Joey Bosa
I know it’s probably weird to see the name of one of the Chargers’ best defensive players on this list, but the numbers don’t lie. Despite leading the team in both sacks and tackles for loss for yet another year, Bosa also led the team with the highest missed tackle rate on the team (minimum 25 tackles) at 23.6 percent. That’s inching close to missing one in every four attempts. Obviously not something we’d like to see continue with the Big Bear but at least he makes enough of an impact overall that a stat like this can easily fall into irrelevancy.
At any rate, progressing and becoming a better player year-in and year-out is the name of the game so if Bosa wants to take his game to another level this year, this is a good place to start.
Fullback on Joey Bosa?! That’s cute pic.twitter.com/17gjaIF3tK— Ben Fennell (@BenFennell_NFL) October 6, 2021
CB Asante Samuel Jr.
“Zont” kicked off his rookie season with a pair of Rookie of the Week honors within his first month in the NFL. He finished his first season with two interceptions and 11 pass breakups. His season may have been even better if it was derailed by concussions that forced him to five total games.
Heading into his sophomore campaign, Samuel is another player who could stand work on his tackling. He was second on the team with a missed tackle rate of 20.8 percent and missed 11 attempts in all. His aggressive style of play on the outside will thrill Chargers fans and that’s usually enough to gloss over some of these shortcomings, but he’ll need to sure up this area if he wants to live up to his father’s legacy.
LB Troy Reeder
One of the newest Chargers defenders, Reeder is coming off a career-high 91 tackles in 10 starts for the Rams. His missed tackle rate of 14.1 percent is the lowest on this list, but his 18 total missed tackles ties him for the most. The Chargers added Reeder due to his familiarity with Staley’s system and to get another body into an otherwise shallow position room.
Kenneth Murray also had a missed tackle rate in the double-digits while Drue Tranquill with a rate of five percent in 2021. If either Reeder or Murray hopes to land, and keep, a starting job, a good place to start is making sure you’re a trustworthy tackler in the heart of the defense.
S Nasir Addrley
Adderley is the returning leader for the Chargers in missed tackles from a year ago. He missed 18 total attempts and finished with a missed tackle rate of 15.8. While these numbers don’t paint a pretty picture, Adderley’s first season in Staley’s scheme was arguably his best as a pro. He was much more comfortable on a down-to-down basis and he seemed a lot more connected with his teammates on the back end. Switching to a Cover 2 shell was always going to take some pressure off of him compared to the three-high system, but I personally didn’t expect that much of a difference in one year. He finished with 99 total tackles, the most of any player on this list. If he can knock down that missed tackle rate closer to 10 percent or lower, watch out.