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First Impressions of the First-Team Defense
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It took a few snaps for the Chargers’ first-team defense to get their feet under them, but once they did, they flashed what they are capable of in 2017.
After limiting the damage to a field goal on the first possession, the Bolts’ starters authored a three-and-out on their only other drive of the game. It wasn’t perfect, but starters came out of the game pleased with the foundation put in place.
“That’s what you want to get out of it as a first unit,” Kyle Emanuel said. “We knew we weren’t going to be out there long, but we wanted to get a good feel for each other and the new defense. I’m glad we got to go back out there the second series and get that quick three-and-out. Overall, it was pretty good. We’ll keep growing and learning with (Defensive Coordinator) Gus (Bradley). It’s a process, but we’ll keep growing. We’re happy with how it started, but we’d like to be even better.”
Seattle started out fast, converting a quick pair of first downs. But following Paul Richardson’s 25-yard reception to the Los Angeles 32-yard line, the Bolts buckled down. They were led by Melvin Ingram, who showed exactly why the team locked him up to a long-term extension this offseason.
“It’s cool (and) I love (the LEO position),” Ingram said following the game. “We’re just out there working hard. We’re going to get back in that lab and get it right. We don’t want to give up any yards. That’s our goal. Give up no yards.”
Playing his first game in his new LEO position, he joined forces with Jatavis Brown to stop Thomas Rawls on first down for just a two-yard gain. On second down, Ingram showed tremendous speed off the snap, bringing interior pressure in Russell Wilson’s face to force an incompletion. Then, on 3rd-and-9, the Bolts pestered Wilson out of the pocket where he was forced to scramble, but came up shy of the sticks.
As a result, the Bolts maintained a lead after Blair Walsh was limited to a 42-yard field goal.
“I thought we did pretty good,” Jatavis Brown said. “We got off to a little slow start, but overall, we did pretty good. It was very encouraging (to limit them to a field goal). We’ve got that bend don’t break defense. As long as we keep them out of the end zone, we’re good.”
The starters got a second chance to trot onto the field, and made a statement by forcing a three-and-out. Joey Bosa and Brandon Mebane gang-tackled Eddie Lacy after a gain of four before the Seahawks were spooked by the speed of Ingram. Number 54 once again was a blur off the snap, racing into the backfield causing Trevone Boykin to fumble the ball. He recovered it six yards behind the line of scrimmage, bringing up 3rd-and-12. On the play, Tenny Palepoi forced Boykin to roll out to his left, where Ingram met him to force an incomplete pass downfield.
It’s no secret the Bolts expect big things from the defensive line, especially Ingram and Bosa. The pair are one of the top pass-rushing bookends in the NFL, and showed a taste of what they are capable of together. According to Pro Football Focus, Bosa had two QB pressures on his five pass rush snaps while Ingram had pair as well on six.
“We talk all the time about how it starts up front,” Emanuel said. “When Melvin and Joey can do their thing on the edge, it makes life so much easier for everyone else.” Read