On Monday, we documented all Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick had to say about the Chargers offense.
Well, he was just as effusive in his praise about the team’s defense.
In particular, he noted how the unit is playing in Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley’s image. At the same time, while the Bolts made waves by going with an unconventional seven DB look against the Ravens, Belichick made it clear he doesn’t expect them to play Tom Brady the same way.
“(They’re) very well-coached,” he said. “Fundamentally sound. Good technique team. Really forces you to execute well against them.… Bradley runs the Seattle system and that's a very sound and proven system of defense. That's the core of it. Yeah, there's game-to-game adjustments. I'm sure they'll play Tom Brady differently than they played Lamar Jackson, like anybody would. But their scheme is still pretty fundamentally their scheme, and they've had so much success with it. They've been one of the top defensive teams for the last couple years. I can't imagine them straying too far from the principles of what's made them so successful.”
Like everyone else, Belichick began his break down of the Bolts’ defense by highlighting their pass rush.
More specifically, it all starts with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, who accounted for three sacks in Sunday’s win over the Ravens. Ingram led the Bolts with 7.5 sacks in the regular season while Bosa tallied 5.5 in only seven games.
“Both guys are very disruptive, not only in pressuring or sacking the quarterback, but also strip-sacking and knocking the ball off the quarterback,” Belichick said. “They have great awareness to get the ball off. Ingram lines up inside on passing situations a pretty decent amount of the time so he's not always on the edge, so really anybody could get him. Bosa's in there some, too, but Bosa's more outside than inside. In third down situations, Ingram shows up inside quite a bit. He's had very good production in there against a number of teams. (So) it's not blocking those guys; it's finding them and trying to get things set as much as you can to deal with those two players.”
However, Belichick stressed that even if the Pats contain Ingram and Bosa, the Chargers have a litany of players who can wreak havoc as well.
In fact, all he had to do was point to the end of the team’s Wild Card win when Uchenna Nwosu sealed the deal with a strip-sack.
“They have a lot of other good pass-rushers, too,” he noted. “They have strong, physical players and they have other edge players. Obviously, Nwosu made a big play there at the end of the Ravens so they've been able to mix in other guys on the edge to move Ingram or move him around, play some odd fronts, play some even fronts. They're very well-coached out there. (Defensive Line) Coach (Giff) Smith does a great job with that group. They have good fundamentals, good techniques, they're explosive and it's a very talented defensive front.”
Of course, Nwosu isn’t the only rookie catching Belichick’s eye.
As he explains it, there’s a reason why Derwin James has earned Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors in his first season as he truly is a rare talent.
In fact, he couldn’t stop gushing about James.
“He's as good as anybody we've seen all year,” he said. “Big, fast, athletic, very instinctive. He primarily plays around the line of scrimmage. Usually in a safety position but they play a lot of six and seven defensive backs, so sometimes he's in a linebacker-type position, but whether you want to call him a linebacker or a safety, he's down near the line of scrimmage. It's pretty much the same. He's a very good tackler. He's a very good blitzer when they blitz him.... He gets a good break on the ball. He reads the quarterback well and he's had some big plays in the deep part of the field knocking the ball off of receivers and getting a good break on the ball and getting to the reception area. His length, his strength, his speed and his instinctiveness - he has a good nose for the ball. He's around the ball a lot and physically he's really hard to deal with. He's fast and with great size and explosive power. The guy's a really good football player.”
Finally, James isn’t the only young stud in the Bolts’ secondary that stands out as Belichick also had high praise for All-Pro defensive back Desmond King.
“He’s done an outstanding job,” he’s said. “He’s been a great player in that defense for Coach (Anthony) Lynn and Coach Bradley. Very good in that inside position. He’s instinctive. He reads things very quickly, closes well, a good tackler in space and obviously has done a great job for them in the return game, both punts and kickoffs (and) ball handling. He made some big plays, explosive plays and set the Chargers offense up for good field position. He’s done an excellent job for them.”
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