The 2015 San Diego Chargers are coming in motivated after ending a disappointing 2014 season with a 9-7 record. Despite a 6-1 start, the team was not able to overcome a plethora of injuries all over the roster. The running game was practically non-existent, and Philip Rivers needed to do too much to keep the Bolts in games.
They have upgraded their team tremendously, bringing in two new starting offensive lineman (Orlando Franklin and Joe Barksdale), a slot receiver (Stevie Johnson), an elite returner (Jacoby Jones) and a possible starting safety (Jimmy Wilson). The Chargers also drafted a starting running back and one they hope will be a star (Melvin Gordon). However, the main guy that the team needs to stay healthy and produce is outside linebacker Melvin Ingram.
When healthy, Ingram is a difference maker for this defense. During the seven games that Melvin missed, the defense gave up an average of 235 passing yards per game with 1.9 passing touchdowns allowed per game. During the nine games that Melvin played, the defense gave up an average of 212 passing yards per game and 1.2 passing touchdowns allowed per game.
As you can see, the former Gamecock is a big part of defensive coordinator John Pagano’s defense. He is the one guy who can get constant pressure on the quarterback and can take the double and triple team off of Corey Liuget. Not only is Ingram very important to Liuget, but he is a leader on the field. He can also pass on what he learned from Jarret Johnson and Dwight Freeney to help the development of Jerry Attaochu and this year’s fifth-round pick, Kyle Emanuel.
“Supa-Mel”, as he likes to call himself, is the Chargers best pass rusher from the outside linebacker position. I do think he is poised for a breakout season. With the muscle he gained and the weight he lost, he just needs to show it on the field.
Ingram, 26, has only played in 13 games over the last two seasons. Flashing the ability to wreak havoc on opposing quarterbacks at times, the four-year veteran knows that he has to stay on the field to prove that he was worth the first-round selection in the 2012 draft.
Over his career, Ingram has recorded 78 total tackles, six sacks, seven passes defensed and four forced fumbles.
Look for a big year from this defense if Ingram stays healthy for all 16 games. Don’t be surprised if he registers a double-digit sack total in 2015.
Who do you think is the x-factor for the Chargers’ defense this season?
Let me know in the comments below!