BOSTON (CBS) — Bill Belichick tends to make some of his most striking statements when praising the Patriots’ opponents. He has spoken glowingly of the Chargers in his press availability this week, especially about their ferocious pass rush.
The Patriots head coach continued to laud the Chargers’ defensive front in his Wednesday presser, and he’s particularly impressed with edge rushers Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa. And how could you not be? They’re fourth and sixth in the NFL with 8.5 and 7.5 sacks, respectively, playing a major role in the Chargers’ sixth-ranked scoring defense.
“They create a lot of negative plays. Very good on third down. Third and long is basically just a sack and turnover reel,” said Belichick. “They create a lot of bad plays in those situations. Obviously we need try and stay out of as many of those as possible.”
Pro Football Focus ranks Ingram sixth in the NFL through seven weeks with a 90.4 overall grade (“Elite”), while Bosa ranks ninth at 87.8 (“High-Quality”). Bosa especially dominated last Sunday’s 21-0 win over the Broncos, consistently forcing quarterback Trevor Siemian into rushed throws and disrupting the entire offense as a result.
Ingram also delivered a ferocious hit on Siemian, which did result in a roughing the passer penalty. But even if the Patriots get the flag, this is not something anyone would want to see happen to Tom Brady:
That’s not all that the Patriots offensive line will need to deal with on Sunday at Gillette Stadium. The Chargers also have some firepower on the interior from veterans like Corey Liuget and Brandon Mebane. Ingram and Bosa have also lined up inside at times, giving them the same combo of talent and versatility that gave the Patriots trouble against the Texans in Week 3.
One area where Belichick and the Patriots may look to take advantage of the Chargers is their run defense. They have allowed the second-most yards per rush (4.9) and yards per game (140.6) on the ground so far. So it may be wise to expect plenty of Dion Lewis, Mike Gillislee, and Rex Burkhead toting the rock on Sunday, especially with Belichick stressing the need to avoid third-and-long situations.
Still, Belichick is not taking this Chargers defense lightly. He added that Los Angeles “could easily be 6-1” if a few of their early games went differently. The Chargers started 0-4, but lost three of them by three points or less with a pair of last-second missed field goals.
They have won three in a row since then, and it’s clear that the Patriots do not see a sub-.500 team coming to Foxboro.