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Opponent Scouting Report: The Chargers have an elite duo of pass rushers

Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa are stellar pass rushers. How can the Colts beat them this Sunday?

NFL: AFC Wild Card-Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Colts head to Los Angeles to face the Chargers this Sunday. The Chargers will be without one of their best defenders in rookie standout Derwin James which could limit their overall defensive play. Even with James’ absence, the Chargers defense should be a true test for the Colts’ offense led by new starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The pass rushing tandem of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram is one of the best in the league and could give the new signal caller issues in his first start of the year.

Bosa, a former top five pick, has been dominant since entering the NFL. He has a career sack total of 28.5 sacks in just 35 games played (7.5 sacks in 9 games last year including the playoffs). Ingram is more of the high energy, versatile type but has been just as productive in recent years. He has 36 total sacks since becoming a starter for the Chargers back in 2015 (7 sacks last season).

In today’s scouting report, we will look at the skill-set of these two talented pass rushers then talk about how the Colts can potentially mitigate their their impact this Sunday.

Joey Bosa

A highly touted prospect out of Ohio State, Bosa was an animal in college. He wins with elite burst and acceleration that he combines with powerful hands and pretty good bend around the edge. His quickness and speed around the edge are so difficult to handle for tackles in one on one situations. Here he swats the hands of the right tackle which gives him just enough room to bend around the edge for the sack. Elite quickness and burst on display here.

Another reason why he is so hard to game plan against for offensive tackles is his overall technique. Most pass rushers in the league have one or two go to moves that they use on a pretty regular basis. Bosa is no different but he does switch up his move set enough to keep tackles on edge. Here he executes a perfect spin to the inside to get the sack. Along with the spin move, I’ve also seen him win using a bull rush, the swipe and rip (his signature), a speed dip, and others. This ability to use multiple moves makes him so difficult to block one on one.

Melvin Ingram

Ingram is a completely different animal from Bosa. He is more versatile and agile while also bringing a tenacity and motor that not many players in the league have. He’s the type of player that you always need to account for on a defense. Here he puts a deadly spin move on an excellent guard in Kelechi Osemele to get the sack on Carr. He needs to be diagnosed early in the play wherever he lines up or he will make an offense pay.

While he can line up on the inside, he does most of his damage on the edge. He may not be as athletic or as refined as Bosa but he wins in many different ways. He is constantly working tackles and makes their life difficult with very violent hands and active feet. He is constantly working with his high motor. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have the talent either though. Here he beats a very good tackle in Mitchell Schwartz with a quick move to the outside and bend around the outside. When talent meets a highly motivated and active player, you get a star like Melvin Ingram.

How the Colts can counter their Pass Rush

So far it seems like there is no way to beat these star rushers. Well there are actually many ways the Colts can mitigate their success on Sunday. The first way is by establishing the run and keeping up the strong play they had late last season which I broke down in yesterday’s film room. There are other ways even to limit them besides just establishing the run though.

Let’s look at a few clips from the Colts’ game against Demarcus Lawrence. Lawrence, an elite pass rusher in his own right, lined up mostly against right tackle Braden Smith. The Colts’ were obviously worried about this matchup as they had constant chips and help to support Smith as he tried to Lawrence. These moves allowed Smith to essentially lock down Lawrence.

This is relevant information as Bosa will likely line up against Smith on Sunday. If the Colts want to limit him like they did with Lawrence last year, they would be wise to use their running backs and tight ends to help chip and get players open downfield. In both of these clips below, the chip helps Smith control the block and give time for Andrew Luck to find TY Hilton downfield.

Chipping Bosa does not entirely solve the Colts’ problem against the pass rush. They need to figure out a way to lessen their impact on the game. That is where the screen and quick pass game comes into play. If Frank Reich can draw up some plays to get his skill players open on the perimeter whether it be through screens, rub routes, slants, or whatever, then the Colts have a good chance to control this game.

When the Colts faced off against teams with a good pass rush like the Washington Redskins, Houston Texans, and Jacksonville Jaguars, they made an emphasis to get the ball out of Luck’s hands quickly. A good pass rush can be effective but if the ball is out of the quarterback’s hands in 2-3 seconds, they have no chance at getting home. This needs to especially be an emphasis against the Chargers as they are relatively weak at linebacker and are missing their top tackler in the secondary in James. Get the ball out quickly to Hilton, Nyheim Hines, and Parris Campbell and let them make plays rather than holding the ball waiting for Ingram and Bosa to make plays.

Final Thoughts

Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram are two of the league’s top pass rushers and they complement each other so well. Bosa is electric and insanely talented as he attacks offensive lineman in so many ways. Ingram is versatile and aggressive as he fights for every inch on every play. They are a serious problem for not just the Colts but for the rest of the league.

The Colts can design a game plan to beat them. If they focus on establishing the run early, they may be able to limit their aggressiveness when rushing the passer. On top of that, the Colts have to use chips and double teams to help Braden Smith when he is on an island with Bosa. Finally, the team cannot have Jacoby Brissett hold the ball. Get the ball out quick, let him be decisive, and let the speedy play makers go to work. If the Colts can do those three things, they can beat this impressive Chargers’ pass rush on Sunday.