The LA Chargers are clearly a formidable team with or without Joey Bosa. Still, the Seattle Seahawks would surely like to avoid Bosa if they can and despite reports that the Pro Bowl/2016 Defensive Rookie of the Year was likely to make his season debut this week, it seems as though that will probably not be the case. At least according to the former team doctor for the Chargers, David Chao:
“It was my first day in cleats,” Bosa said Monday. “I actually got in some three-point stances. I’ve been running straight ahead. The fastest times I’ve run yet. I’m feeling good. Straight ahead is really good right now. Not much discomfort.”
“First day in cleats” translates to his being weeks away from being ready to play in a game.
Chao notes that getting into a three-point stance and running straight ahead is good progress for Bosa, who has missed all seven games this season with a bone bruise in his foot, but not nearly good enough to signal that Bosa can explode out of that stance or torque his body around an offensive tackle, which puts way more pressure on the injured foot.
LA has often had issues to open the season and Bosa’s injury seemed to be yet another sign of a sad September for the Chargers, but they are 5-2 with their only losses coming against the 7-1 Kansas City Chiefs and 8-0 LA Rams. That being said, LA’s five wins have come against poor competition and the Chargers defense without Bosa has yet to display true dominance: they are 23rd in net yards per pass attempt allowed and are led in sacks by safety Derwin James and defensive end Melvin Ingram, who each have 3.5.
Bosa has 23 sacks in his first 28 games despite holding out to open his rookie campaign in 2016. The Chargers were third in points allowed last season with a healthy Bosa, ranking third in net yards/pass attempt allowed and featuring 12.5 sacks from Bosa, 10 sacks from Ingram, and three other players with at least four sacks.
Isaac Rochell, a seventh round pick in 2017, started the first three games of the season at defensive end. Then Damion Square, a 29-year-old former undrafted free agent, has started the last four. Overall, the Chargers’ attempt to fill-in Bosa has been using the most complicated and involved defensive line rotation of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley’s career:
“This is the first time I’ve been around where we rotate as much as we do,” Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said about the defensive line. “It’s good and bad, but the good part outweighs the bad part of it.
”The good is that you keep guys fresh. Then somewhere if an injury happens and the next guy comes in, really the whole defense doesn’t blink because they’ve played. I really like it. I think it’s a credit to (defensive-line coach) Giff Smith for having that philosophy, and, obviously, for guys’ morale it’s great because a lot of guys are getting playing time.”
Square and Rochell each have two sacks, as does defensive tackle Darius Philon. Former Seattle defensive tackle Brandon Mebane, still active and starting weekly at age 33, has 22 tackles and one sack.