The Chargers’ Plan for Joey Bosa Aids Edge-Rusher Towards Steelers – Orange County Register
With the Chargers sticking to a four-point lead in the final minutes of Sunday night, Joey Bosa stood in front of left Pittsburgh Steelers security guard Joe Haeg and immediately swapped places with Kyler Fackrell after quarterback Ben Roethlisberger snatched the ball on the first play her last ride.
The Chargers’ edge rushers crossed to make way for Bosa to battle Steelers left tackle Dan Moore Jr.
Bosa was a split second late, but the plan to move the star defender inside and clutter the sides with edge rushers worked. Chargers edge rusher Uchenna Nwosu had a key bag early in the fourth quarter.
Bosa was due for a sack and got one in the game after Fackrell brought down Roethlisberger. The three-time pro bowler was on the inside with Nwosu on the edge to his right, but there was no crossover, just a rush from Bosa over the guard before joining Roethlisberger.
The Steelers faced a third and 29 after Bosa’s sacking and eventually flipped the ball to Downs as the Chargers prevailed 41:37 in a wild Sunday Night Football match at SoFi.
“For me, I only hugged Uchenna and Kyler because they were both fired in the fourth quarter,” Bosa said of his layoff ceremony. “Kyler was the piece before. I felt like we all made it together. I feel like we, as a fringe group, have been waiting to have a really big impact on the games. I think we’ve done a really good job in the last couple of games. Showing up like that at the end was great. It felt great to celebrate this moment with them. ”
The Chargers’ creative fixtures for Bosa in the last two games have helped him break free of doubles and triples on the sidelines, and Nwosu and Fackrell have benefited from that too.
Losing Snaps to Fackrell earlier this season, Nwosu has found his rhythm in Brandon Staley’s defensive system. He had his breakout game of the season against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10 with two quarterback hits and two tackles for the loss, and followed with an outstanding performance against the Steelers.
Nwosu and Fackrell compete for snapshots, but they’ve been productive in the field together, making life easier for the Chargers’ star-edge rusher.
“It helps him a lot,” said Nwosu. “Joey Bosa is one of the best pass rushers of the decade. Any way we can relieve him so he can do his thing and be successful is great. If that means getting him on the guards inside or putting an overload aside so he can work on the tackle, whatever it is, being able to put pressure on or rushing with fours to lift the guys the hands and disturb inside, that really gives Joey the freedom to do his thing. ”
The Chargers got hit with a four-man onslaught of Bosa, Fackrell, Nwosu and defensive tackle Justin Jones during the final ride. Substitute defenders Breiden Fehoko, Joe Gaziano, Andrew Brown and Forrest Merrill stepped up in the first three quarters to put pressure on Roethlisberger.
The Chargers have been thin inside the line of defense with Jerry Tillery and Christian Covington on the COVID-19 reserve list and Linval Joseph expelled with a shoulder injury. On Monday, Joseph Tillery and Covington joined the COVID-19 reserve list after testing positive.
The Chargers (6-4) could be back on a thin line of defense against the Denver Broncos this week, but they’ve got results from their backup defensive tackles and it helps when the pass rushers wreak havoc on the line of scrimmage.
Bosa missed last week’s training because he was quarantined for five days after being classified as having close contact with Tillery. Bosa said the extra time out allowed his body to recover and that could be why he had one of his best performances of the season with three quarterback hits and a sack against the Steelers.
Or it could be the way Jay Rodgers, the Chargers Edge Rushers coach, has been training for the past two weeks.
“Coach Rodgers did a great job,” said Bosa. “He came in two weeks ago with this brand new attitude. At first I was a little annoyed, ‘What is this guy doing?’ But no, it was great. He’s been pushing us to work really hard this week. Unfortunately I missed last week but heard they had another great week. We think it’s very important to get off the ball and be aggressive in the running game, just to get away from people.
“I feel like we did a good job in attack at the beginning of the season, but we didn’t do well in getting out of the blocks and being really effective in the running game. I think we definitely took a step in the right direction last week. Then, last week, coming out with three big sacks at the end was pretty nice. ”
The Chargers allowed 300 yards on Sunday, but they only kept the Steelers at 55 yards. They stepped into the game with the worst rushing defense in the league (155.1 yards allowed per game).
Bosa was concerned after receiving multiple doubles on the sidelines during their Week 8 loss to the New England Patriots. He wanted more opportunities on the inside and Staley has fulfilled that wish in the last three games.
Bosa has a three-game cul-de-sac starting in week 12 after a memorable night against the Steelers.
“I felt like our passport frenzy came alive when we needed it,” said Staley. “I felt like we were aggressive all night.”