The men in the trenches don’t get their due.
When fans and pundits talk about the Chargers defense, they can’t help but rave over Derwin James, Melvin Ingram, Casey Hayward and the others who make the flashy, splash plays.
However, you could argue that Brandon Mebane has been as vital as any to the Bolts’ recent success.
The 33-year old defensive captain is playing as well as he has at any point of his 12-year career. He actually ranks fourth on the Bolts in total tackles with 33, trailing only Denzel Perryman, Derwin James and Jahleel Addae. Mebane also leads the team in forced fumbles and has been disruptive in the offensive backfield, ranking third in tackles for loss.
“Week after week he’s been playing at a high level for us,” said Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley. “And it starts up the middle. You’ve got to be really solid in the middle part of your defense. And he’s done a good job with that part. There’s never been a time when we’re concerned about the match-up as far as how he’s playing and what we’re asking him to do. So he’s playing at a pretty good level right now.”
Mebane has been so good for so long that it’s easy to forget just how impactful he’s been in the trenches. Along with Domata Peko, he’s one of only two active nose tackles in the league with 400 tackles and 15 sacks in his career. He’s also the only active player at his position to have an interception, which he recorded in 2016 when he picked off Derek Carr.
So, what’s the reason behind Mebane’s strong season?
It actually stems from the most important thing in the world to him – his family.
They’ve always been a motivating force, but the 6-1, 311-pounder explained this year, they’ve inspired him more than ever.
“I think the main thing for me is just playing for my family,” he said. “My daughter, she’s supposed to be here Dec. 13th, and just having the feeling of just playing for her. My wife (has been) in and out of the hospital, doing a lot of check-ups and stuff like that, so just playing for her and my kids and my family has been a motivation. A boost to help me just go (out and just play).”
Mebane and his wife, Amena, already have a daughter, Mahailey, and a son, Makai. With a new addition on the way, and his family currently living out of state, the longtime NFL vet clearly has a lot on his plate. However, his ability to balance his personal and professional lives has made him a better player on the field and a better father off of it.
“It’s not hard to balance it,” he said. “You know, when it’s time to play football, I play. When it’s time to talk to them on the phone, I talk to them on the phone. I think I’m at the point right now at 33 where I’m mature enough to know what is what.”