The entire NFL knows that the Chargers’ pass rush can do damage on opposing teams. In Sunday’s matchup against the Browns, the Bolts recorded nine QB hits and five sacks on Baker Mayfield.
Coming off a game in which quarterback Marcus Mariota was sacked 11 times, the Tennessee Titans are preparing to face the dominant pass rush of the Chargers. Still, they know that was an anomaly, and it won’t be easy getting to Mariota vs. one of the top offensive lines in the game.
But Titans’ Head Coach Mike Vrabel is well aware his team is in for one heck of a challenge as well, even if the Bolts are without Joey Bosa, who Vrabel coached while at Ohio State.
“Melvin Ingram and (Damion) Square and (Darius) Philon; the whole crew has done a good job of picking up the slack, and that’s what happens in pro football,” Vrabel said. “Melvin, (we) certainly (have) got to know where he’s at. Square rushes hard. It still looks disruptive.”
Vrabel continued to heap praise onto the 13th ranked defense in the league.
“(Brandon) Mebane’s a great first, second down player,” he remarked. “(Isaac) Rochell’s been a guy that’s got some good length that plays different places for them. He rushes the passer with his length, and uses his hands well for a young player.”
But the defense isn’t the only thing the coach knows his team needs to be on the look out for. There’s also the eruptive Chargers offense, which racked up a net total 449 yards last week. 246 of those yards came through rushing, led by two talented running backs in Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler.
“They have probably close to 50 or 45 explosive plays running and throwing the ball between them,” Vrabel said about the duo. “That’s something that’s not easy. They probably have 35 of the 62 explosive plays, and a lot of those are in the run game. Some are in the pass game. You’ve seen Ekeler get downfield, catch a ball 20, 30 yards from the line of scrimmage (and) seen Gordon catch it near the line of scrimmage and turn it into 20 yards. Two explosive guys. Both guys are comfortable with the ball in their hand. They do a good job of catching it, and Philip certainly looks for them.”
However, Tennessee has a solid defense, noted Head Coach Anthony Lynn, and will make the Chargers offense work even harder.
“It’s their scheme,” he explained. “They get after your front. Like I said, they’re a very physical team up front. They stop the run. They can make you one dimensional. Whenever a defense can do that, it can really hurt your offense. Offensively, they have weapons on offense. They lost their starting tight end so they’re not getting the production at the tight end position that they’re used to getting, but those backs and that quarterback, they can move the sticks.”