The San Diego Chargers finished last year ranked 16th in the NFL in total defense. In a disappointing 2011 year for the Chargers, the defense was one of the main reasons why the team struggled.
The Chargers fired defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and promoted linebacker coach John Pagano to fill the vacancy. Charger players have expressed their excitement to be working under Pagano.
The defense never could figure it out under Manuksy, they ranked 20th in the league in opponent rushing yards and 13th against the pass. The Chargers should expect to be much better on defense this year, with a familiar coach taking the reigns and the excitement surrounding Pagano, the Chargers defense should see an upgrade.
The Chargers also improved through free agency and the draft on the defensive side of the ball. The Chargers signed Jarret Johnson in the beginning of free agency. Johnson will improve the run defense—his specialty is sealing the edge and shutting down the run, which is exactly what the Chargers lacked last year.
The Chargers also added depth at safety with the addition of Atari Bigby.
Bigby should battle with third round draft pick Brandon Taylor for the starting job at safety alongside of Eric Weddle. Draft picks Melvin Ingram and Kendall Reyes both will compete to see plenty of snaps in their rookie seasons.
Ingram should see a majority of third down snaps as well as spell Johnson in blitz packages. Reyes adds depth to a fairly slim defensive line that seems to be dealing with injuries every year. At 6’4” and 300lbs, he has the ability to play both the interior and exterior positions on the line.
Shaun Phillips should have a rebound year for the Bolts—last year, Phillips was plagued by injury, which caused him to miss five games in 2011. With the addition of Ingram and Johnson, Philips should see pressure taken off of him.
Last year, he saw double teams and saw his sack numbers dip from 11 in 2010 to 3.5 in 2011. With Philips healthy and the additions through the draft and free agency, John Pagano’s defense should be a top defense in the NFL.