After finishing eight quarters away from the Super Bowl last season, can the San Diego Chargers reach the NFL title game this season with an upgrade at just one important position?
In this ESPN Insider piece, Neil Hornsby of Pro Football Focus writes that that Chargers are one of five NFL teams that are one glaring need away from elevating themselves to the point of competing for a Super Bowl appearance.
Hornsby says that position for the Chargers is edge rusher.
Hornsby: “When Dwight Freeney went down in Week 4 of this past season, it laid in clear relief an issue that the Chargers have had since Shawne Merriman was in his prime: an inability to get pressure from their outside linebackers. When your top three rushers in terms of total pressure are two 5-technique defensive ends and a linebacker, Reggie Walker, who played the first 11 games of 2013 on the inside, you know you have problems.”
Hornsby’s assertion that edge rusher is a deficiency on San Diego’s defense has merit. You can look to Seattle signing edge rushers Michael Bennett and Cliff Avril in free agency last year as a blueprint for how much creating an effective pass rush benefits an entire defense.
But I still believe the Chargers have a greater need at cornerback, and should fix that area first before bringing in more edge rushers. The Chargers already have eight players currently under contract for the upcoming season that can rush the passer off the edge.