Defensive end Joey Bosa had one of the most impressive rookie year campaigns in recent history. He sacked opposing quarterbacks 10.5 times in the 12 games he played, and had a total of 41 tackles. Bosa became a menace for opposing offences and was a threat on nearly every snap.
Bosa missed the opening four games of 2016 after he missed much of the off-season due to a post draft contract dispute between him and the Chargers. When he did arrive, though, he instantly made an impact. He had two sacks in his first game against the Oakland Raiders, and built off that performance throughout the year.
His best attributes as a pass rusher are his burst off of line and ability to pursue the quarterback. A week after an impressive NFL debut against the Raiders he showed off his skills again against the Denver Broncos.
On this second quarter play, Bosa shows off his burst, speed and agility to make a huge play.
Bosa lined up across Broncos tackle Donald Stephonson (#71). He instantly breaks towards the outside, causing Stephonson to turn his hips outwards to block him. Bosa swipes away his opponent’s hands and jukes back towards the inside. He spins back towards the outside, and manages to push Stephonson almost 5 years back with just his movement alone.
His ease in getting into the backfield puts pressure on quarterback Trevor Siemian, who can not find any open receiver downfield. He steps towards the gap that Bosa left behind him, attempting to scramble upfield. Bosa dispatches of Stephonson with ease and quickly dives at the quarterback’s feet to hold him to one yard.
Bosa is only able to make the play because of the Chargers pass coverage doing their job down field. He had enough time to make a few moves on Stephonson, who did a great job staying in front of him, but his ability to work his way around defenders and sniff out a quarterback scramble his impressive for a player in only his second game.
When the teams met again in week 8, Bosa got the better of Stephonson on a 1st quarter play.
Bosa again comes off of the line fast. He slaps away Stephonson’s hand with ease, and takes a free run at Siemian. He lands a hit on the quarterback and caused an errant pass.
His quickness and agility is what truly makes him such a feared pass rusher. He came off of the line, then managed to make a move inside before the opposing tackle could even lay a hand on him. His body control, agility and speed can give him a free run at the quarterback if the tackle gets caught flat footed for even a second.
The best way to combat his speed and skill is to either double team him, or have someone bump him off-balance at the line of scrimmage. Falcons tight end Austin Hooper (#81) had the chance to do such on this play, but let Bosa go by him as he ran his route.
Hooper rushed out on his route, leaving tackle Ryan Schraeder (#71) alone against Bosa. Bosa uses a quick rip move to get by him and give himself a free run at quarterback Matt Ryan. He crosses the entire formation to drag down Ryan for a sack.
The Falcons biggest mistake on this play was Hooper not throwing a chip block onto Bosa at the line. Tight ends often allow pass rushers by them to both avoid contact, and to quickly run into their route. Hooper was running an out route and it did not look like he was Matt Ryan’s first option on the play. If he was not expecting to get the ball anyways, and it was not a timing route, then there is no reason he did not at least make contact with Bosa. This is most likely a coaching issue and not an issue with this particular player, and it is not uncommon for tight ends to just avoid edge rushers while going out on routes.
His speed and agility can also make Bosa a menace when lined up as an interior defender.
On this play against the Houston Texans Bosa lines up as a defensive tackle. The Chargers Damion Square (#71) draws a double team and pulls the center towards the right. Bosa swiftly gets by guard Jeff Allen (#79) and has a free run at quarterback Brock Osweiler. He chases Osweiler towards the sideline and forces a bad pass that is intercepted.
Bosa benefited heavily from a communication breakdown between the Texans. Allen initially wanted to step out to get outside leverage on Bosa, probably expecting Greg Mancz (#65) to help him on the interior. Mancz turns his attention towards Square and opens a huge hole up for Bosa to bull run the quarterback.
Meanwhile on the edge, Melvin Ingram (#54) embarrasses of Chris Clark (#74) and ducks by him to also get a run at Osweiler. The Texans offensive line got beaten so badly on this play the two pass rushers who blew by them nearly collided with each other in the backfield. As Osweiler attempts to escape Bosa, instead of throwing the ball away or allowing himself to be chased out of bounds he throws an interception.
This team made the playoffs in 2016.
Joey Bosa’s speed is not the only asset he has. Even when offensive linemen position themselves properly to stay in front of Bosa, he uses his strength and leverage to push linemen deep into the backfield.
Bosa lines up across Eric Fisher (#72). Fisher does a good job with his feet, and manages to stay in front of Bosa, not allowing him to speed by him. The Chiefs lineman gets pushed deep into the backfield, and once he is far enough back, Bosa spins off of him. He ends up right behind Alex Smith after breaking free from Fisher, and smothers him for an easy sack.
The rookies strength can help collapse the pocket and sandwich to quarterback to create a sack. Joey Bosa used his strength to its full potential last season on this play.
The Charges defense immediately shifts to the left off of the snap, and Bosa is relatively alone on the right edge. He lines up across Jake Matthews. He shoves Matthews off of the edge quickly, fast enough that Falcons guard Andy Levitre (#67). With the Chargers overloading the left, it is Bosa’s responsibility alone to collapse the right side of the pocket. If Bosa gets shut down at the line or put on the ground, Matt Ryan would have room to scramble towards his right and buy more time to decide what he wants to do on the play.
His strength becomes even more useful in the running game. He has the ability to hold his position at the line and stuff runners on contact. He made this huge stuff at the goal line against the Houston Texans.
Bosa is lined up across tackle Kendall Lamm (#63) and tight end CJ Fiedorowicz (#87) also joins Lamm to double team him on the line. Bosa holds his ground despite the two blockers, and does not take a single step back. He meets running back Lamar Miller at the goal line and keep him out of the end zone.
He combines his speed and strength while defending the run just as he does while serving as a pass rusher, as we saw later on during the Chargers game against the Texans.
Bosa is lines up on the edge across from the Texans Duane Brown (#76). He swipes away Brown’s hand to dispatch his block. He now has a free run into the backfield. Brown takes another chance at stopping Bosa, and tries to wrap his arm around him. Bosa powers through him and takes down Lamar Miller in the backfield for a huge loss.
Despite entering only his second NFL season, Joey Bosa is already one of the NFL’s elite pass rushers. He only played 12 games last season, yet found himself in the top 10 of the leagues sack leaders last season. He is more than just a pass rusher, though, and his skills translate well into run defense.
Bosa, alongside recently franchised Melvin Ingram, combine to form a fearsome front seven duo for a Chargers squad trying to rebuild itself to contend again during the career of Philip Rivers. The Los Angeles Chargers are moving to a new city next season, and their new star on defense makes them a dark horse in the AFC West.
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