December 9, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (84) runs after a pass reception as San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram (54) and cornerback Antoine Cason (20) make the tackle during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The San Diego Chargers won 34-24. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Chargers that need to step up for a big 2013: Defensive Edition

San Diego had a decent defense last season. They finished 9th in overall yards, allowing 326.4 per game and 6th in rush defense, allowing 96.4 per game. Their biggest struggle was against the pass. They ranked 18th, allowing 230.1 yards per game in the air. They were a middle of the pack team when it came to points allowed, giving up 21.9 points per game. Those aren’t awful statistics when you think about it. I mean, Tampa Bay almost allowed 300 yards passing per game. The leader on defense was undoubtedly Eric Weddle. He led the team in tackles with 97.0 total tackles, had 3 interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown, and 2 forced fumbles. Like Rivers on the offensive side, we’ll leave Weddle out of this discussion. Also, keep in mind that I’m not factoring in free agency and players that might be shipped elsewhere. So who needs to step it up?

December 2, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers defensive tackle Antonio Garay (71) prior to the game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Antonio Garay:If the Chargers decide to keep him, he’ll have to earn every bit of the $5 million he’ll make in 2013. He was brought in to anchor the middle of the defensive line and he’s yet to really do that. If the Chargers decided to switch to a 4-3 defense, Garay will likely be out. If they stay with the 3-4, though, and decide to keep Garay, he needs to prove himself. Last season he only played in eight games and only managed to get 1.0 sack, and recorded 0 stuffs. As a defensive tackle, he should be stuffing running backs all day. He needs to get in and make some plays. We’ll see which way the Chargers are going to lean when they decide what to do with Garay.

 

Melvin Ingram: Ingram is a guy who has loads of potential. He’s very athletic and has immense talent that just needs to be brought out. As his role increased towards the end of last season, he got to learn behind veterans like Takeo Spikes and Shaun Philips, both great linebackers in their own right. Ingram sturggled last season with just about every aspect of the game except for hitting hard and chasing down receivers. He had a hard time getting around the outside and getting to the quarterback as he only recorded 1.0 sack for the whole season. He wasn’t much better at stopping the run, either. This off-season he may be groomed to be a full time starter if the Chargers part ways with Philips. Ingram needs to step it up and make himself worthy of that first round pick.

Marcus Gilchrist: Much like Ingram, Gilcrist is talent waiting to happen. With Quentin Jammer aging and Antoine Cason likely to be let go, it’s now or never for the young Gilchrist to step up. Last season, he recorded 48 total tackles, including 1.0 sack and 4.0 stuffs. He’s young and raw but he should start to develop nicely as he’ll be working his way into the lineup more and more. He’s had his ups and downs, which every corner does, but I think he’ll learn from Jammer and Cason and step up to fill a role for the Bolts.

October 7, 2012; New Orleans, LA, USA; New Orleans Saints running back Darren Sproles (43) runs past San Diego Chargers cornerback Marcus Gilchrist (38) during the second quarter of a game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Tags: Antonio Garay Defense Marcus Gilchrist Melvin Ingram San Diego Chargers

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