Trenchtown Sports: Chargers new-look defense begins in the Trenches

(Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Two consecutive seasons the Chargers begin free agency addressing the trenches. Last season it was the addition of All-Pro Center, Corey Linsley. This year, it’s former Defensive Player of the Year, Khalil Mack. Clearly, Brandon Staley is involved in the personnel decision-making based on his previous relationship with Mack in Chicago. Putting Khalil Mack opposite Joey Bosa puts the Chargers defense at the top of the division. We haven’t even got to JC Jackson yet.

“That was the person that I spent the most time with when I first got to Chicago,” Mack said of Staley. “We would be in the room together going over the playbook. I feel like I had a week to prepare for the Packers — not even a week, maybe like five, six days. It was a quick turnaround, and he was a big part of me consuming a big part of that playbook, which was complicated in the fact of understanding what [former Bears Defensive Coordinator] Vic Fangio likes to do.”

Khalil Mack on Brandon Staley

The Chargers run defense was among the worst in the league last year so building the trenches with ‘Dogs’ was a big focus for Staley and Telesco. They signed Sebastian Joseph-Day who was on the Rams last season. Joseph-Day was a 6th round pick with limited playing time as a rookie. He was also having his best season until he got hurt last season.

“I remember the first time we met, he said something to me that caught me by surprise — I introduced myself and he goes, ‘I know who you are.’ I was like, ‘You do?’ He was like, ‘Yeah, I know who you are. You’re a good player. People don’t know about you yet, but people are going to find out about you real quick. You’re an up-and-coming, great defensive lineman that people are going to find out about,’”

Sebastian Joseph-Day on staley

Another addition to the interior defensive front was Austin Johnson, previously with the Giants and the former 2nd round pick for the Titans. Johnson had his most successful season last year and also saw his most playing time. The Chargers will still look to add depth upfront, they aren’t finished yet. They could look to go defensive lineman in the first round, like Jordan Davis for example? Fresh off a national championship for that nasty Georgia defense.

While the rest of the division continues to focus on offense, the Chargers are reloading on defense. Think of it this way, Patrick Mahomes isn’t facing Justin Herbert on the field, he’s facing the Chargers defense. So while reloading on offense is great, if you want to win this division, defense is going to be key and the Chargers defensive weaponry is elite.