Mark Gaughan's X's and O's: Limiting Bosa-Ingram duo is do or die for Bills - The Buffalo News

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Mark Gaughan's X's and O's: Limiting Bosa-Ingram duo is do or die for Bills

Credit Los Angeles Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco with trusting his eyes, not his stopwatch, before the 2016 NFL Draft.

Ohio State defensive end Joey Bosa ran a poor time of 4.86 seconds in the 40-yard dash during the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine.

Jadeveon Clowney, the top pick in 2014 and the same weight as Bosa coming out of college, ran 4.53. Khalil Mack, the fourth pick in 2014, ran 4.65.

Granted, everybody rated Bosa near the top of the draft. But Telesco didn't second-guess himself and took Bosa No. 3 overall.

“I was actually happy when he ran a 4.86," Telesco, the Hamburg native, told the Chargers' website after the draft. "I thought if he ran a 4.65 there would definitely be no way we could get him at three. I thought it was great. I was happier than everybody else, but I kept that to myself. The measurables mean a lot to us, and they are important. His get-off quickness in his 10-yard split, three-cone and short shuttle; they were all really pretty elite numbers."

Bosa quickly has turned into the third best pass rusher in the NFL, behind only Denver's Von Miller and Oakland's Mack. Houston's J.J. Watt is in that conversation, but he's injured.

Bosa has 9.5 sacks this season and 20 in his first 21 NFL games, the most by any player in history.

He also has teamed with Melvin Ingram to form the most productive edge-rushing duo in the NFL. Those two have 20 sacks this season and 36.5 since the start of last year, both tops in the NFL.

The Buffalo Bills' offense really, really does not want to get off schedule Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.

Off schedule means third and 11. Off schedule means behind by 10 points or more. It's the mode the Bills have been in while getting blown out the past two games. Bosa and Ingram are the Chargers' No. 1 strength, and they will feast if the Bills are in catch-up mode.

Mark Gaughan's Big Play Breakdown: Twist stunt by Chargers Bosa & Ingram

Bosa is scary because he's 6-foot-6 and 280 pounds, yet he has the speed to get around the edge. Ingram is one of the league's top undersized edge rushers, at 6-2, 247. Bosa and Ingram both excel at speed-to-power moves in which they push the blocker back into the QB. Both make quick lateral cuts that are great on twist stunts.

"They can just dominate a game," Bills guard Richie Incognito said. "Bosa is fast-twitch, high-motor, very explosive. Ingram has come along. When he first came into the league, he was trying to figure out how to be a pass rusher. I think transitioning to that stand-up outside-linebacker end, he has blossomed. When both those guys line up on the same side, you know something is coming."

It's important for the guard and tackle to stay even – side by side – rather than be staggered when handling the twist-stunt tactic.

"Different levels – that's a stunt-killer right there," said guard Vlad Ducasse, meaning it's the way to get killed by a stunt.

Taking a page out of the Patriots playbook is one option for the Bills' offense as rookie QB Nathan Peterman takes over. Tom Brady racked up 333 passing yards on the Chargers by avoiding the Chargers' strength and getting the ball out of his hands fast.

Twenty of Brady's 32 completions went to backs or tight ends. Brady was 25 of 28 on passes within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage.

The 30,000-foot view: The Chargers' move to Los Angeles has been a disaster from a fan-support perspective. Of course, the move was all about revenue and a new stadium in Los Angeles, not about the fans. The new stadium is due to open in 2020. Until then, the Chargers are playing in a 27,000-seat soccer stadium, the StubHub Center. For the Chargers' past two home games – against Philadelphia and Denver – at least 60 percent of the fans were rooting for the visitors. When Miami played in LA, about 7,000 fans were dressed in Dolphins colors. All the games have been sold out, but it appears most tickets sold on secondary markets are gobbled up by opposing fans. A paid-attendance sellout is about 25,400. The Chargers don't count about 1,600 other comp and disability-compliant seats.

Former Bills interim coach Anthony Lynn says he's where he wants to be with Chargers

Did you know? Chargers founding owner Alex Spanos is a self-made billionaire. He was broke in 1951 when he took out an $800 bank loan and started selling bologna sandwiches to migrant workers in the Stockton, Calif., area. In five years, Spanos was providing 7,000 meals a day to farm workers and making $600,000 (the equivalent of $5.5 million in 2017 dollars).

Game-breakers: In long down and distances, the Chargers have used a NASCAR package eight times in recent weeks. That's when Bosa, Ingram, 6-5, 236-pounder Chris McCain and 6-3, 252-pounder Jeremiah Attaochu all line up as stand-up rushers. McCain, undrafted in 2014, has 5.0 sacks. If you see the NASCAR front four on the field, things are not going well for the Bills.

Weak link: The Bills' suffering run defense faces a LA team ranked 26th in rushing yards. The commitment to run has been lacking, which is surprising, given head coach Anthony Lynn's run-first tenure in Buffalo. The Chargers are passing 61.5 percent of their plays, 10th most, even though they haven't been blown out. The pass blocking of the offensive line has been good this year. But the run blocking, especially center Spencer Pulley and right guard Kenny Wiggins, has been poor. Lead back Melvin Gordon has been miserable in two of his last three games, managing 38 yards on 18 carries vs. Denver and 27 on 16 at Jacksonville. In between, he gained 132 on 14 carries at New England. Undrafted Austin Ekeler ran well vs. the Jaguars. The duo may split time vs. the Bills.

Misleading stat: LA ranks last in the NFL in run defense, but the Chargers have been much improved the past month. The first five games, they allowed 161 rushing yards a game. The past four – if you take away a 56-yard gain on a fake punt by Jacksonville last week – they've allowed just 88.5 a game. Leonard Fournette was held to 33 yards on 17 carries last week. The big difference was inside linebacker Denzel Perryman returned from injury to stabilize the middle.

Pass the torch: Second-year tight end Hunter Henry, a second-round pick, is taking over for 37-year-old Antonio Gates. Henry has 24 catches, Gates 18. Henry is playing about 45 snaps a game lately, Gates about 23.

Stat for the road: The Chargers are No. 1 in the NFL in red-zone defense, thanks to quick pressure and zone coverage. Teams are scoring TDs on 34 percent of trips inside the 20.

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