Larry English And The Future Of The Pass Rush

Larry English
Was drafting outside linebacker Larry English in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft a shrewd football move, or an unnecessary one? BoltHype's newest blogger Jeff Williams offers up his take..

On a team who’s best defensive player is an outside linebacker, the Chargers spent their first round pick on... an outside linebacker? Seems pretty stupid at first glance, doesn’t it? While I was hoping we would take a DE like Robert Ayers or an OT like Michael Oher, apparently AJ Smith had something else in mind. I am happy he went with a defensive player in the first round, and the sound of a more vicious pass-rush is music to my ears. I’m still a little worried about our ability to stop the run, but maybe 4th-rounder Vaughn Martin will surprise us.

From what we’re hearing from the Chargers’ brass, Larry English will be more than a backup to Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips. In college he played some defensive end, but he’s already being touted as part of a three-headed monster at linebacker, with Merriman and English rushing off the outside, and Phillips roaming the middle looking for a good angle from which to blitz. And honestly, I do like that sound of that. English was a stud in college, albeit against limited competition. But a stud is a stud - he has the size and the attitude to succeed on the defensive front seven.

The one concerning aspect of his drafting is that it is yet another sign that Merriman is not going to be a Charger for as long as we'd all like him to be. Much has been written about Merriman’s future contract demands, and the Chargers’ concerns about his ability to stay healthy. Add to the mix a capable replacement in English (if everything goes according to plan), and Merriman could be gone before you know it. I think we can safely assume that Lights Out will be a Charger through 2009. What about 2010, even with a franchise tag available? Why would AJ offer him a large 1-year deal, just to see him walk with little compensation in return? If English turns out to be a solid performer, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Merriman franchised in 2010 and his rights be traded to the highest bidder. And who else (besides AJ) wouldn’t offer up the world for a guy like Merriman? Obviously if a new bargaining agreement isn’t worked out before 2010, we have another year before we have to worry about it. But with a guy of Merriman’s caliber, I’m already starting to worry about it.

Maybe the trio of Merriman, Phillips, and English will be so dominant that AJ decides we have to keep the three of them together. Maybe the defense pulls together and wins us the ring we are so desperate for, allowing Merriman and AJ to become close buddies united around that common purpose. Maybe, Larry English was the key to unlocking the door to a championship...or maybe he's here to show Merriman the door. The clock is ticking on that Super Bowl dream.

April 29, 2009

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15 comments:

Anonymous said... Apr 30, 2009, 6:24:00 AM

We have to take it one year at a time right now for Merriman. If English gives us 10 + sacks this year, AJ is a hero. If English makes a game changing play or more helping us win a superbowl, again AJ is a hero. The more we hear about English, the more we have to love the guy. Let's face it our defense was way more of a weak link last year and our offense generally got the job done. Addressing the pass rush truly was priority #1 for the upcoming year.

vic said... Apr 30, 2009, 11:50:00 AM

Ayers wouldn't be a DE in a 3-4, he's too small. He projects as a OLB in the 3-4, except on the Broncos, who seem comfortable with tiny linemen. I don't know their system, but maybe the Broncos play a one-gap 3-4 so their ends rush the passer.

Chargers play a two gap so their ends mostly defend against the run. For that we would need someone about 300 for the ends and 330 for the nose. Some have described the chargers system as a 5-2 where the OLBs play the farthest outside and either rush the passer or drop into coverage.

Anyway, Ayers would have filed the same role as English.

Anonymous said... Apr 30, 2009, 2:40:00 PM

i sware if we get rid of merriman then i'm officialy questioning the bolts organization from a championship perspective. ever since we picked up merriman our defense has been good if not amazing, he's a keeper and if we let him go imma follow him

Anonymous said... Apr 30, 2009, 5:56:00 PM

I know most of you will read this sitting down, but please be forewarned and don't faint; but please realize the Shawn Merriman may actually be more than a little over-rated. Yes, I said it (and I didn't have to get a written okay first from a doctor). He IS a monster in there, a freak in both size and intensity, but much of his success was due to Donnie Edwards initially, and the fact that his play was accentuated by Shaun Phillips rushing strengths. Now he's a bit older, coming off a serious knee surgery and recovery, has some "character" issues in his past, and even some IN the Charger's organization seem to think he may have gone a little "Hollywood" lately. That last part may be a bargaining chip or smoke-screen, but the other stuff is cross-referencable. Bottom line, he can't do it alone and he must be very fast and mobile (along with all the other linebackers) to make our desperately needed defense buck up. Here's hoping, hoping, hoping that Larry English (who does play with great lean and excellent changes-of-direction)can be a bona-fide monster defending the short passes over the middle, as well as the run. We were eaten alive there last year, and while I love how Merriman can collapse a pocket, I doubt him a bit working against the short passing game. At the very least he'll need help, and it won't likely be Tucker, Phillips; and sure as hell not Wilhelm. The mobility and quickness of the entire linebacker corp will make or break the season; and they must play smart. Vaughn is intriguing, and so if Cromartie tries out for the varsity this year too, our Charger's should make the playoffs for sure.

arnie said... Apr 30, 2009, 6:10:00 PM

say what they will about Larry. but when Merriman went out, our defense was "exposed". we got to see what our back-ups were made of, and it wasn't pretty. so the chargers went out and scouted up some talent that "fit" into thier schemes. this translates into a shorter learning curve, and sooner to be playing, than expected.

peace out

Anonymous said... May 1, 2009, 9:55:00 PM

I am in agreement with AJ supporters and believe that English will support this belief. I predict we will have Merriman for at least two more years,,,most likely more. Merriman will doubtfully get a long term deal at this point. Our best bet is a solid performance from him this year, a superbowl, and a franchise tag that turns into a long term deal in 2010. In the event that he has a great+ year in 2009 but no superbowl, we will have to franchise him. If he excels again in 2010 again without a superbowl, his pricetag will likely exceed what the bolts can dish out....dont be confused, we are not the redskins. The majority of us cringe when 'fans' suggest we sign high profile free agents when we know it is not 'our' blueprint.
AJ will make the best decision possible and he has the track record to show it.
Ben Leber -- good call.
Donnie -- good call-guy was top five paid at position and wanted Urlacher money. We all liked the guy but he overvalued himself.
Turner and Brees -- AJ needs work here...see Cassell example and get pick now and get out. The compensatory picks comea year late and we are getting less. If Cassell fetched a 2nd rounder Brees should have fetched the same at minimum and a year earlier to boot. Turner the same deal. AJ was overconfident and over accommodating. In defense I too thought that Brees should have been given his pass but in hind sight it was foolish to let him part without any intial compensation and the eventual compensation that we did get.
Igor -- way underperformed...too bad i was a big fan.
Polk, Neal, McCardell, Oben, Parker, McCree time to move on.
Florence -- overpriced, I will take 4th rounder.
Goff, Harris, Waters--I bet AJ will be right.

Wes Welker--ouch, in defense we had a very reliable Parker and explosive Tim Dwight ,,, hind sight is 20-20.

Go AJ Go....The die hard fans know!!!!!

BobbyB said... May 2, 2009, 4:14:00 PM

with Phillips hunting for a spot to rush in the gaps, that means they will have potentially 6 people to rush at any one time, with Cooper and the SS patrolling the middle of the field, Weddle deep and man coverage on the corners. With 6 rushers, the man coverage will be exciting to watch. I expect a high number of turnovers due to the excellent pass rush and coverage, and this same personnel group, with four LBs on the field, gives us good run support as well.

This is an exciting direction for the Chargers. They are preparing to attack from the defensive side of the ball. We all thought they should draft so and so LB, RB, DE, OT, etc. but after AJ is done, you have to kind of say, "He's smarter than I am when it comes to making football decisions", because he's got the track record. Couple guys yet to pan out, but a couple of great late round/FA pickups that effectively wash it out. This should be a fun group to watch...

Anonymous said... May 5, 2009, 7:42:00 PM

Put Vaughn Martin out of your mind for this season except for when the game is out of reach.
Next year, he will see significant action.
Year 3, a starter, if not replacing Jamal at NT.

dom said... May 7, 2009, 9:04:00 AM

Merriman has two more years left with the Bolts. Assuming he is healthy and has a good year, we'll franchise him next year. After that, well, I'm predicting he will leave. I don't think we'll have the money to make him the richest man in the nfl.

Steve said... May 7, 2009, 5:31:00 PM

I heard English will be a nickel linebacker. Him, Phillips, and Merriman all on the field in a passing situation. Damn, that's some heat!

Anonymous said... May 7, 2009, 10:46:00 PM

quentin jammer to free safety, cromartie and cason as starting corners, vaughn martin, jamal williams and castillo stopping the run and pushing the pocket,
Merriman, phillips and english viciously attacking from the outside
and solid inside linebacker play,

i say defense wins championships and this one looks as good as they come...

Anonymous said... Jun 20, 2009, 5:24:00 PM

"quentin jammer to free safety, cromartie and cason as starting corners, vaughn martin, jamal williams and castillo stopping the run and pushing the pocket,
Merriman, phillips and english viciously attacking from the outside
and solid inside linebacker play,"

I Love the sound of that GANG bustin the place up! They will command respect and be the talk of the league... FEARED even!

Anonymous said... Jun 27, 2009, 10:55:00 AM

I want the Chargers to keep Merriman as much as anybody, but the Chargers have more outstanding players than salary cap space. That's a fact. There is no way them can keep everyone we want them to keep. Also, the player plays a part in whether or not he stays, too. If he wants what the Chargers feel is a ridiculous amount of money to stay, they won't re-sign him. Would you want Merriman at the expense of a bunch of other star players? Believe me, the Chargers would like to re-sign Merriman, too. But they aren't going to screw up their salary cap for one player.

Anonymous said... Jul 1, 2009, 9:41:00 AM

if we give up shawn merriman after all he has done for us, then he deserves to be on a better team that will appreciate his production on the feild...he is a leader!!!!

Anonymous said... Jul 16, 2009, 11:49:00 AM

Suggs just got paid!! Merriman prior to knee surgery is better than Suggs. If he comes back equal or better, it will cost the chargers a pretty penny. For me, it's best to purchase more wheels than just one with the money. So many talented backers out there that can play as a unit........ Hence the Bears!!

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