There are as many words as positions he can play to describe the exceptional talent of San Diego Chargers outside linebacker Melvin Ingram. Explosive, dynamic, versatile, and instinctive are just a few of them, but they were all a part of the blurry background image that was focused on one weakness in the process leading up to April’s NFL Draft: short arms.
Short arms by NFL standards that is, which means that he’s human and has normal arms to us normal people. However, this knocked him down during the draft because he was no Jason Pierre-Paul. JPP’s 81″ arms are otherworldly, and interestingly enough he was selected only two picks earlier, but Ingram could eventually have a similar impact if he develops as expected. Judging by his first two preseason games, it appears that Ingram has quickly gotten off on the right foot by invading offensive backfields and harassing quarterbacks of all kind.
Thus far, he has one sack to his name in the preseason, but quarterbacks have felt the speed and power of Ingram’s clout as he’s compiled a handful of pressures in numerous ways. In week one against the Green Bay Packers, Ingram startled the left tackle after exploding forward and dipping his shoulder to execute his patented speed rush, which quickly resulted in a hit on quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a subsequent interception.
Seven days later, Ingram made his mark once again, this time against the Dallas Cowboys. However, it wasn’t the speed rush that did the job, as instead it was an inside spin.
The Cowboys were prepared for the speed rush when Ingram entered the game. He lined up in the daunted five-technique, and by lining up an additional player in the backfield (a tight end), Dallas fortified their protection by having someone available who could chip Ingram back inside to the left tackle.
Here’s the issue with the Cowboys’ plan: Ingram saw it coming, and he was also prepared. That’s why when the ball was snapped, Ingram took a step to the outside to sell a speed rush, which then slid the offensive tackle and chip blocker outside. Then he spun back to the inside, where there was no road block, by hitting the blocker with his left and subsequently right elbow.
Again, no sack, but another pressure that forced an incomplete pass by Tony Romo.
A quarter later, the Cowboys tried to match fullback Shaun Chapas, who was a part of the traditional “21″ personnel (2 backs, 1 tight end), in isolation with Ingram, who this time lined up in a nine-technique just to the right of the tight end’s outside shoulder. This meant one-on-one, mano-a-mano with Chapas, and to put it mildly, it didn’t go so well.
When center Harland Gunn gave the ball to quarterback Stephen McGee, Ingram exploded off the line with a quick first step and immediately looked to beat Chapas. He did this by once again using his outside foot, his left, to make it look as if he was going to take an outside path to the passer…
But he wasn’t, and he didn’t. Ingram’s outside foot was once again part of a setup that would ultimately culminate in a free, and shorter path to the quarterback on the inside. With Chapas sliding to the outside, Ingram drove off of his firmly planted outside foot back inside and slapped the overextended blocker down as he went by and got to his prey.
The sack was the first one on Ingram’s stat sheet, but it didn’t mean as much as I initially thought it would because of all the pressures he created in the snaps of the previous games. Unless he becomes Anthony Spencer, Ingram’s pressures should turn into sacks very soon because of his quickness off the snap, his various pass rush moves, and his supercharged motor.
And of course, his short arms, which haven’t been a detriment to his game thus far.