Joey Bosa is back to help, and Chargers’ defense needs it



He will make $43 million this season and no player in the NFL is scheduled to earn more.

From this lofty financial perch, Joey Bosa offered a priceless assessment of a Chargers defense that might lead the league this season in plays gone unmade.

“When you’re presented opportunities…” Bosa began Thursday, “I’m not asking you to do a cartwheel and then backflip and pick it off between your legs with one arm and then moonwalk into the end zone.

“But, if the ball’s thrown at you, you gotta make plays. I’m not pointing fingers. But if you want to win, you want to be a great team, you gotta call it out and you gotta tell it how it is.

“I always want to say it starts with me because I’m as big a culprit as anybody. Two or three of my sacks this year, you see me holding on for dear life when I easily could reach out and go for the ball. So I need to do a better job with that.”

After missing two games in concussion protocol, Bosa is set to return Sunday when the Chargers face the winless New York Jets at SoFi Stadium.

He’ll rejoin a defense that had multiple chances to intercept Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa but instead allowed the rookie to wiggle free unscathed.

Linebackers Kenneth Murray Jr. and Denzel Perryman and safety Nasir Adderley all had passes within their grasps. Cornerback Michael Davis said he also misplayed a potential pickoff.

“When we’re handed these opportunities we have to take advantage of them because that’s the difference in every one of our games,” Bosa said. “If we turn the tide on two or three of those plays, I think every game could be different this year.”

The Chargers are 2-7, each loss coming by eight points or less. Their inability to produce moments that can significantly alter games continues to be glaring, especially on defense.

The Chargers have just eight takeaways; only Dallas, Green Bay and Houston have fewer.

They have four interceptions and just one from a cornerback. New England’s J.C. Jackson (six) and Miami’s Xavien Howard (five) have more interceptions by themselves.

“We’re seeing guys at least in position now to make plays consistently,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “We didn’t have that earlier. Now, the point is: ‘Now you’re there. Let’s make those plays.’ That’s the next step.”

Of the Chargers’ four fumble recoveries, two belong to linebacker Nick Vigil, who has played only 17 defensive snaps since the season opener. A third came on special teams.

Struggling to generate turnovers has been an issue for the Chargers for two seasons. They were last in the league a year ago with 14 takeaways.

Over the past 17 games, they have produced just 12. The Chargers are 4-13 during that stretch.

General manager Tom Telesco traded two draft picks to move up and select Murray in the first round in April. Athletic and speedy, the rookie stood out as a playmaker at Oklahoma, where he had 36½ tackles for loss in three years.

Murray has yet to make a momentum-shifting impact in the NFL and struggled with communication so badly in a Week 9 defeat to Las Vegas that he was pulled from the game.

“I think there are times when he plays fast and then there are times where it feels like he’s thinking a little bit too much,” Bradley said. “It’s figuring out that dynamic. Anytime you got younger players like that you’re going to go through some growing pains.”

Murray bounced back last weekend and played 52 of 58 defensive snaps in Miami, finishing with four tackles.

But his missed interception was the oddest of all the Chargers’ blown chances. Murray appeared to be positioned perfectly when he reached up and had Tagovailoa’s pass sail between his waiting hands.

Making the situation worse, the ball then was caught by Adam Shaheen, the Dolphins’ third-string tight end, for a 19-yard gain. Shaheen entered the game with only five receptions for the season.

“I don’t know,” Bradley said of the strange-looking play. “Sometimes it kind of makes you scratch your head. I mean, he had his hands close together. I don’t know how the ball fit through there.”

The Chargers had just scored to pull within 17-14 midway through the third quarter. An interception by Murray would have stopped a Miami offense that was driving and given rookie quarterback Justin Herbert the ball right back.

Instead, the Dolphins ended up kicking a field goal on that possession and the Chargers never got closer than six points.

Etc.

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor (ribs) missed his second consecutive practice Thursday. If Taylor is unavailable Sunday, Easton Stick would serve as Herbert’s backup. … Right tackle Bryan Bulaga (back) and cornerback Casey Hayward (ankle) were limited after practicing full Wednesday. Long snapper Cole Mazza (illness) did not practice.





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