COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Joey Bosa thought when he signed his contract extension in July that it would be a relief.
Instead, more money has created a whole new set of problems for the Los Angeles Chargers defensive end.
“For the last 3-4 years I was playing for the contract. I kind of expected it to take pressure off me like, ‘Oh, man, I got the contract. Now I can just play.’ But no, it kind of is even more pressure,” Bosa said Wednesday. “It feels like I just don’t want to let people down. I’m just trying to live up to expectations for myself and the team the best I can.”
Bosa signed a five-year, $135 million extension in late July, making him the league’s highest-paid defensive player. He is off to his best start in five years with four sacks in five games. He is also tied for the league lead among defensive ends in quarterback pressures (18) and hits (10) despite dealing with triceps, ankle and knee issues over the past four weeks.
Bosa suffered the triceps injury in the opener at Cincinnati and it has affected his lifting along with keeping him out of Wednesday practices. He said the bigger issue the past week was the ankle sprain that happened on Oct. 4 at Tampa Bay because it affected turning and cornering during pass rushes.
The good news is that the injuries haven’t sidelined Bosa. The bad news is that he has been part of a unit that has squandered three double-digit leads over the past four weeks. The Chargers are the first team since the 2003 Atlanta Falcons to blow leads of 17 points or more in consecutive games after last Monday’s 30-27 overtime loss at New Orleans.
The rallies by Tampa Bay and New Orleans the past two weeks have been frustrating.
“I think it really just comes down to execution,” he said. “It’s not want to. Everybody is giving great effort and everybody wants to win, but we’re not making the plays and not executing the way we have to do to win at the end of the game.”
Besides reviewing tape of recent games, Bosa is using the bye week to heal while hoping some of his teammates can return over the next couple of weeks. Bosa also noted that his brother, San Francisco defensive end Nick Bosa, is spending time with him after having season-ending surgery on his left knee.
The Chargers are off to their second 1-4 start in Anthony Lynn’s four years as coach but have a favorable stretch with only one team over .500 over the next five weeks. Los Angeles’ next game is Oct. 25 against Jacksonville. The last time the Chargers started 1-4, they won eight of their last 11 games and narrowly missed the playoffs. Bosa is hoping for the same type of turnaround again.
“I think it’s just about taking it one game at a time. I think a first goal should be just trying to get to back to 4-4 and be at .500 halfway through the season,” he said. “Everything we want is still in front of us. But you know, we have to do things differently. We have to finish at the end of the game. And I think once we do and once we prove it to ourselves and to each other that we can, games will start stacking up on each other.”