Simply put: most likely and that’s a good thing.  Being married to a particular style or playbook is what gets you in trouble if it doesn’t fit the talent you have on the field.   The Chargers have built their defense around the 3-4.  But a revolving door at OLB due to injuries and players leaving, has overshadowed a bit the development of their young defensive line.  It’s been well documented on this site as well as here and here, that Corey Liuget, Kendall Reyes and Cam Thomas are a young and impressive group on the verge of a breakout year.  The signs were there last December, when this front ate up a very mediocre Jets offensive line.  Good players win matchups with players they should beat, great players go above that and are a threat to beat anyone on any given play.

This year should tell us how close Liuget and Co are to being good or great.  Given Mike McCoys’ approach to doing what his players do best, the focus should shift to creating favorable matchups for his best players.  While Dwight Freeney played OLB last year and had some success, it makes sense to build looks into this defense to put him in a position where he’s been a Hall of Fame caliber player.  The one thing that keeps coming to mind is the New York Giants infamous “NASCAR package”.  Putting their fastest players on the D-line and allowing them to pin their ears back and go, helped drive them to two Super Bowl victories.  Let’s put our 4 best D-Lineman on the field and see what happens.  With the size of Liuget and Reyes, Pagano has the flexibility to run a 4 man front moving either inside with Cam Thomas.

Of course the Chargers will need a nickname for this look.  For the sake of throwing something out there and seeing if it sticks, let’s call it the thunder and lightning package.  Might not be as clean, but the speed, size and tenacity of this group seems to blend well with that name.

 

Justin Holmerud

 

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