Over a month ago the San Diego Chargers drafted defensive end Joey Bosa with their third overall pick. Along with Bosa the Chargers drafted two more defensive players. One of them was Bosa’s running mate at Ohio State, Joshua Perry. These look to be great additions combined with the free agent signings of defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and safety Dwight Lowery.
Some Chargers fans are clamoring for the Chargers to switch defensive schemes. I’ll tell you why this can not and will not happen anytime soon. First, I’ll tell you the difference between the two schemes. For the purpose of this piece it will just be a base 3-4 scheme versus the base 4-3 scheme. After this I will give my opinion on why switching schemes wouldn’t be beneficial for the Bolts moving forward.
I’ve stated in a previous article (Bolt Up For Bosa) that the Chargers only run their base scheme about 50% of defensive snaps. It’s these 50% of snaps I will be focusing on. That being said what is a 3-4 defense? It has been used famously by Bum Phillips, the father of Wade Phillips.
Used by the Houston Oilers in the 70’s, it’s predicated on pressure by overwhelming the offensive line with multiple attacking defensive players. If used correctly this scheme can be virtually unstoppable. This was defensive scheme used most brilliantly by the Denver Broncos to defeat the Carolina Panthers in this past years’ Super Bowl.
The 3-4 was the staple of Dick LeBeau’s defense which helped drive multiple teams to Super Bowl appearances. Lebeaus’ defense has yielded two wins and four losses in the Super Bowl. In New England, the 3-4 has been the driving force behind the Patriots dynasty. Yes, Tom Brady has made his throws but its been the defense that’s given the Patriots four Super Bowl titles in 15 years.
Breaking it down the 3-4 consists of three down linemen and four linebackers. The four linebackers have endless possibilities on how they can be placed. There’s a multitude of packages to utilize. This makes the 3-4 a hard defense to plan against. With four linebackers you don’t know who is blitzing or who is dropping back in coverage. The point of a 3-4 defense is mismatches. It’s built to stop the run and apply endless amount of pressure on the opposing teams’ offensive line. In theory, the Chargers should be good at run-stopping although this has been the Achilles’ heel of the defense over the past several years.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 3-4 defense.
So how will the Chargers look defensively? Let’s start with the defensive line. At left defensive end will be Corey Liuget. Anchoring the middle will be nose tackle Brandon Mebane. At right defensive end will be Joey Bosa. At weak side outside linebacker will be Jerry Attaochu. The inside linebacker will be Manti Te’o. The middle linebacker will be Denzel Perrymen. The strong side linebacker will be Melvin Ingram.
Anchoring the back end of the defense from left to right will be left cornerback Jason Verrett. At Free Safety will be Dwight Lowery. Next to him will be strong safety Jahleel Addae. The right cornerback will be Brandon Flowers. Keep in mind this is how it stands right now. A lot depends on training camp and if the Chargers sign other free agents.
So now know how the Chargers will run their basic 3-4 defense. What is a 4-3 defense? The base 4-3 first came to us under Tom Landry when he was the Giants defensive coordinator in the 1950’s. He then made it even more famous with the Dallas Cowboys and through their vaunted “Doomsday” defense. Ever since, there’s been multiple variations of the scheme from the Bill Parcells stack defense to the Wide-9 defense famously used by the Philadelphia Eagles.
On to the basis of the 4-3. It’s four down linemen and three linebackers. In its most basic form the four down linemen will always have their hands in the ground and be in pursuit of whomever has the ball. The three linebackers are in charge of coverage in this base defense although they may blitz in certain packages.
Here’s a diagram of a basic 4-3 defense.
The Chargers run a variation of the 4-3 in a hybrid nickel package. The nickel package features Melvin Ingram and Jerry Attaochu with their hands in the dirt. The 3-4 defense has been implemented since 2001 when Marty Schottenheimer took over as head coach. Since then the Chargers have had a few dominant defenses in ’06, ’07, ’09 and 2010. Its been proven very effective when the right pieces are in place. In 2016 this is such the case. My main reason for this belief is Joey Bosa and the signing of cornerback Casey Hayward. The Hayward addition was an amazing pick up.
It’s all about the anchor of the 3-4, the nose tackle. A viable anchor is something the Chargers have lacked for so long. Since the days of Jamal Williams its been a revolving door at this position. Brandon Mebane probably didn’t make headlines to the casual Chargers fan. I believe this is the most underrated pickup of the whole offseason. Mebane can garner double- and sometimes even triple-teams.
This defense, hell, this whole team is going too shock a lot of people. As I said earlier the 3-4 requires almost pure selflessness from its three down linemen. It starts with Mebane. I may call him Bane by seasons’ end. If you know Batman then you understand the reference. Its been five years in the making with this defense. Why change philosophies now when this defense is so close to grasping greatness? Its proven to be a dominant defense in the past. It can and will be for years to come.
You always hear the saying “defense wins championships” in sports; specifically in professional football. Even though last night wasn’t a championship game and it ended in a loss, there is still a lot of promise for the Chargers defensive unit.
Injuries have crippled the team, specifically the defense, all season long; five defensive starters alone were inactive for the Miami blowout. The bye week mended the bruised unit and allowed for well-needed adjustments. That being said, John Pagano was able to bring his team to greater heights after week 10. Last night’s game proved all doubters and naysayers.
The Chargers entered the game ranked no. 8th in overall defense; a very impressive number considering previous sub-mediocre seasons. Frankly, I don’t think Pagano is done in San Diego just yet. Not only did the defense prove their worth, they did it against a 9-3 Patriots no. 6th ranked offense. The defensive unit had one sack by outside linebacker Melvin Ingram, an interception by linebacker Manti Te’o, and a game changing force fumble by safety Jahleel Addae that was picked up and taken to house by safety Darrell Stuckey. However, it was Ingram who impressed everyone with his hustle and ability.
Ingram finished the game with a total of five tackles, one sack, two stuffs, and a pass defended. He embarrassed the Patriots guard’s all night with his speed and reminded the team and fans of how much he was missed earlier this season. With him on the field, the defense is strikingly better. If Ingram can remain healthy, the likelihood of him becoming a Charger’s captain and leader looks extremely hopeful.
Another noteworthy performance was by Pro Bowler safety Eric Weddle. With a total of seven tackles, Weddle covered tightened Rob Gronkowski almost all night; frustrating the 6’6 brute. Gronkowski only averaged 10.9 yards per reception; the third lowest of his season. He was also held to just one touchdown and eight receptions. Can we say Weddle for Pro Bowl 2015?
If that wasn’t enough, the defensive unit continuously frustrated Tom Brady. I’m sure everyone saw him sitting on the field, throwing his hands up in what appeared to be curse words coming from his mouth after giving up his seventh interception of the year. Brady finished the game with a passer rating of 90.8; his fourth lowest of the season. The Chargers defense also held Brady and company to a few major stops in the red zone and at least four three-and-outs in the second half.
In addition, the Patriots were also held to just 23 points. Every win on the Patriot’s season, except against the Oakland Raiders, has had a score of 27 or more points; the Pats’ entered the game averaging 29.9 points a game. Tom Brady even said during the post game interview that their defense helped them to victory.
Overall, Charger fans should be extremely proud of how well the defense executed. There’s no question it was the best performance of the season. If the offense can get back to the basics, adjust, and come into the Denver game as top performing offensive unit, aided by a stellar defense, there is no doubt that the Chargers can defeat the Broncos. A win will not only increase their chances for a playoff wildcard, it may even grant them the opportunity of claiming the AFC West; something that hasn’t been done since 2009. Continue to support the Super Chargers because there is still a lot of football left.
Look, I am as angry as the next Chargers fan. I debated all day whether I needed to write a glass half full or half empty article. There are plenty of writers for various media outlets are going to handle the sky is falling part of this reaction. Believe me, I think this is a worse loss than any in the former coach’s era. At least we got two field goals in the 7-6 2012 loss to the Cleveland Browns. The last coach never once got blanked. This effort was so bad, and this team looked like something I had never seen from a Rivers-led Chargers team. They looked helpless.
Eric Weddle and Kennan Allen have already started calling out teammates, and with good reason.
Check some things I saw online just after the game.
“Can’t say this in an elite QB anymore.”
“The window is closing on this team.”
“You can’t compete without a pass rush.”
“That O-line is a shambles, and is going to get their quarterback killed.”
Wait a second…Those statements were not about the Chargers – Dolphins game, they were about New England after they got their asses handed to them by the Chiefs in KC.
Internet comments were hilarious of course look at a few I pulled from that night on Profootballtalk.com:
“The 2nd worst team in the NFL besides jokeland and yes the jags would beat the patriots.”
“Man, the Pats are awful. Talk about overrated. Sadly they will still make the playoffs just because their division is so bad.”
And my favorite:
“It’s time for Tom Brady to retire he sucks now. This defense is overhyped. They would be lucky to win 8 games this year the dynasty is over. It’s time to start Jimmy Garoppolo he can’t do any worse than garbage Brady.”
Was the Patriots loss to KC as bad as The Chargers loss to Miami?
Sure, the Brady Bunch had two touchdowns. (7 of those points from a TD thrown by rookie back-up Jimmy Garappolo). I would argue that it was just as bad mostly because of the national stage on Monday night football. The 27 point defeat was the second largest of Brady’s career, behind only a 31-0 loss to the Buffalo Bills on opening day 2003. The Chiefs had 303 yards of offense in the first half, the most of any game coached in the Belichick era.
So why do I want Chargers fans thinking about the Brady Bunch now?
Five weeks since the game that Pats fans called the Monday Night Massacre, the Patriots have the number one spot on the NFL.com power rankings a spot held five weeks ago by your San Diego Chargers. In that time they have won five games, three of which they won by 20 points or more.
Several of the last couple Super winning teams including the Ravens, Packers and Giants suffering humiliating beat downs before getting hot the right time of year.
The Chargers can and will fix the issues that lead to this humiliating loss. It is important to note that this has happened to many good teams before. The Patriots were left for dead just five weeks ago. If you are a bandwagon fan, I can see why you might be ready to throw dirt on the Bolts.
There is a lot of football ahead, and, to be honest, the team was worse off this time last year. Don’t be like those jokers calling to bench Brady. The Chargers can turn this around.
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David Agranoff is a diehard Bolt fan. He is the wonderland award nominated author of three novels. Hunting the Moon Tribe, The Vegan Revolution…With Zombies and his latest Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich. You can get his novels on amazon and follow his musings on horror fiction, the Chargers and his NBA team the Portland Trailblazers on Twitter @DAgranoffauthor.