According to multiple sources, Brandon Flowers has agreed to a four-year deal with the Chargers. The deal if expected to be signed this week. That makes the defensive backfield one aspect of the Chargers everyone should be excited about. With Flowers returning to the Bolts and a healthy Jason Verrett, the Chargers have a very exciting and dynamic cornerback tandem. Add to that a safety team of Eric Weddle and Jahleel Addae, depth is the only concern in the secondary.
With the free agency period beginning in less than 48 hours, Flowers got his wish and didn’t have to test the free agent market. The second-highest rated cornerback on nfl.com’s top 101 free agents reportedly agreed to a four-year, $36 million deal, solidifying what I think should be the starting four in the defensive backfield. In 14 games in 2014, Flowers made 48 tackles, had three interceptions and 10 passes defensed.
Flowers brings versatility to the defensive backfield, as he can play either corner position and also cover the slot receiver. His experience proved valuable in the development of Verrett last year.
Couple Flowers with a healthy Jason Verrett and you have a pretty darn solid cornerback tandem. In only six games before being injured, Verrett had 19 tackles, one interception (a game-winning pick in Oakland) and four passes defensed. More importantly than the numbers, Verrett played without fear. He didn’t seem intimidated at all by the pro game. Re-signing Flowers and getting Verrett back may make Shaereece Wright expendable, or at the very least, drop him on the depth chart.
What do you think of the Flowers agreement?
Next Tuesday, the NFL free agency period will officially begin and we will watch the flurry of defections and signings like a wreck on the highway, unable to avert our eyes. The Chargers have a lot of holes to fill and there are many attractive names out there with more becoming available every day. Unlike previous seasons, the Chargers have a commodity they’re not used to; money.
Before accounting for cutting their own free agents, the Chargers already have in excess of 25 million in cap space to sign free agents. With the raising of the salary cap by another two million and recent retirements of favorites Nick Hardwick and Jarrett Johnson, the Chargers will have over 30 million to spend before the wheeling and dealing begins. This is a very exciting time to be a Chargers fan. We’re used to the front office having to shop out of the bargain basement for players. This offseason they get to pick from the brand names.
One of the pressing areas of need will be the secondary. The Chargers need to re-sign cornerback Brandon Flowers to solidify one side of the field. Flowers was the highest rated cornerback in the league before he was injured, cutting his season short after 14 games with a groin injury and a concussion. Chargers 2014 first round draft pick Jason Verrett served as an excellent complimentary corner until he was injured and lost for the season after five games with a torn labrum.
The depth chart is pretty thin when you consider cornerbacks Shareece Wright and Marcus Gilchrist are also free agents who could be lost as well. With that in mind, I submit a very attractive option, Byron Maxwell of the Seattle Seahawks.
A member of the vaunted ‘Legion Of Boom’ secondary, Maxwell is a few days from being up for grabs and the Chargers would significantly upgrade their secondary with his addition. Maxwell (6’1, 207) is a longer, taller option at cornerback than the Chargers have on their roster right now. Whether by design or by coincidence, the bolts don’t have a single player in their secondary over six feet tall. Maxwell excels in press coverage and would give defensive coordinator John Pagano a lot more options with the game plan.
General Manager Tom Telesco will like the intangibles Maxwell brings to the table. A sixth round pick in 2011, the 27-year old Maxwell has many more years in the tank playing at a high level, barring injury. Paired with Verrett and Flowers, the Chargers would suddenly have one of the most formidable secondaries in the league with perennial All-Pro Eric Weddle holding down the safety position.
Although the market for Maxwell will be fierce, his price may not be as high as some expect. Being part of the Legion Of Boom may hurt his value as he was seen as a part of the whole, not exactly an individual standout. This will be his first big money contract and he will be eager to show that he is not just a ‘system’ cornerback. There’s no doubt Telesco can give him a deal that satisfies his percieved worth and is good for the team cap-wise. The Chargers should definitely apply the full court press to get Maxell out of Seattle and into lightning bolts.
The Greg One
In case you slept through Friday, unplugged for the day or live under a rock, you’ve heard Kansas City’s QB Alex Smith won’t play Sunday against the Chargers due to a lacerated spleen. What you may have missed is that this does not change anything on Sunday.
Chase Daniel, Kansas City’s backup QB, will start in Alex Smith’s place. Last year, with a playoff berth already secured, Daniel started the season finale in San Diego with 19 other backups, a game in which the Chargers narrowly escaped with a 27-24 overtime victory. In that game, Daniel connected on 21 of 30 pass attempts for 200 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions. Jamal Charles sat out that game, but Knile Davis ran 27 times for 81 yards. Daniel added 59 yards of his own on the ground.
That said, a Charger victory in this season’s regular season finale in Kansas City is not a foregone conclusion. Last year, everyone said that with KC’s backups, it would be a cake game. Far be it from me to throw ice water on the pom pom parade, but a loss in Kansas City ends the 2014 season for San Diego. Lock, stock and barrel.
The key to this game is in the hands of John Pagano and the Charger defense. In all reality, the game plan should remain the same: stop Jamal Charles and you stop the KC offense. Make the quarterback beat you. Rewind to Week 16 in San Francisco. Take away Colin Kaepernick’s 90-yard run in the 3rd quarter which featured glaring whiffs by both Melvin Ingram and Eric Weddle, the defense made the right adjustments and stymied San Francisco’s running game.
Easier said than done
How to stop Charles, you ask? It’s easier said than done, but Pagano needs to put eight in the box. These eight men (front-7 plus the aforementioned Weddle) need to maintain gap discipline. The front three need to tie blockers up (HINT: Chargers need a stud NT like they had in Jamal Williams). ILBs Mantei T’eo, Donald Butler, Andrew Gachkar and Kavell Conner need to be clean and crisp in their tackling. Whiffs cannot happen. And the proper angles toward opposing ball carriers must be taken.
Billy, don’t be a hero
Chargers defenders need to tackle, tackle and tackle some more. Heroism is not appropriate, and may be idiotic when it comes to proper tackling. First man, or two, to get a hand on the ball carrier need to wrap him up, then let the cavalry come in for the strip. All too often, it seems the first man to the runner goes for the ball instead of the tackle. Get the runner on the ground, limit the big plays and play for the third down stop.
Secondly, stop the pass
Concussion protocols notwithstanding, Shareece Wright needs to take a back seat to Steve Williams. Against San Francisco, the ball was thrown in Williams’ direction six times for three completions and a pedestrian 15 yards. I think it’s safe to say that’s a better performance than Wright has produced. With eight in the box, the Chargers’ corners and safeties, Flowers and Williams/Wright/Gilchrist/Addae, et al. will have to play press man coverage. The defense is better when Pagano employs press coverage.
The key to beating the Chiefs and advancing to the postseason is to stop Jamal Charles. It’s that simple, kids. Force Chase Daniel, with limited reps, to have to try to beat the Chargers. Do this, and they’ll advance to the Wild Card Round.
Thanks for reading!
As I have stated each time I write the Charger injury report articles, I hate doing these. Quite honestly, it’s depressing. This week is just as bad but it seems to be just as expected when it comes to the game status of each individual.
RB – Ryan Mathews ( Ankle )
P – Mike Scifres ( Shoulder/Clavicle )
WR – Keenan Allen ( Ankle/Collarbone )
C/G – Chris Watt ( Ankle )
DT/DE – Corey Liuget ( Ankle )
QB – Philip Rivers ( Chest/Back/Ribs )
CB – Shareece Wright ( Concussion )
Sadly, it was expected that Ryan Mathews would miss this week’s game. Despite Mike McCoy claiming that he hoped both Mathews and Keenan Allen would play, everyone had their doubts. With Allen having a fractured collarbone and injured ankle, I’m not sure why it was brought up that he might play. Listing him as doubtful seems “interesting” to me. Another non-surprise was that Scifres would not be able to play. Thanks again, Donald Brown.
Chris Watt has flashed some true ability during his play as a center. He has made some rookie mistakes, but that can be expected due to the fact that he has never played center prior to this season. Getting him back would be very helpful. Trevor Robinson filled in admirably but even having Watt for depth would be nice.
Was there any doubt as to whether Philip Rivers would play on Sunday against the Chiefs? Not only is he the toughest quarterback in the NFL, it would be fair to debate whether or not he’s the toughest player at any position. Battling multiple ailments, Rivers is a gamer and he knows what’s on the line in week 17.
Although he was replaced by a capable Steve Williams, getting Shareece Wright back from a concussion helps the secondary. With Jason Verrett already lost for the year, the more healthy corners there are, the better. Despite the solid performance from Williams against the 49ers, expect Wright to be inserted back into the starting lineup.
The Chargers have been banged up all year. After losing players like Danny Woodhead and Nick Hardwick to injured reserve, among others, the injuries have continued to pile up. Is anyone sick of hearing “Next man up?” Quite frankly, they have been rather successful by using this mantra and getting reserve players ready to contribute and even start in games. This week is no different. Now go get this W and earn your way into the playoffs.
San Diego is locked and loaded after resting through their bye week. League-mandated days off allowed them to travel or just stay home and rest. Because it was the bye week, I began to think about the current team and who would remain in 2015. I figured I would check out who was in the last year of their contract and who was extended beyond the 2015 season.
The list of players in the final year of their contracts, otherwise known as their contract year, was a bit longer than I had anticipated. Below is a list of those players.
WR – Seyi Ajirotutu
RB – Ronnie Brown
OT – King Dunlap
CB – Brandon Flowers
OLB – Dwight Freeney
ILB – Andrew Gachkar
CB – Marcus Gilchrist
C – Nick Hardwick
OLB – Cordarro Law
C/G – Doug Legursky
DL – Ricardo Mathews
C/G – Rich Ohrnberger
WR – Eddie Royal
CB – Shareece Wright
RB – Ryan Mathews
There are some major players on this list that would leave major holes in the team if they were not re-signed.
Brandon Flowers was one of the best free agent signings in the entire NFL after he was released by the Kansas City Chiefs. He has made a huge impact in the secondary for John Pagano’s defense. I would imagine that Tom Telesco would make a serious effort to sign him to a contract once the time comes in 2015.
King Dunlap has been playing pretty darn well at left tackle. The only problem with keeping him is that he may be looking to be rewarded with a big contract due to his performance since coming to San Diego. Telesco will have the most money he’s had since accepting the role of General Manager when the 2015 offseason begins. If Dunlap keeps playing at a high level, there’s a good chance that he will remain a Charger.
Can you imagine the special teams units without Seyi Ajirotutu and Andrew Gachkar? Darrell Stuckey may be the captain of the third phase of the game, but both Tutu and Gachkar are key cogs in the coverage phases of special teams. Andrew has seen a big increase in playing time at inside linebacker due to the fractured foot of Manti Te’o. He has been playing his heart out.
The sorting out of the center position next year is very interesting. With Nick Hardwick on injured-reserve, Rich Ohrnberger fighting back problems, Chris Watt has seen some time at center. Both Nick and Rich will be free agents at the beginning of the 2015 league year. Hardwick has already contemplated retirement in years past. It is hard to say if we have seen the last of him in lightning bolts. Or maybe it isn’t. Many people do not expect him to come back. Watt may be the future at either center or right guard. The center spot will be something to keep an eye on following 2014.
Eddie Royal has proven to be a playmaker and solid weapon for Philip Rivers. He also sees a lot of time as the team’s punt returner. He has a solid relationship with Rivers and he helped in the recruiting of Flowers to the Bolts. He is good in the slot and he provides a contrasting style to that of starting wideouts Keenan Allen and Malcom Floyd. I have a feeling that he may be re-signed.
Marcus Gilchrist is currently San Diego’s starting strong safety. After moving from cornerback to his current position, Gilchrist has made some plays but he isn’t necessarily irreplaceable. Some media members expected him to be a possible cut during the 2014 offseason. If the play of Jahleel Addae continues on the upswing, and he gets fully healthy, the chances of Marcus being re-signed may decrease exponentially.
While examining the corner situation, Shareece Wright is another starter that is in his contract year. He has improved quite a bit since coming into the league. If the Chargers are unable to keep Brandon Flowers, Wright is almost guaranteed to remain a Charger in 2015 and beyond. But if both Flowers and Jason Verrett are other available options, I’m not so sure that Shareece stays in America’s finest city. I hope that he does as I enjoy watching his physicality in the running game and his coverage skills continue to get better as he becomes more experienced in the NFL.
This next one is the toughest one for me. I don’t even like writing about this subject when it comes to this player.
Let me begin by saying that I hope Ryan Mathews remains a Charger for life. He is, without a doubt, the best back on the current roster and his hard-charging, physical running style makes the San Diego offense better. He had a fantastic 2013 year in which he finished seventh in the league in rushing yardage. His MCL sprain in week 2 against Seattle has really affected the Charger offense. He is about to return and do everything in his power to help earn a future contract with the Bolts. He is a threat as a receiving option out of the backfield and he has improved as a pass blocker when called upon to do so in effort to keep Rivers clean and safe while in the pocket.
There are a lot of questions surrounding which players will be re-signed for 2015 and beyond. It goes without saying that the extra cap space Telesco will have should help in retaining the guys that he believes deserve to stay. The question is, who does he want to keep? He has quite some time to think this over. But there are going to be a lot of difficult decisions.
Thanks a lot for reading.
It is no secret that the San Diego Chargers have been decimated by injuries. On offense the team has lost major players for the year in Nick Hardwick and Danny Woodhead. Both are key cogs in an offensive system that focuses on ball control, key offensive line adjustments and the short-passing game. I have no doubt that Philip Rivers wishes they were healthy and able to return. Ryan Mathews has missed significant time as he hasn’t played since the week 2 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. Heck, even Donald Brown missed a few games with a concussion but recently came back. The running game has been very unlucky when it comes to staying healthy.
On defense, Melvin Ingram was put on the injured-reserve with a designation to return. He is eligible to come back in week 11. The jury is still out as to whether or not he’ll be ready at that time. Also in the linebacking corps, Manti Te’o fractured his foot in the week 3 contest against the Bills. The team has been rather quiet — as they are with all injuries — on the timetable for Te’o to get back on the field.
When looking at the secondary, Brandon Flowers, Jason Verrett and Shareece Wright have all suffered through a variety of injuries. Verrett could be out for quite a while with a torn labrum. Safety Jahleel Addae suffered a nasty concussion and stinger in the loss against the Broncos at Mile High.
The list of the injured goes on and on. It goes without saying that Mike McCoy’s mantra of “Next man up” has been put to the test week in and week out.
The bye week is much-needed to provide time for the players to heal up and hopefully come back stronger than ever in week 11 against the Oakland Raiders.
Injury relief is not all that is helped by the bye. The Chargers must regroup and work out the kinks that have led to a three-game losing streak. The coaching staff must put their heads together and figure out schemes on both offense and defense that are conducive to success. Regardless of which players are hurt, they need to find a way to put the players in the best situations to succeed. The coaches know the squad’s strengths and weaknesses. They have to take the strengths and accentuate them in an attempt to avoid showcasing their flaws. Getting back to the basics and going over football fundamentals is crucial for the next seven games.
The season is not lost by any means. There are still seven games left and the bye week’s timing could not be better. The opportunity for the Bolts to turn around what was a promising season that has slowed after losing three straight is just what the doctor ordered. It is “mirror-time” in San Diego. There is no time for the club to hang their heads and feel sorry for themselves. Now is the time to find a way to get back on track and compete in what has become a very competitive AFC.
I am very interested to see how the Chargers respond after this respite. And it all continues in week 11 with another divisional game against the hated Raiders.
We are all about to find out what the team is made of and I cannot wait to see them back on the turf. It is time for the leaders of this team to stand up and right this ship. I expect them to rebound, but the schedule is brutal after the Raider and Ram games. It is time to Bolt Up or shut up. I prefer to Bolt Up.
Thanks a lot for reading.
So, I find myself asking this question for the second year in a row. Last year we had injuries and no depth. This year we have depth, but even more injuries and at so many key positions depth doesn’t matter. Let’s look at the facts.
- Hardwick and Woodhead are out for the year after 2 games (and 1 carry in the 3rd game)
- Te’o, Mathews, Ingram have missed 6 weeks starting after the 2nd and 3rd game of the year
- The decline of Donald Butler (as Michael Gehlken pointed out, the Te’o injury has forced Butler to play out of position)
- Injuries to Fluker, Flowers, Addae, Verrett, Wright, Attaochu, Brown, Ohrnberger, Walker, and Williams (all of whom have missed time)
- Not to mention losing our true NT Geathers in the preseason
I look at that list and again wonder if the Chargers are better than they should be. We are 5-4 and at this point and have an opportunity to get healthy at the bye. Keep in mind this is a team that beat the Super Bowl Champs (yes their record isn’t as good) but we also only lost by 1 point to the team with the best record in the NFL this year. So what are the keys for the Chargers to win 5 or 6 of the next 7 games (assuming 10-6 gets you in).
- Getting healthy and staying healthy
- Luck…it plays a role in football and given their schedule in the 2nd half, they’ll need it
- We have to start winning in the trenches. Both lines have gotten zero push the last two weeks
- Pressure on opposing QBs
- Positive turnover margin
- Use all the weapons we have on offense (Mathews, Green, Allen, Gates, Brown, Floyd, Royal)
- Get the screen game going
- Too predictable running on 1st down
- Get the nasty edge back on defense. Flowers has made a huge impact on this defense but that tenacity has been missing the past couple weeks
Given all this team has had to overcome this year, and the amount of things on that list they need to overcome to make the playoffs; if that happens, I’m pretty sure they are better than they should be.
Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.
Thanks for reading!
I am still hurting from the Denver loss like all Charger fans. At no point did I think the Chargers could surprise the Broncos like they did last year who were ripe for a perfect upset. Our boys had everything to play for and Denver had nothing to play for. They whined all week about a short week. The Chargers didn’t have time to care. In the offseason, Tom Telesco did a wonderful job adding key pieces to the defense that on paper would make the Bolt defense better prepared to take on The Denver Mannings.
The reality is one by one almost all of those additions were ruled out for the game. All week long I heard and read Chargers fans say cornerbacks Marshall and Wright could not start and beat Manning. The reality is they did just that December 12th last year on Thursday night football. That defense had a limited returning Melvin Ingram but was essentially the same as the one the Chargers put on the field. The Bolts won that game by seven, and lost this one by fourteen.
Coming off a 35-21 loss, I could blame the Refs for blown calls, the NFL for giving us three division games in 11 days, or Archie and Olivia Manning for not getting Peyton into a different profession. You can complain that the football gods have cursed this team’s medical staff with too much to handle.
You can make an argument for all those valid things to complain about. Honestly, I think the injuries on the defense point to the importance of a man who suits up with the offense. Philip Rivers is playing fantastic, Gates is playing like he is Benjamin Button aging backwards. The offense is clicking . The reality is this week’s 21 points still would have been enough to beat Denver’s effort from last year.
Of course, the Denver Mannings have gotten better since last year, so have the Chargers. But timing is everything and not having a healthy Ryan Mathews made the difference.
I have been shaking my head a lot the last couple weeks listening to local sports radio and reading the message boards proclaiming that Branden Oliver is ready. We don’t need Ryan Mathews, we have number 43, right?
I do think Oliver is a hidden gem. The Chargers scored big time in finding him. He may be the reason Ryan Mathews doesn’t return or takes less money to stay. However, you are out of your mind if you don’t think Ryan Mathews is not the number one missing factor between last year’s result and this week.
The run game this week was pathetic, until the last garbage time run just before the clock went zeros, your rushing leader was Philip Rivers with 17 yards. Take away that 23 yarder at the end of the game, and Oliver barely managed to get double digits. Even if you count that run Oliver was still out gained by Danny Woodhead in last year’s Thursday night game.
That night, Ryan Mathews was the reason the Bolts won and now it is more clear than ever. Mathews had 29 carries for 127 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, the Chargers controlled the ball for 39 minutes of the game. Peyton Manning, being a rhythm QB, only managed the Broncos as they had a 10-3 late in the first period before the Chargers went on several long scoring drives. Manning’s offense gained 13 yards on the 13 plays, over four drives during which they went three-and-out three times and picked up a total of one first down. (With Marshall and Wright on the corners by the way).
Without the power Ryan Mathews brings to the running game the Broncos would not have been held to their season low scoring output. Instead of driving us nuts with his Omahas we got the sideline shots of grumpy Peyton twiddling his thumbs.
Denver’s defense is improved no doubt. Certainly Oliver faced more of a challenge, but I believe at least a half a dozen of those plays where Oliver was stuffed at the line would have 5 or 6 yards for a wrecking ball like Mathews.
Go back and watch a game with Mathews. Charger fans, don’t be prisoner of the moment. Ryan Mathews was the MVP of December last year, and had the Chargers had him this last week, their chances to beat the Mannings would have a lot more likely.
David Agranoff can’t stand Peyton Manning, but loves the Chargers. He is the author of three horror novels you can buy on Amazon if you into that kinda thing. His novels include The Vegan Revolution…With Zombies, Hunting the Moon Tribe and Boot Boys of the Wolf Reich. Follow him on Twitter @DAgranoffauthor or look him up on Facebook.
It is getting pretty depressing writing about the Charger’s injury report. The team has been banged up from the start of the 2014 season and its backups have been forced into starting roles at an alarming frequency.
Next man up.
Tom Telesco has done a solid job adding depth in his first two years as general manager of the San Diego Chargers. That depth has been tested early and often. Reserves like Branden Oliver have been thrust into key roles and he has been a strong contributor to the Charger running game. No one expected to see Andrew Gachkar play so many snaps on defense as he has been splitting time with another reserve, Kavell Conner.
The defensive secondary has been reshuffled as well. Brandon Flowers, Jason Verrett and Shareece Wright have all missed time due to injuries. Eric Weddle is a constant on the back-end, but it is difficult for him to quarterback the defense with so many different combinations of players on his side of the ball.
The San Diego offensive line has been marred by injuries. The center position has seen 4 different starters in the early portion of this year. That is not exactly what you’re looking for when it comes to building cohesion among the hogs upfront. The right guard spot has seen turnover too. Both Johnnie Troutman and rookie Chris Watt have played the position.
It is no secret that the running backs have been hit incredibly hard by the injury bug. Danny Woodhead is out for the year with a broken fibula while Ryan Mathews is still nursing an MCL sprain. The severity of Donald Brown’s concussion is unknown, but due to missing the last three weeks, the concern is mounting that he might not even make it back onto the field in 2014. Heck, Ronnie Brown has even returned to the Chargers to help supplement the mash unit that is the San Diego ball carrier group.
Below is the week 7 injury report for the Bolts.
RB – Donald Brown ( Concussion )
CB – Brandon Flowers ( Concussion )
RB – Ryan Mathews ( Knee )
ILB – Manti Te’o ( Foot )
OLB – Jerry Attaochu ( Hamstring )
CB – Jason Verrett ( Shoulder )
CB – Steve Williams ( Groin )
ILB – Kavell Conner ( Ankle )
RT – DJ Fluker ( Ankle )
OLB – Dwight Freeney ( Knee )
C/G – Rich Ohrnberger ( Back )
Mike McCoy and the coaching staff are going to have to find ways to put the players that are healthy into positions that accentuate their strengths. Having so many backups in can change the gameplan to a degree, but I would expect there to not be too much deviation from what the team does on offense and defense.
The Chargers are heading into Denver tomorrow to take on the Broncos. No one in the Denver organization feels sorry for the Bolts about their long injury list. It is up to San Diego to rise up and overcome this adversity and escape Mile High with a win. It will not be an easy task, but it can be done. The lead in the AFC West is up for grabs and this could be a huge statement game for the Chargers.
Regardless of all of the injuries, I cannot wait for tomorrow’s game.
Thanks a lot for reading.
I hope I’m not alone in wondering what in God’s name has happened to the Chargers (statistically) highly rated defense through the first five weeks. They sure as hell didn’t show up the past two weeks.
I am beginning to think John Pagano’s unit looked so good through the first five weeks was because of the play of Philip Rivers and the offense, not due to their own play. You can afford to attack with apparent reckless abandon when you’re playing with a lead and against teams that stink.
I’m beginning to think that the Jets and Jaguars are worse than anyone really suspected to be held at bay by the Bolts’ defense the way they were. I say this because Oakland exposed them with a rookie quarterback and a glass running back. In that game, they let a rookie quarterback have all day to throw the ball and he picked the defense apart to the tune of 282 yards and four touchdowns on 18 completions. Fortunately, the Raiders being the Raiders, shot themselves in the foot over and over again with penalties and dropped passes. The Bolts defense also gave up 5.7 yards per carry to Darren McFadden, who ran for 80 yards against the Chargers “vaunted” defense.
On Sunday, the Chiefs beat the Chargers at their own game, keeping Philip Rivers and the offense on the sidelines for 39 minutes. The defense let a game manager in Alex Smith complete 19 of 28 passes, many uncontested because of soft defensive coverage or just plain old poor execution. Jamal Charles ran for 95 yards to the tune of 4.3 yards per carry and the Chiefs converted on seven of 14 third down plays. Again, Kansas City’s dropped passes kept the Chargers close. Let’s not forget how the defense sat on a lead in Arizona, playing soft and letting them stay in the game and ultimately win it. Anyone else seeing a theme here?
So far, this year has been a tale of two John Pagano defenses. There’s the passive defense that cost a Week 1 loss in Arizona, a near loss in Week 6 in Oakland and a loss Sunday against Kansas City. This passive defense was also on the field when Seattle scored quickly, allowing themselves to stay within striking distance. Then there’s the swarming, attacking defense that factored in blow out wins against Jacksonville and the Jets.
What is the message here? To me, it’s elementary. The defense has to attack and not wait for the play to come to them. They have to play aggressively with 11 players. If they’re without Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers, then Richard Marshall, Shareece Wright, Chris Davis and company need to step up their play and play up on receivers instead of giving them so much cushion. Donald Butler needs to show up. We haven’t seen the Donald Butler of past seasons at all this year.
Pagano’s unit needs to play with discipline, not leaving lanes wide open for the likes Derek Carr and Alex Smith to scamper through for positive yardage. This game was a display of tackling you would expect to see in a powder puff game. Sorry kids, but my mother tackles better than the Chargers did on Sunday. Nobody was immune from the missed tackle syndrome. There were countless whiffs, ball carriers running through tackles and failure to finish tackles. If this is the performance the defense brings to Denver on Thursday, it’s going to be a long night.
Tell me, am I wrong? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and thanks for taking time to visit the site.
Mike Pisciotta (@hawk_pie on twitter)