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Chargers' defense stung by the run

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 12, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    Friday, September 12, 2008

    Defense needs to improve on smothering opposing teams' ground attacks

    Matt Wilhelm needs to get better.
    So do Derek Smith, Luis Castillo, Ryon Bingham, Igor Olshansky, even Jamal Williams and pretty much everyone else involved in stopping the run.
    “Everybody has to play better,” defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell said this week. “I'm not going to single any one player out. They all have to play better ... I've got to coach it better.”
    The trouble against the run that popped up at times last season and reared again in the preseason leaked into the Chargers' first game Sunday.
    The Carolina Panthers put together a series of seven-, eight-and 10-yard runs and gained 112 yards rushing in the first half, the most by halftime against the Chargers in five seasons.
    And since he's at the center of the defense, since he is most often around the ball, and since he is clearly tentative at times, a step behind or out of the play at times, Wilhelm has become the poster boy of derision for this issue.
    And it's bothering him as much as anyone.
    “Moreso than coaches – they understand there are 15 more games – or my teammates – they realize they're going to have to rely on me for the season – I'm probably the hardest on myself,” Wilhelm said. “Do I like having my name and not being aggressive (in the same sentence)? No. So I'm going to go out and change that. Do I like that I'm not the surest tackler right now, in Week One? No. So I'm going to go out and prove to myself, to my teammates, to my coaches and the fans that I can get the job done.”
    But Wilhelm is not the only one who is failing to execute.
    Smith was aggressive, but he is still learning the defense and where to be and what others' responsibilities are. The defensive line is being pushed around too often, creating big holes and too much space for the linebackers to cover. And too many communication errors are making everyone try to do too much instead of just doing their own jobs.
    "There are a lot of things,” said Castillo, who like Williams was at times excellent Sunday and at times showed the rust of an inactive preseason. “We need to do things better overall as a defensive line.”
    In the 3-4 defense, on most plays, at least two defensive linemen are to occupy two offensive linemen. On Sunday that didn't happen often enough, for long enough.
    For instance, on the first play of the game Williams did not occupy both of his men long enough and the guard came out and walled off Smith. What should have been a two-or three-yard run went for seven.
    Now, Williams was still the difference in the second half. When he was in – a total of 39 plays against the Panthers – he more often than not helped the Chargers dictate the line of scrimmage. But he hadn't played since the preseason opener almost a month earlier, and only played a fraction of that game.
    It will for a while be a strategy to hold Williams out of portions of games, to keep him healthy for that game and for the season.
    “He's working his way back,” Cottrell said. “Hopefully he'll be back full speed soon. We need him out there – as much as we can play him.”
    No one on the team denies (at least when they're telling the truth) that Williams being in and being strong makes the Chargers a lot better.
    “He's one of the best payers in the league,” Castillo said. “He might be the best at his position when he's going. So yeah, you're going to miss him.”
    The Panthers ran for just 30 yards in the second half, adjustments in scheme and attitude making the difference. But in a game decided by two points, a run here and there that helped the Panthers to three first-half field goals might have been the difference.
    On one such play, it was Wilhelm who made a wrong decision in going after DeAngelo Williams, missing a tackle that turned a certain big loss into a four-yard gain. Instead of having to try a field goal of more than 50 yards, Panthers kick John Kasay made a 44-yarder on the next play.
    Funny, that it was aggressiveness that cost Wilhelm that time. His knock right now is that he is not taking hits to blockers, not getting low and attacking.
    Wilhelm did get some solid hits in against the Panthers, looking good when doing so. He knows he needs to do it more often and says he has the innate ability to do so.
    “I can be more aggressive,” he said. “That's probably the one thing that needs to be said. It's comes with confidence. It comes with understanding, so I'm going 110 percent in one direction, knowing I'm right. To me, that day is coming soon.”

    By Kevin Acee
  2. BlueandGold

    BlueandGold The Oracle

    May 22, 2006
    I really want to like Matt Wilhelm, and I'm sure I would, on a personal level.

    But right now his play stinks. Bad.

    I'm just hoping it's tentativeness, as this article seems to suggest, rather than a pure lack of ability that has been shielded by working in tandem with a better athlete, by which I mean Stephen Cooper.

    We shall see. Hopefully sooner and better rather than later and worse.
  3. EsDee_in_RI

    EsDee_in_RI Well-Known Member

    Jan 15, 2008
    I saw the MLB position as an issue in the preseason. Losing cooper really affected them.
  4. cranberry

    cranberry BoltTalker

    Oct 3, 2006
    Besides injuries the run defence was the issue on preseason talks. Merriman replaced by Tucker, Williams not 100%, Cooper 4 times left, Smith new and Cromartie unclear
    the Defence has to step up as a unit. @ Denver is a crucial game with important outcome. Dobbins and Siler should take their change and make great plays.
  5. Enormo

    Enormo BoltTalker

    Jul 22, 2007
    Many people did and many blew it off. Unfortunately, there's still 3 games to go until Coops is back. With the Donkos 1-0 the Bolts need a solution now.
  6. TheBeast

    TheBeast BoltTalker

    Dec 17, 2007
    This really rides on tucker and phillips. If tucker can ride on anger because of the statement Cutler said (intentional or not) I expect him to get there like the giants in the SB:tup: Luis castillo got a big fat check he should play like he's worth it too.

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