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Chargers filling in for injured Williams

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Nov 7, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    Just don't call this defense makeshift

    Chargers filling in for injured Williams



    By Chris Jenkins
    Saturday, November 7, 2009


    Where there used to be the domineering presence of one behemoth — that one usually being plenty enough — the middle of the Chargers' three-man line is now three men. Three noses.

    Sometimes four.

    “You hate to say it,” said defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, “but it takes four guys to replace a Jamal Williams.”

    A triceps injury ended Williams' 2009 regular season almost as soon as it began, and since losing one of the NFL's most formidable run-cloggers in the opener, the Chargers have been going with a committee of big bodies in the middle. If anything, while opposing centers knew what a singular challenge it was to deal mostly with Williams throughout games, they can't be sure what they're getting from San Diego's nose from play to play.

    One snap — or two or three or four — it's Ian Scott. Other times, it's Travis Johnson. And in comes Ogemdi Nwagbuo. That's the regular rotation, but every so often, veteran end Alfonso Boone will be shifted inside as well.

    “They're all different in styles,” Rivera said. “With Ian, you get more of a fireplug-type guy, low to the ground, more of a wrestler and technician. Boonie's a little bit more finesse whereas Travis is a mauler. Ogi's just a powerful young kid with a lot to learn, but I tell you what, he might be a real good find.”

    For obvious reasons, the Chargers were desperate to find a way to stop the run, especially after the Pittsburgh Steelers added 177 yards on the ground to their 320 passing yards against the Chargers on Oct. 4. Rivera said there has been a vast improvement at the defensive point with the bye week and three games since. Over those three division games against Denver, Kansas City and Oakland, the Chargers gave up an average of 107 ground yards per game, that after previous opponents had run for a norm of 151 yards.

    Whatever futilities the Raiders represented on Sunday, it became very clear very quickly that they were determined to run the ball, if only to keep quarterback JaMarcus Russell from throwing until it was absolutely necessary. They hit San Diego with a steady dose of Justin Fargas and Michael Bush, and in their combined 25 carries, neither running back had a gain longer than seven yards. Oakland fell short of 100 yards rushing on the day.

    “We were able to hold the point,” said Rivera, “and that was the biggest thing, getting them to second-and-7, second-and-8, so we could do the things we wanted to do defensively.”

    Now, of course, comes more of the hard part. The Chargers play five of their remaining nine contests against teams ranking among the NFL's top 11 in average yards per game on the ground, starting with tomorrow's road game against the New York Giants.

    Although the Giants have been more wide open with their offense in 2009, three straight losses have them saying they have to get back to playing their brand of ball, which generally means pounding teams into submission. As it is, they again have two runners looking like possibilities for 1,000-yard seasons, Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw.

    “Stopping the run is a man's game,” Johnson said. “You thrive on the challenge of stopping a good running back. You thrive on the challenge of somebody saying you can't stop the run. When Jamal left, we became known as the ‘makeshift line.’ I don't think it's fair to a group to say just because you lose one guy, you're not going to be any good because you're a ‘makeshift line.’

    “But it'd be great if in a couple years, somebody says, ‘You remember that makeshift D-line and how good it played?’ Yeah, that'd be something great.”

    Virtually everybody concerned thinks the greatest thing about the rotation at nose tackle is that it keeps fresh bodies in the thick of the fray. Particularly since the bodies of the players in the rotation aren't in any condition to clock 55 plays a game.

    When he was traded from the Houston Texans to the Chargers in late August, Johnson was on the rebound from surgery to repair a sports hernia. Scott has been beset with knee issues and Nwagbuo has been slowed by an ankle injury that kept him from practice the past week.

    Indeed, in the Steelers debacle, the Chargers were down to four able-bodied defensive linemen, with Luis Castillo and Jacques Cesaire bouncing all over the line and barely getting a chance to catch their breath over 73 defensive plays.

    “I'm not a center, but I have to think it makes a difference, having that kind of variety at one position and having to adjust to the differences,” Scott said. “I just know it's nice to have guys who can come in and keep us all fresh the whole game.”

    Said Johnson: “We've kind of gotten to the point where we're playing four, five plays and switching out. I think that's why we're stopping the run, because we're so fresh now. I know I'm still nowhere near healthy. We're all banged up. But we're doing this thing together, and because we are together, I think we're getting more consistent.”
    Not that too many people would notice. After all, they're nose tackles.

    “I like playing nose better than end, even though you don't get as much shine,” Johnson said. “It's kinda like the crane at the construction site. The crane operator puts the hours in, does the work and nobody knows who he is. That's the nose.”

    Plural.
     
  2. in_a_days

    in_a_days dgaf

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    ugh... :lol:
     
  3. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

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    AJ did a really really poor job backing up Williams. The guy is old, always banged up, and plays arguably the most important position on our defense. We all knew the day would come where we'd regret not having someone to plug in for him.
     
  4. Bergo23

    Bergo23 BoltTalker

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    The Travis Johnson comment about not being healthy gives me hope for when he does. His draft stock was legit first round talent, hopefully Rivera can rub off the rust and get that shine he had when he was a monster at FSU.
     
  5. boltssbbound

    boltssbbound Well-Known Member

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    Biatch biatch biatch. What else is new. Every 3-4 team in the league would struggle if they lost their top 2 NTs. There are just not many good nosetackles around.
     
  6. AnteaterCharger

    AnteaterCharger Calibrating Bolttalk, Podcast by Podcast Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    In all honesty they did play fast and loose with Jamal. In some small defense of AJ, there's ALOT of teams running a 3-4 and very few prototypical nose tackles in college. I could count four maybe in last year's draft (brace, Raji, Martin, Taylor, maybe the two kids from Stillman Hill and Davis). And in a sense he did think ahead drafting Martin but the kid is a long way from making an impact. That pick should've come a few years ago.

    And no I don't count Bingham in that category, he'd been working out far more at DE then at NT lately. And he's only 300lbs, not enough on its own.
     
  7. Holy_Bolt

    Holy_Bolt Well-Known Member

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    His point is still well taken...you have to plan well if you are going to deploy the 3-4!

    It says a lot for Williams if it is taking 3 - 4 guys to get the same results! Jamal is a real all pro!
     
  8. HollywoodLeo

    HollywoodLeo Well-Known Member

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    While I do not completely disagree with this, to play Devil's advocate for a second, it didn't help that Ryon Bingham went down before Jamal even did.

    So you're kind of faulting him for not finding a better third string.
     
  9. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

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    Ryon Bingham has gotten plenty of playing time the past couple years, and I think we can both agree he has never collapsed a pocket like Jamal. He's like the Jyles Tucker to Shawne Merriman, offered a contract before ever having to prove himself as a starter.


    But I know what your saying, having him right now wouldn't hurt.
     
  10. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

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    AJ has gone through 7 drafts now (53 picks) with the Chargers, and only drafted 3 DT's! Page in 06', Bingham in 04' and Martin in 09'.

    I know what your trying to say, but people have been questioning Jamal's longevity for at least the last 3yrs, and AJ hasn't made so much as a half *** attempt to find his eventual replacement. So unless he's planning to switch to the 4-3 real soon, its almost like he sabotaged his own scheme.
     
  11. HollywoodLeo

    HollywoodLeo Well-Known Member

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    Let's not forget we're discussing back ups here.

    Who else collapses the pocket like Jamal does?

    And if we had someone of that caliber sitting on our bench do you think he'd be content sitting on the bench?

    edit: just saw the latter part of your response. Been drinking tonight so you'll have to forgive me. :lol:
     
  12. boltssbbound

    boltssbbound Well-Known Member

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    I understand what you are saying. But no football team is free of holes, especially at backup positions, even moreso with third stringers. Trust me, I would love to see us get more quality beef. But the odds of us getting a guy as good as Jamal through the draft are extremely small. Could AJ had focused more on getting us some quality beef? Sure. He's not without fault. But the guy has done one or two things right.
     
  13. Ray Dahayder

    Ray Dahayder BoltTalker

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    Gotta agree with that. I was afraid of Jamal going down this year and that's what happened from the beginning. Ignoring the foundation of both sides of the ball has been one of AJ's biggest blunders, in my estimation. We're constantly looking for the next Olivea or Clary.... oh, wow, I think I'm getting hard.....
     
  14. HEXEDBOLT

    HEXEDBOLT Don't like it, lump it!!!

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    I don't think our team is that far away for being a possible championship team. Sure we had some major hit's early on but we have shown improvement in the last three weeks.

    Championship teams find way's to overcome Injuries and slow start's, while we still have a steep mountain to climb, it isn't impossible.

    The coaching staff seems to have kept the player's focused and if we can come out and enforce our will on the Giant's today it will be a big step towards the ultimate goal. A Lombardi!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  15. RM24

    RM24 BoltTalker

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    God, I hope NOT! :no:
     

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