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Chargers on the outside, looking for pressure

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by CoronaDoug, Sep 1, 2010.

  1. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Well-Known Member

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    Chargers on the outside, looking for pressure
    BY KEVIN ACEE, UNION-TRIBUNE
    ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED AUGUST 31, 2010 AT 7:53 P.M., UPDATED AUGUST 31, 2010 AT 11:02 P.M.


    K.C. ALFRED / UNION-TRIBUNE
    The Chargers will be looking for more of these moments from Shawne Merriman (left) and Shaun Phillips (bottom) in 2010. First, Merriman has to get back on the field.

    The Chargers outside linebackers haven’t been generating much pressure through three preseason games. And, actually, to characterize the pressure in that manner is generous.

    Disclaimer: It is preseason, a total of 52 drops by opposing quarterbacks against what can be considered the Chargers’ first-team defense. The Chargers are blitzing from everywhere, asking outside linebackers to do different things. And they’re only playing a fraction of games – games that don’t count.

    But still …

    The Chargers’ primary outside linebackers have generated two quarterback hits – one by Jyles Tucker that came as Jay Cutler released a deeply thrown 33-yard completion and one by Shaun Phillips that resulted in a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer being tacked to Drew Brees’ downfield pass for a 21-yard completion.

    “Granted, there haven’t been a lot of big plays, but that stuff is going to come,” said Larry English, who started the past two games. “Guys are playing hard and doing what they’re asked. Once those plays come, they’re going to come in bunches.”

    You know what might help, just maybe?

    Shawne Merriman getting back on the field, something that happened for two days, two weeks late, in mid-August but hasn’t happened since and probably won’t until at least next week.

    “We need Shawne’s presence,” head coach Norv Turner said.

    Merriman, who held out of camp for two weeks and was sidelined by an Achilles’ injury after three practices, won’t play in Thursday’s preseason finale. That means while Antwan Applewhite has resumed exciting the Chargers and rookie Brandon has begun exciting them and English has been starting, Merriman will not have played a snap this summer before the Chargers open the season Sept. 13 at Kansas City.

    Thus, it will not be a surprise if the man who had 39½ sacks from 2005-07 is not on the field at the start of that game.

    The season of redemption, the one where he needs to (for both his future and likely the Chargers’ present) show the world he can return to dominance will in all likelihood begin on the bench.

    “He’s another good player that can help us,” is what Turner said when asked about Merriman having to earn his way back into the starting lineup.

    Merriman said he’ll do what’s asked, and he and Turner are clearly dropping the same record when it comes to what both are calling the “process” of his return.

    In 2009, the combination of Achilles’ and foot ailments had Merriman missing at least one day of practice every week the final half of the season and receiving pain-killing shots before a half-dozen games. He played just more than 400 plays, finishing with four sacks, 16 quarterback hurries and 6½ knockdowns.

    “I know what I have to do to be accountable,” Merriman said. “Last year I wasn’t accountable. I was banged up, and I kept playing.”

    To that end, the Chargers are taking Merriman’s return slow, so as to hopefully not have to deal with the recurring Achilles’ swelling and discomfort for another season.

    “This season goes forever,” Turner said. “We’ve got five months. I want to get him where he doesn’t have symptoms all year. His swelling is down, and he feels good. He’s running, and we will have a plan to get him ready to get going and get as many reps as he can.”

    Dwindling production from the outside – at least partially attributable to injuries to Merriman and others – has been an issue since the glory days of 2006.

    With Merriman leading the league with 17 sacks that season, the Chargers were also tops with 61 total sacks. Phillips had 11½. The five players that lined up at outside linebacker that year also combined for 78 quarterback knockdowns and hurries.

    Those numbers dropped to 56 knockdowns and hurries and 27 sacks in 2007, 57 and 16 in 2008 and 49 and 13 last season.

    Merriman played only in the ’08 season opener before undergoing major knee surgery and limping through ‘09.

    Tucker went on injured reserve midway through ’09 with an ankle injury. Applewhite missed the final 15 games last season with a hamstring tear.

    If they can collectively stay healthy, this will be the year to truly evaluate the unit that was once among the most feared in the NFL. That will, sooner or later, be especially true of Merriman.

    “I can bring a lot, just be a big part of the defense and do what they look for me to do,” he said of his potential when healthy again. “… The first thing I’m looking to get back is the explosion. Once I get that back, a lot of other things will get back too.”

    Chargers on the outside, looking for pressure - SignOnSanDiego.com
     
  2. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Well-Known Member

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    I don't think that Merriman will ever return to form. Looks like we will be drafting his replacement next year.
     
  3. BoltFanDC

    BoltFanDC Mufflers Are Overrated

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    Hopefully we already did...see English, Larry. But we do need a healthy Merriman in any event.
     
  4. CoronaDoug

    CoronaDoug Well-Known Member

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    I am not sure if English can be "that dude".
     
  5. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    No doubt our guys are not the same as they were in 06, but we also don't have the same DC. Wade was MUCH more of an attacking DC while Rivera is not. I am in no way saying Rivera isn't good, just saying he runs a different type defense which doesn't involve attacking with the OLB's. And when they do rush, the rarely do anything more than bull rush. We rarely see a delayed blitz or a stunt or even some sort of crossing blitz. Our guys line up in a hole, and rush that hole. The offense knows exactly where the rush is coming from, unless we use our safeties, which we will get destroyed if we blitz the safeties more than 2-3 times a game.

    I just don't think it was pure coincidence that as soon as Wade left Merriman's numbers dropped and Demarcus Ware's numbers ballooned.
     
  6. coachmarkos

    coachmarkos BoltTalker

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    I don't care who it is, but someone has got to win a one on one match-up and get to the qb.

    This is getting frustrating.
     
  7. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    I agree. But I also think the DC needs to be able to scheme in a way that allows players to avoid one on ones when they can't win them. This can be done using stunts, delayed blitzes, crossing rushers (Sending the ILB outside and bringing the OLB inside) and many other ways that I don't know since I am not a DC. Just like on offense, if one of the linemen is constantly getting beat, there are ways to help him with TE's and RB's. It just takes the coach understanding the limitation of the players, and putting forth a game plan to help that player
     
  8. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

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    I disagree. Someone needs to command two mens attention at nose tackle or the 3-4 is predictable and works for crap. The OLB's will be doubled up since the nose tackle scares no one. Forget winning the one on one because the math does not dictate the dude will win that battle.
     
  9. charger1993

    charger1993 bad motherfucker

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    if merriman is any better than last year hel get atleast 12 sacks,combined with phillips who probably get around 10, then applewhite will prob rack up ehh idk 5 maybe
     
  10. Zeus

    Zeus BoltTalker

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    They need to try Applewhite against the 1st string. He looks better than lang and tucker against the 2nd. He looks as good as Larry English, if not better. He is our 2nd best OLB in pass coverage. The one "bad" play he had against the Saints actually was as designed. He cut off the RBs outside run and funneled him inside while being engaged with the LT.

    I see Tucker do almost nothing with English over persuing. Fact is we have a lot of good depth at OLB, they just need more experience and execution.
     

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