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Negative 2010 Outlook: San Diego Chargers' Defense

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, May 13, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    [​IMG]

    by John Gennaro
    5-12-2010

    I have to admit, it was a little difficult trying to come up with something to worry about in the San Diego Chargers' 2010 season. I'm an optimist. I saw no big problems, and certain things that I thought were big problems turned out to be not-that-bad when I started digging through stats.
    However, the defense as a whole scares me a little bit. After the jump, I'm going to break down every part of the defense and why I'm fearful that each one could fall off from last year.

    [​IMG]

    Defensive Line

    On either side of the ball, you should always start with the line. There's a lot of sayings, such as "whoever makes the fewest mistakes wins", but I really do think that the team with the better line on both sides of the ball will win a game 90% of the time. Right now, I'm not certain the Chargers have that. Guys like Ian Scott, Alfonso Boone and Travis Johnson surprise you in terms of value, but there's always a reason that they were found on the scrap heap. Either they have problems staying healthy, problems being consistent or problems having any sort of factor on the games they play in.


    Faith in Ron Rivera

    When the Chargers ask you to put faith in what they're doing, and as fans they are asking that of us, we often ask why. In response they typically send out facts like Norv Turner's record with the Chargers after October, or Philip Rivers' record when making a game-winning drive, and we feel secure that the team knows what they're doing. On the defensive side of the ball, far too often it seems the team is putting all of their eggs in the Ron Rivera basket.
    The Bolts have said that in the upcoming season they will continue to play a hybrid defense, 3-4 in certain situations and 4-3 in others. I would love this type of creativity if it was showing results, but it really hasn't. And when you're building a roster for the purpose of being a dominating 3-4 (which the Chargers were at one point), it seems silly to try running the 4-3 with the same guys. Did Tony Dungy try to turn the Colts into a running-offense, ball-control team based around the Cover 2 defense just because that's what he was comfortable doing in Tampa? Of course not. Why would you ask guys like Shaun Phillips and Shawne Merriman to play Defensive End?

    Wasting Strong Safeties

    I think the disconnect between Rivera's ideas and the output on the field (which has been good, but certainly not great) has resulted in some odd situations and odd picks. For instance, Kevin Ellison was picked in the 6th round of the 2009 NFL Draf and took over the starting Strong Safety spot just a few weeks into the season. He was everything the scouting report said he was: big, slower than guys like Polamalu, smart. Ellison projected to be an okay NFL player, if he was projected to be a star he would've been a 1st round choice. After taking over, Ellison proved himself to be consistently okay.....and for some reason the team is disappointed him for this. I don't get it. If you wanted a different player, why not pick a different player?
    In this year's draft, the Chargers used another mid-round pick to get Darrell Stuckey to replace Ellison. Stuckey is a similar type of player, but I suppose the Bolts hope that he's better. So for at least the third year in the row, Charger fans are heading into the season with almost no clue as to what type of production they're going to get from the SS position. That's scary/annoying.

    The Rest of the Secondary

    Let's face it, this is an unpredictable game. At any moment, an MVP player can suddenly lose that little bit of physicality that he had and go from great to mediocre overnight. The Chargers have been relying on Quentin Jammer as their #1 CB for seven seasons already, which is an NFL eternity. Eventually the guys like Randy Moss and Reggie Wayne are going to be too much for him, and I thought A.J. Smith would usually see this situation coming and be more than prepared. He may have been, and Antonio Cromartie may have forced himself out, but that doesn't make me any less worried.


    If Jammer loses a half-step, or Antoine Cason is more of the player that got benched as a nickel corner and less of the opportunistic CB that everyone saw in college and even a bit in his rookie season, things could get ugly. If/when Jammer has a problem, he's going to have someone like Darrell Stuckey (who is inexperienced) trying to cover for him over the top. If Cason has a problem, the Chargers really don't have anyone else that can step into the #2 CB position. Everything could be fine....everything has to be fine, because there is no backup plan.

    Inside Linebackers

    At least here there seems to be some forward thought and a backup plan or two. The biggest problem here is Stephen Cooper, who fell off in terms of production last year. Now, that could've been caused by age or it could've been caused by injury (he played with a bad elbow all year) or it could've been a mix a both. If it happens again this year, I hope that the defensive coaches have a plan to try to fix it (like Donald Butler and/or Brandon Siler). Kevin Burnett is a good player when he's healthy and on the field, but if he can't stay healthy he'll be watching Siler in his spot all season.


    Outside Linebackers

    So much of this position is up in the air. Will Larry English get that 10% better that he needs to be an effective pass-rusher? Will Shawne Merriman turn back into the beast he once was? Does Ron Rivera blitz these guys enough, or does he get too creative with them?

    The terrible part about having so many things up in the air is that this is arguably tied with the line for the most important part of the defense. Plain and simple: the Bolts' OLBs need to get to the opposing QBs more, and it's the same group of OLBs from last season. The only thing we can do is hope for progress from English, health from Merriman and progress in Rivera's head. There's no guarantee that this very important group will be any better. That's a problem.

    Summary

    My pessimism about the defense is nothing new. With this team, there is so little change from year-to-year that it's easy to be pessimistic about any of the positions that didn't perform well the year before. Going into 2009, I was worried about RB, SS and RG. Louis Vasquez plugged one of those holes very nicely. Somebody will step up and help plug one of the holes above. The defense will probably be good, but when Charger fans so recently saw what these players could do under Wade Phillips it's hard not to ask.....why can't it be great?



    http://www.boltsfromtheblue.com/2010/5/12/1469390/negative-2010-outlook-san-diego
     
  2. Enormo

    Enormo BoltTalker

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    Sums it up well. The D struggled at times last year. They are largely returning the same folks they did last year.

    On the potential upside...

    Merriman has had a year to heal. If he returns to form, opportunities will open up for other players. Could be the best upgrade we could ask for. A potential game changer.

    Cromartie is gone. Cason might not have the theoretical physical upside but he's not a perennial tackle-whiffing *****. An serviceable all around football player is better than a soft one year wonder. Keep predicting Jammer's demise and eventually you'll be right... so why worry about this year in particular?

    Inside Linebackers. There are no stars but there is consistent depth of talent. Not worried about drop off in perfomance here.

    Yeah... D Line is largely a bunch of scrubs. Guess what... it was last year too. Now they've had a year to play together and they've improved. Won't revolutionize the dynamic of the team but does it worry me? No. It's a known quantity. And I don't care about the 'upside' in Thomas. I just want someone who is a true NT for two downs at a time. Incremental, yes. Improvement, yes.

    To sum up... getting significantly better on D will be a long shot but getting significantly worse seems even less likely. I worry about uncertainty. This D is largely a known quantity.
     
  3. wrbanwal

    wrbanwal Well-Known Member

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    I stopped after this ---

    Really, WTF??? Hardly the elite in the league these days
     
  4. foober

    foober BoltTalker

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    just getting rid of cro improved the defense. NOw we may have someone who can or will tackle.

    both butler and stuckey are supposed to be very good tacklers somthing cooper hasn't mastered yet. So improvement there. We got a new big body on the d-line.And were going into the year with an assortment of not flashy but solid d-lineman. And Merriman is finally healthy. And english has a year under his belt.

    The defense will be better to much better.
     
  5. sdchrger

    sdchrger Well-Known Member

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    There should be a rule that prohibits 12 year olds from writing articles on the internet.
     
  6. Zeus

    Zeus BoltTalker

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    ...Or writing on the Chargers MB.
     
  7. Trumpet_Man

    Trumpet_Man Well-Known Member

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    The D-Line =

    http://i238.photobucket.com/albums/ff268/NeonKnight51/****.jpg
     
  8. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    I 100% agree
     
  9. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    Agreed.
     
  10. BoltWalt

    BoltWalt Well-Known Member

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    Hopefully they keep him and reap the benefits of a rejuvenated Merriman. If we get the beast back close to his top form it will really strengthen this team and hopefully lead them into the Playoffs.:abq2:
     
  11. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    That is where I disagree. I don't think very many of our guys are even quality backups (Due to talent or Injuries), and we have them rotating in as starters.

    There is a reason why guys like Scott, Boone, and Garay were available for league min, and no one wanted them, and there is also a reason why Travis Johnson was available for a 6th round pick. Ceriare has never been able to earn a starting job, even when he was handed one on a silver platter last year. Castillo can't stay healthy. and our 3 kids are at least a year away from becoming players that make any sort of impact other than being a body
     
  12. Shumway

    Shumway BoltTalker

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    But with all of that we went 13-3 last year.

    With only a very small amount of improvement from those guys due to a year of continuity or a year of development we've gotta be able to expect we're right in the mix for a super bowl again.

    And I know that 13-3 doesn't represent any real achievement in itself, but it shows that we are one of the teams who are legitimately in contention for a superbowl. I honestly believe that their are so many variables that go into winning a superbowl (including luck), that all you can do is continue putting yourself in a position where it's genuinely possible and roll the dice.
     
  13. DenverBolt67

    DenverBolt67 BoltTalker

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    Guys like Boone, Garay, Scott, and Cesaire don't really have much room for improvement. And Thomas, Martin, and OG are still way too raw, and even the small improvement they will make, will not be enough to make our defense any better than a middle of the road average defense, and that isn't good enough to win a SB
     
  14. Shumway

    Shumway BoltTalker

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    Completely disagree. Exhibit A is last years Sueprbowl. Both teams had middle of the road defences (at best). And that's not an isolated occurance. A lot of superbowl teams are average on one side of the ball (I was gonna look it up and actually quote stats on that, but I'll leave that on the list of things to do)

    As fans, I think we have a tendency to expect management should be able to piece together a perfect team with no flaws, and that's simply not going to happen.

    I know that our team has flaws and I agree that we're not going to see those guys on the D-Line morph into superstars this season. But if they can gel together as a solid, but unspectacular unit (a middle of the road defence perhaps), we have a real shot at winning the superbowl.

    To win a superbowl doesn't require a perfect team. It requires putting yourself in a position to win and hoping things come together at the right time.

    We've shown over the last few years that we should continue to put ourselves in a position to potentially win the superbowl. So with some minor tweaking - 1) a little improvement in the running game 2) a slight improvement in the d-line, 3) maybe a little improvement in the pass rush through either Merriman getting healthier or English developing, we could definitley be hoisting the Lombardi. It doesn't guarantee it, but even with our flaws, we're right in the mix.
     
  15. HEXEDBOLT

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

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    If the offense improves just a little and the defense can hold on to a lead, this Bolt team will be a force in the league. I don't see the need for perennial all pro DL's to go all the way. More like solid workmen that can hold their own and stay at home. With a top notch line-backing corps, that we should have, this team should be able to beat the opponent on speed and power up front. Cut off the outside, plug the middle and a tad bit more QB pressure and we'll win more than lose again.

    I know, all we have is scrubs and throw a ways, sounds like a perfect combination to pull the collective NFL panties down. Only time will tell if it's going to happen and I sure as hell am not going to be depressed with 4 months to go before opening day.
     
  16. AnteaterCharger

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

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    All it would take is

    1. A better run game (blocking and Matthews)
    2. Sproles to regain his dangerous-ness
    3. The receivers to keep doing their thing
    4. For the rotation of players from last year to continue to do well
    5. For the major young guys (Martin, OG, Thomas) to make more strides
    6. To have more consistent and effective play out of our ILB and #2 CB
    7. our players being mature
     
  17. HEXEDBOLT

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

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    The run game should be better due to less injuries on the O-line. Mathews should provide a dimension missing from this part of the game the last couple years. I'd love to see Sproles be the dynamo he's become known for, makes for tons of fun. Receiving is the strongest part of our game, I don't see any regression in this area but growth. As far as the D-line and young guy's How can there be anything but positive progress? The worst of the group will be gone come opening day and Ron may showcase the defense we've all been waiting to see. SP needs to STFU and just go out and play, don't tell me how good you are, show me how good you are. That goes for the whole team, top to bottom.
     
  18. Ray Dahayder

    Ray Dahayder BoltTalker

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    I feel this same way.... of course, there's always a lot of hopeful thinking but if we can outscore the other team, obviously, we'll be okay. I don't think we have the best D by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not the worst. We need to put points up..... lots of points.
     
  19. matilack

    matilack Take A Knee McCree!!!

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    1. Our blocking did improve as the season went on, and I think Norv wants to RE-COMMITT to the run game this year.
    2. Having Mathews will allow us to use Sproles as he is intended. Expect his legs to be fresher.
    3. Our recievers are good.:tup:
    4. The D-line rotation of Castillo, Martin, OG, Thomas, and Travis Johnson makes me confident that our D-line in general has more talent. Add the fact that OG and Martin now have a full year and I think people around here will be surprised when this turns into a strength of our team.

    6. Cason needs to step up and he knows it. I'm confident because he was an ELITE all-around corner in college. He was the equivilent to Joe Haden in 2007, he made a mistake waiting 1yr too long to enter the draft or he'd have been a top 10-15 pick.
    7. The only player on this entire team with a guaranteed starting position is Rivers. I think everyone else (except Shaun Phillips) knows they are expendable, and therefore they should be hungrier.
     
  20. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    No one will displace Jammer this year unless he gets injured. McNeill and Hardwick are sure starters barring injury. VJ starts. Gates starts. Dielman starts.
     
  21. LightEmUp

    LightEmUp Banned Banned

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    As long as we put up 28ppg like last year we will be leading most games and the D will be a non factor.

    Where we can make up the difference in tough games is special teams. One of the main reasons I was concerned with KO leaving. Hopefully we have some guys who can beat double teams and down the ball deep to help with field position.

    I really hope we can get a plan by the playoffs for this D. We need some type of strategy and not just a reactive defense that gets mowed on and cant get off the field on 3rd n longs.

    If we cant be physical, lets be smart and sneaky.
     

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