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Numbers not the true measure of Bolts defense

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 16, 2010.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    By Chris Jenkins
    October 15, 2010 at 11:35 p.m.

    Matt Cassel . David Garrard . Matt Hasselbeck. Derek Anderson and Max Hall. Bruce Gradkowski and Jason Campbell. These are the opposing quarterbacks -- none on a career path to Canton -- in the Chargers’ first five games.
    The highest-ranked among them in QB ratings after five weeks is Garrard, who’s 12th at 90.1. Next is Campbell, rated 24th. Sam Bradford, the rookie who’ll quarterback the St. Louis Rams against the Chargers on Sunday, is No. 31.
    So far, the Chargers haven’t played an opponent with a total offense ranked higher than 11th, that being the Raiders club that gave San Diego its third loss in five games. Three of the opponents the Chargers have played -- Seattle, Arizona and Kansas City -- are among the five least-productive offenses in the 32-team National Football League.
    Just sayin’.
    Sayin’ what???
    As hard as it is to figure out how the Chargers can possibly be 2-3 after an early schedule that screamed 5-0 or 4-1 at the starting line, the truly difficult part is drawing any firm and fast conclusion as to just how good the Chargers are as a defensive team. Especially when they won’t have faced a Tom Brady -- actually, the Tom Brady -- until next week.
    A good place to start is with, well, the good. Despite the fact that they’ve played no fewer than a dozen different linebackers due to injuries, the Chargers defense is ranked first in the conference, second in the NFL, after allowing 246.2 yards per game. In the conference, only the Baltimore Ravens (156.6) are stingier against the pass than San Diego (159.8).
    Of the 106 points scored against San Diego, only 62 have been posted on the defense. The six touchdowns allowed by the Chargers ranks them behind only the Pittsburgh Steelers (four) and Minnesota Vikings (five). The rest of the opposing points came on returns of kickoffs and punts and fumbles, plus a safety.
    “So, yeah, we’ve lost three games and special teams hasn’t been where it has wanted to be,” said safety Eric Weddle. “But the defense had a position to win the game too, and we didn’t do it.”
    Weddle was referring to the game at Oakland last Sunday, a 35-27 loss in which the defense effectively shut down Oakland cold in taking a 24-15 lead, only to be rolled over on touchdown drives of 97 and 73 yards. On the former, the Raiders held the ball 11 minutes, 21 seconds.
    “The biggest thing is, we’d been limiting the big plays,” said defensive coordinator Ron Rivera. “Unfortunately, in the three losses, we’ve given up one big play that led to a score. Part of it is getting off in three or four or five downs, not allowing prolonged drives. You see what happens when you let teams have long drives.”
    If there’s been a buzzword over the past week, it’s been “Finish.” Not just finish off games and opponents, but single plays, play after play. As well as the defense has played, Rivera said, he could’ve shown “30-40” fine plays in the film room. Instead, the focus since Oakland was on the ones that got away.
    “A great example: the two (Raiders) fumbles we caused that went forward,” said Rivera. “We didn’t finish them. We put on the tape and exposed who didn’t finish the play out, who didn’t run to the ball …We’ve had more opportunities than we’ve ever had. Capitalize. Finish the play.”
    “Gotta finish, gotta finish, gotta finish,” said defensive lineman Travis Johnson. “The (fumbled) ball was on the ground three times and we didn’t get it. We’ve been doing some good things, but the game always comes down to a few plays. You make those plays and they don’t, you win the game. Simple as that.”
    Said fellow lineman Antonio Garay: “In the big picture, week after week, we are a very talented team, an athletic team, a strong and physical team. But it’s just been little things, here and there, little mishaps. The coaches have done a great job of correcting those little things. We’ve got to stay focused and not let those little things get the best of us.”
    The Big Fix(es), obviously, are having to be made on special teams. The first impulse of defensive players with coverage-team backgrounds was to get back on the field for kickoffs, and indeed, the renewed participation of the likes of Weddle, linebackers Stephen Cooper and Kevin Burnett and cornerbacks Quentin Jammer and Antoine Cason seemed to help plug the hole in the dike.
    Question is, has it taken away from the defense in more ways than one? Might fatigue result from those full-on dashes downfield, to say nothing of the high-speed collisions, for the players who stay on the field for defense? Especially late in the game?
    “You could say that,” said Cooper. “But at the same time it comes down to understanding your job. Whenever called upon _ offense, defense, special teams _ you gotta go in there and play. There’s no excuse.
    “Physically, it is hard ...Playing all those plays is tough, but you have to do it when there’s no one else to do it.”
  2. JohnnyX

    JohnnyX ☆☆☆☆☆

    Oct 7, 2010
    Tom Brady....When Tom Brady comes to town is when we see if this Defense is for real.

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