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Weddle knows there's no free ride at safety

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 26, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

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    The touchdown pass at the end of the Carolina game wasn't his responsibility, but he was close enough to have changed the outcome.

    At Denver, he was partially responsible for the Broncos' final touchdown and then blew his coverage on the game-winning two-point conversion.

    These are the plays that haunted Eric Weddle last week.

    “I was hard on myself,” Weddle said. “I was never in a position where I didn't make a play. I've always been that guy if you needed someone to make a play, I was able to make it.”

    But there he was jumping and missing before Dante Rosario came down with the ball to end the opener. And there he was a step behind Brandon Marshall and then Eddie Royal on successive heartbreaking plays in Denver.

    If those plays had not been so crucial, were they not replayed again and again on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNNews and ESPNSiberia, Weddle could have learned and moved on like the young free safety he is.

    But after two weeks, Weddle was seen by many as a significant hole in a secondary that was leaking yards and big plays.

    The reality is that he was not horrible, not even close. He just needed to be better.

    There is much to grasp when making your first starts in the NFL at the position referred to as the quarterback of the defense.

    Being a free safety in the moments between plays can be like being an air traffic controller – if the air traffic controller were in the middle of the airplanes flying around his screen and the pilots of those planes were having a difficult time getting his instructions.

    The instant one play ends, Weddle must assess the down and distance, which hashmark the ball is placed on, remember a team's tendencies, find out the play, communicate with the rest of the secondary, look at the formation, read the quarterback and most likely communicate again with the rest of the secondary about changes based on the formation, all this evolving perhaps until milliseconds before the ball is snapped.

    “You have to know every defense inside and out,” said secondary coach Bill Bradley, a former safety. “Because you're the one who has to make the adjustments by hand signals or vocal – on the run.”

    And then the free safety has to actually make plays himself.

    Said Weddle, at first downplaying the magnitude of his responsibilities: “It just comes with the job. I relish that kind of stuff.”

    Well suited for this job -- because of a natural sense for the game -- Weddle essentially ran this defense in college. He also played quarterback, receiver and running back at the University of Utah. He has the combination of knowledge and instincts that prompted the Chargers to move up in the 2007 draft with the idea he would be their free safety for years to come.

    But the fact is he is three starts into this gig, with the fourth Sunday in Oakland, playing bigger and stronger players, smarter quarterbacks and more complex schemes. Pro offenses make fewer mistakes than those in college, and breakdowns on defense are more often exposed.

    All things considered, Weddle is pleased with his assimilation into his crucial role. But after a game against the Jets this past Monday in which he was clearly more comfortable, he acknowledged his first two games (and the mistakes therein) might be partly attributed to his newness.

    “That could have been the case, playing every down getting a feel for it,” he said. “I didn't think it would be that big a difference. But the third game I was just flying around. I told myself just go out and do it. I don't know if I was hesitant (the first two games), but that could have been it. Against the Jets, I felt everything was clicking for myself.”

    A hesitant, unprepared player does not make the interception Weddle made on Brett Favre in the second quarter.

    Weddle swooping in to dive and catch a ball thrown to seemingly no one was a combination of knowing Favre's tendency to throw to a certain spot against a certain defense, selling Favre on playing inside and instincts of knowing when to go for the ball.

    “He's a ball-hawking kid,” strong safety Clinton Hart said. “That's what he has to do more. He showed his ability there.”

    A similar situation two weeks prior resulted in Weddle running into Hart, because he didn't anticipate the play as well.

    “He said next time the same thing happens I'm going to make a play,” Bradley said. “That was really a pretty interception. You know he's making progress when something like that happens.”

    Weddle said he told himself after the Denver game to commit to continued study and work in practice and to having fun.

    “You've got to expect yourself to make those plays,” he said. “You do it your whole life. You can do it here. In my position you either make the play, or it's a touchdown.”

    Injury updates

    – For the first time all season, the Chargers had a complete complement of healthy players at their starting positions for Friday drills, save linebacker Shawne Merriman.

    Only center Nick Hardwick, in the final phase of his comeback from foot surgery, is listed as questionable for Sunday's game. While cautiously saying it's “50-50” that he'll play, Hardwick is generally expected to make his first start of the season.

    – Oakland ruled out running back Justin Fargas (groin) and guard Cooper Carlisle (ankle), and said rookie back Darren McFadden (toe) is questionable. The only other tailback on the active roster is Michael Bush.

    Note

    He might not seem the most sentimental of sorts, especially when it comes to recollection of his time (2004-05) as head coach of the Raiders, but road games against the Silver and Black do have a bit of a homecoming feel for Norv Turner.
    “Not so much that I coached there, but probably because that's where I grew up,” said Turner, raised in Martinez in the hills above the East Bay.

    “I went to (Raiders) games in the mid-'60s. It's always special going back there, thinking of friends and all the different things. It's a special place.”

    UT
     
  2. BOLTS4LIFE

    BOLTS4LIFE Banned Banned

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    So far, Weddle has been getting raped this season.

    Hope he figures something out.
     
  3. Showmeyourbolt

    Showmeyourbolt Well-Known Member

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    Raped? That's a nice choice of word..................
     
  4. cranberry

    cranberry BoltTalker

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    Weddle will have fine football games ahead. If he would
    have had more playing time last year, he could have easily
    be better the first two games.
     
  5. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    Wrong. It was Royal both times.

    Weddle will be OK. Growing pains.
     
  6. BOLTS4LIFE

    BOLTS4LIFE Banned Banned

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    Hope so.
    I've always like Weddle but so far, he's been the opposing QB's b!tch.
     
  7. HEXEDBOLT

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

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    B4L, knows balls, just ask him.
     
  8. AnteaterCharger

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

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    unlike someone like freakin Wilhelm, Weddle is learning from his mistakes and working hard.
     
  9. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    Weddle is adjusting to signal calling in addition to the position play. He'll be fine when he blends the two instinctively. He is making steady progress. His job will get easier when and if Jamal is finally in game shape and coop gets back. We will get a hard read on Jamal tomorrow.
     

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