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Weddle now free to roam secondary

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Sep 8, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    Experience paying off for Chargers safety

    By Kevin Acee
    Union-Tribune Staff Writer
    2:00 a.m. September 8, 2009

    It's all there for Eric Weddle, figuratively and literally.

    A tweak in the position he plays, if not an absolute change, has set up Weddle to be in the middle of things more often even as he gets to take a step back.

    Ron Rivera, with his first offseason to tinker with the defense, has moved Weddle to more of a true free safety position.

    Should Weddle play up to the capability and maximize the tools the Chargers envisioned when they traded to take him early in the second round in 2007, the move could be among the most significant keys to the Chargers' success this season.

    “Probably the biggest thing we decided we had to do was we had to try to keep Eric in a position of what he's natural at, and that's free safety,” Rivera said. “We try not to bring him down in the box too much. Some of our defenses we have to, but not on a consistent basis where 40 to 50 percent of the time he's in the box.

    “We're trying to keep him back where he can play more like a center fielder.”

    There has been little difference in the past between the safety positions in the Chargers defense, and Weddle was almost as often an inside linebacker as he was a safety.

    Weddle was drafted high with the promise he was a “football player,” instinctive and football fast even though his measurables weren't all that impressive.

    His playing time progressively increased throughout the '07 season to the point where he was splitting snaps with Marlon McCree. Last season, his first as a starter, Weddle was second on the team in tackles but had just one interception. More searing in the mind are the times he had a ball clang off his hands because he wasn't in position.

    “Getting that year under my belt, that's a huge jump in itself,” he said. “Now, being put in a position where I cannot be out of the play so much . . . just having a chance to be around the ball more, being able to make an impact that way.”

    A step away or a second late can be the difference between a play being made or not.

    “It's one step (between) making a pick and just making a tackle,” Weddle said. “Every game there were certain plays throughout the season where you're a step away, and you read it and you don't trust yourself. Where now you've been through it; you've been through certain experiences that can help you.”

    While Weddle didn't intercept a lot of passes in training camp or the preseason, he was around the ball constantly.

    “Definitely, I can tell now — technique-wise, the angles,” Weddle said. “It's all about angles and leverage and seeing the route progression. Seeing the quarterback's eyes and the speed of everything.”

    A former quarterback (there weren't too many positions he didn't play at Utah) Weddle was entrusted with a lot last year. As a sort of QB for the defense, it is his job to assess the offense before each play and get the secondary into the right coverage.

    His new spot on the field should help him in that responsibility as well.

    “Eric is a very smart player,” secondary coach Steve Wilks said. “He's in a position now, he's back in his element, being that center fielder. And he's smart, he understands the game — formation recognition and that kind of thing. I'm very excited what he's able to do for us.”

  2. Skuzzlebutt

    Skuzzlebutt BoltTalker

    Jan 10, 2007
    I like Acee. I do. I think he is fair for the most part, but I think he paints too rosy a picture sometimes. This is one case. Acee has predicted 6 or more picks for Weddle this season, I for one would be THRILLED with that. And in this article he aludes to a lot more picks should be coming, based on his new experience.

    Well, based on experience, shouldn't we have seen a few more big plays and/or picks from Eric at the end of last season? Shouldn't we see a few more picks in the pre-season / training camp? We didn't see either, so why should we expect such great things? Yes, new scheme and other items may help, but I just don't know if we should expect a huge upgrade from Weddle this year. He isn't bad, I like the kid, but I don't know if a half dozen picks is realistic.
  3. Enormo

    Enormo BoltTalker

    Jul 22, 2007
    Yeah... one of the dozens of perenial pre-season "this year is different" articles. I'd be happy if it comes to pass but I won't be putting money down on it.
  4. Sydalish

    Sydalish Addicted to Sports

    Nov 11, 2007
    I like Weddle and he has shown glipses of what he is truly capable of. I hope Acee is right (it's 50/50 right?), this is def a bit of a "puff" piece but not toally out of the realm of possibility. I'm really excited to see what he can do now that Rivera has his full defense in place and not just the short-term band-aide we had at the end of last season.

    Combine that with the pick-up of Burnett, the return of Merriman, the drafting of English... I think Weddle could put together a pro-bowl season b/c as a unit they should be MUCH improved. At the end of the day tho, they need to execute on the field not on paper so we shall see...
    • Like Like x 1

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

    Jul 11, 2006
    This is a great move on Ron's part as the free safety is supposed to be the guy reads the play and move to where the action should be. I can't wait to see it in action, it should prove to be a big help to our corners and strong safety to focus on their jobs.
  6. RM24

    RM24 BoltTalker

    Jul 27, 2007
    Well said man! :tup:
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Bergo23

    Bergo23 BoltTalker

    Sep 28, 2006
    Pre season Rivera was bringing no heat, so lets see what kind of mistakes Weddle capitalizes on (and Cro and maybe less so "stone hands" Jammer) when these QB's have to rush throws. This D has the chance to be special, I just hope they stay healthy.
  8. coachmarkos

    coachmarkos BoltTalker

    Jul 12, 2009
    Weddle might be the best tackler on the team. Can you hear me Clinton Hart?
  9. Harley

    Harley BoltTalker

    Oct 18, 2006
    dunno if weddle will get 6 but i betcha Cason does...
  10. Cheapseats

    Cheapseats The fight for LA is over....LA lost.

    Jul 24, 2008
    Personally, I don't care who gets them...as long as they get them!!! I hope everybody on the defense gets picks and forced fumbles.
  11. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

    Aug 3, 2006
    The pressure they can bring this year is an order of magnitude greater than last year. That alone will simplify Weddle's job. QB's won't have as much time to exploit mistakes or to find an opening. Be interesting to see how often Weddle comes on a blitz, while they drop Burnett back into coverage.

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