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Zoned out: Defense refocuses on Saints

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Oct 24, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    LONDON – Say what you will about defensive coordinator Ted Cottrell and the lack of linebacker Shawne Merriman. For want of a tackle, the Chargers might have launched this 11,000-mile sojourn with a victory.

    With 19 points the difference between 3-4 and 7-0, it's the small things keeping this team on a bumpy path.

    Pick a play, there are so many from that game in Buffalo on Sunday. Any one of a number of crucial plays could be fingered to show what is wrong, as best is possible, with the Chargers' defense.

    Of the three plays on which the Chargers might have made a stop on third-and-long and changed the outcome of their 23-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills, it is most intriguing and most telling to look at the failure that cost them dearly in the fourth quarter.

    With Buffalo ahead 20-14, facing third-and-8 at their 3 after Kassim Osgood had downed a punt at the 1, the Bills lined up with three receivers wide.

    The Chargers were in a soft zone.
    Cornerback Antonio Cromartie was playing five yards off the line of scrimmage. Lee Evans, lined up opposite Cromartie on quarterback Trent Edwards' left, ran to the 10 as Cromartie backpedaled to the 14. Suddenly Evans turned back to the 9 and caught a pass from Edwards.

    Antoine Cason charged up, as did Cromartie. Evans slipped through Cason's attempted tackle and fell to the 12.

    First down. The Bills would move to the 21 and then get backed up to the 16 on a penalty before punting. The difference in field position may have been crucial, as the Chargers came within nine yards of scoring a go-ahead touchdown on their next possession.

    Where to start with the Chargers problems?

    The Bills, for one, were surprised at all the zone defense they saw and the lack of defensive backs pressing their receivers.

    “I expected a little more man coverage, because they have two well-respected cornerbacks,” Bills receiver Josh Reed told the Buffalo News. “I was shocked a lot of times when we would go out there and they would be in a zone and there was a lot of just going out there and finding the open holes.”

    A review of the film confirmed the Chargers' corners continually playing off Bills receivers. They were not jamming receivers at the line, instead giving huge cushions. By one count, the Chargers were in press-man coverage eight times.

    “I leave the defensive scheme to the coordinator,” safety Clinton Hart said.
    “We play what's called,” corner Quentin Jammer echoed.

    Cottrell hinted that is not always the case, that players can cheat back and did so against the Bills.
    “We've addressed it,” Cottrell said. “It should be different (Sunday against the Saints).”

    For the Chargers' sake, it better be. They can't play man all the time, but they need to mix it up against Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who has become so adept at reading defenses and making quick decisions.

    “You've got to,” Jammer said when asked if the Chargers would play the Saints differently. “Their receivers are speedy guys. You can't just let them run free. You've got to get hands on them.”

    Edwards was 25-for-30 against the Chargers; Brees could certainly be that accurate if some things don't change. Brees leads the league in total passes and has completed more within six yards and more beyond 20 yards than any quarterback as well.

    “We're going to try to get up in their face a little bit,” Hart said. “We did give (Buffalo) a little room. Drew is an efficient quarterback, so he'll pick you apart if you're not careful. We plan on keeping them at bay. We know they're going to throw it 40, 50 times.”

    Chargers coach Norv Turner and Cottrell believe the key is pressure, which the Chargers did not get on Edwards and have had trouble getting against quarterbacks adept at the quick read and pass.

    “He does a good job reading and getting rid of the ball,” Cottrell said of Brees. “It's getting him out of rhythm.”

    Brees is the toughest quarterback to sack in the league, having been taken down just seven times in his 270 drops. Even without injured running back Reggie Bush, Brees will use the short pass and check down to the fullest.

    “(Buffalo) did a good job of blocking but they also threw a lot of check downs,” linebacker Shaun Phillips said.

    “Not too many people get sacks on check downs. ... Guys in practice continue to get better working on their pass rush and technique knowing that they need to make plays. The guys in the secondary are sure they stay on another half a second longer because we're not far off.”

    The Chargers did not force a turnover against the Bills and have just 10 takeaways this season, 11th in the league. This is a team whose league-leading 48 turnovers helped them lead the league in scoring efficiency in 2007, allowing opponents to score on just 23 percent of their drives. They're 21st this season (38 percent).

    “Breaking down the film it shows that we're just not making the big plays,” Phillips said. “We're not playing bad football but we're used to either leading the league in sacks or leading the league in interceptions or leading the league in turnovers. That's what we're used to – the big play, which makes football a lot easier. That's one thing that we're lacking. We've been practicing trying to make the big play.”

    They're also working on tackling. The Chargers missed numerous tackles and allowed chunks of yardage after contact last week.

    While NFL teams do not go live in practice, defenders were told this week to wrap up and simulate finishing tackles this week.

    Despite the lack of big plays and pass rush and the issues with coverage, the Chargers could have fared better in Buffalo if they'd just made a tackle.

    Said Jammer: “I can count three of them off the top of my head where third-and-5, third-and-7, all you have to do is make a tackle and we're off the field.”
  2. BFISA

    BFISA Well-Known Member

    Nov 16, 2005
    Poor tackling has been a pain in the *** all season!! :tdown: :icon_evil:
  3. Showmeyourbolt

    Showmeyourbolt Well-Known Member

    Sep 17, 2007
    Sounds like the players are pissed at Cottrell's play calling.
  4. VikingBolt

    VikingBolt BoltTalker

    Oct 8, 2006
    And just maybe if the refs' hadn't made bad calls in the first games, they'd have more heart and confidence to KNOW they can win every game.
    • Like Like x 1

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

    Jul 11, 2006
    The soft 5-7 yard cushion has got to stop, it's killing us.:yes:
  6. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Jammer's comment spoke volumes, IMO.

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