SAN DIEGO - NOVEMBER 22: Linebacker Shaun Phillips #95 of the San Diego Chargers tackles quarterback Kyle Orton #8 of the Denver Broncos on an unsuccessful fleaflicker play at Qualcomm Stadium on November 22 2010 in San Diego California. (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
I really don't know what to say about Shaun Phillips' 2010 season. He's been a monster. With 6 games left to go in the season, Phillips is only 2.5 sacks away from his career high. This is his sixth consecutive season with at least 7 sacks. Somewhere in between living in Shawne Merriman's shadow and sparring with the media, Shaun Phillips became the defense's most dangerous weapon and one of the leaders on the team.
From what I saw in the stands last night, the Chargers defensive gameplan was so simplistic that I was amazed the Chiefs lost to the Broncos at all. Once it became evident that the Broncos could keep Phillips away from Kyle Orton, they got comfortable throwing 3-4 yard out-routes and comebacks and trying to make yards after the catch. Ron Rivera countered by putting his big, physical CBs on the line where they could bump the WR and ruin the timing of a short route.
Before long, Antoine Cason was in position to grab an interception and then Orton was taking a second before letting those passes out of his hand. That extra second was all Phillips, Larry English(!), Vaughn Martin(!) and Cam Thomas(!) needed to get to the Broncos QB and ruin another Denver offensive drive.
The key to everything, at least on the defensive side of the ball, was that the Broncos knew Phillips was getting to Orton quickly and couldn't afford to chuck the ball downfield. This is why the Chargers, who didn't have the same problem with Philip Rivers, ended up with a lot more big plays through the air than their opponents.
It seems like it's been a while since the Chargers had a pass-rusher that the offense couldn't stop, even when they gameplanned to stop him, but apparently Shaun Phillips has been that guy all along....and he just keeps getting better.
|vs DEN / 11.22.10||Tackles||Sacks||Interceptions|