So far this season the Chargers defense has allowed 4.6 yards per carry for 568 rushing yards. Almost a third of that total came in one game allowing the Broncos to rush for 163 total yards. As bad as that sounds, consider that this same defense has only allowed 898 passing yards this year, though half that total was put up by Tom Brady. In any case, they are so far the second best pass defense at the expense of seventeenth against the run. To those who don't think he is as valuable as evidenced: miss DE Luis Castillo much?
Lots of players struggled to stop the run, and the lack of sacks may lead you to believe there was no pressure, but the facts may surprise you. Check out the grading below and the full analysis after the jump.
The players by number, in order: Spikes, English, Butler, Diggs, Garay, Thomas, Harris, Nwagbuo, Martin, Liuget, Phillips, Barnes, and LaBoy. Scoring is basically 2.0, 1.5 , 1.0 , 0.5 , 0.0 being Dominated (2.0) to owned (0.0)
Update: Video is up
Willis McGahee had just 16 rushes, but 9 of those were considered "successful" rushes going for 116 yards, with the other 7 going for 3,2,0,3,-3,3,and 1 yard. So run stopping was either great or nonexistent. Antonio Garay struggled mightily this game, as did Vaughn Martin, Ogemdi Nwagbuo, Takeo Spikes, Donald Butler, Larry English, Na'il Diggs, Corey Liuget, Antwan Barnes and Travis LaBoy. There isn't much to talk about as far as the passing game, except that Tebow had a passer rating of 101.7 which is almost as high as Rivers and Orton combined. Scary. At least it was only for one quarter.
Defensive Player of the game: Antoine Cason. Cason was great in coverage, sound in his tackling, and broke up numerous passes. Most importantly, the 2 point conversion pass to Brandon Lloyd. Dante Hughes continues to impress in all aspects of the game, and Quentin Jammer is still Quentin Jammer.
Defensive bums of the game: The entire front seven except for Shaun Phillips and Cam Thomas. Phillips only because of 3 standout plays, like the pressure leading to the pick, and the backfield tackle for loss. Either Denver's line really wanted to dominate, or our boys in Bolts were all having an off day, conveniently at the same time.
During the game, Greg Manusky came out in an unusual nickel formation with one Lineman, 3 Outside linebackers and 2 Inside linebackers, and the nickel secondary. He did this twice, and was successful each time stopping the pass. Coverage once, pressure the second time. I hope to see this formation again in the future, especially in 3rd and long situations. Having the 3 best rushers on the field at the same time can force the QB to want to get rid of the ball in a hurry, or not notice a blitz from the secondary as Phillips (who's great in coverage) drops into a zone.
The bye week should give Greg time to coach up his front seven and get some valuable practice time in. I see certain aspects of the game that could improve, like gap control and containment, and zone coverage over the middle being way too tight. With rest and a chance to come out healthy against the Jets, I think this defense can win the game if Rivers happens to have another rough outing. So far, my confidence in Manusky hasn't diminished, and I still think this defense can continue to improve and become more dominant. As usual, thanks to Orz for preparing the clip. Rec if you want more analysis and more Orz.