Game Preview: Miami Dolphins at San Diego Chargers, Chargers on Defense

The worst thing about the San Diego Chargers putting Bob Sanders on Injured-Reserve isn't that Bob can't seem to stay healthy, although that sucks too. It's that signing Bob Sanders locked up the starting job at SS. They weren't going to sign another free-agent SS, or draft one high, with the promise of "Bob will get hurt and then it's your time to shine!" A.J. Smith was basically crossing his fingers, hoping that Sanders worked out for cheap, content with Steve Gregory playing there again if he has to.

Was Gregory anybody's first option there, though? Of course not. I personally love Steve and think that he's the glue that binds this Chargers defense, not to mention one of the better playmakers in terms of creating turnovers that San Diego has. However, in an ideal world the Chargers would've been able to predict Sanders injury and could've instead signed a long-term solution at SS. Someone like Dawan Landry or Danieal Manning. That's why they call it a risk, though.

The Dolphins offense has seen a bunch of different looks this season. They looked strong against the non-defense of the New England Patriots, but couldn't keep up with the No Huddle Show run by Tom Brady and Co. They lost the turnover battle and a close game to the Houston Texans, who have an attacking defense now that Wade Phillips is pulling the strings. 

Last week against the Browns, Reggie Bush got loose for 37 total yards (that's rushing yards, receiving yards and punt return yards combined) and superstar Joe Haden essentially shut down Brandon Marshall. Take those two guys out of the picture, and do a good job against Anthony Fasano, and the Dolphins offense has a hard time getting anywhere.

I'm worried about two things in this game for the Chargers.....

  1. The Bolts have a real weakness covering TEs. Luckily, the Chiefs and Vikings didn't have any real talent to exploit it, but the Patriots did. Anthony Fasano isn't the best TE in the league, but he can put up numbers every so often.
  2. Quentin Jammer is playing on a bum wheel and Antoine Cason doesn't look right (yet) after playing all of the preseason with a broken hand. I'm worried about the Dolphins good WRs (Marshal, Davone Bess) making big plays. Especially if Henne gets the same time that Brady and Matt Cassel got against SD.
Statistically, the Dolphins have the 14th best passing offense and the 7th best running attack in the NFL. They may be 0-3, but they're probably better than the Chiefs team that almost beat San Diego last week. If nothing else, their offense is better.

The key to this game for San Diego will be two-fold. The Chargers will need to get lots of pressure on Chad Henne to force bad throws and prevent big plays. This will help the second part of the plan, which is to create turnover opportunities and pounce on them.
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