Welcome to the 2012 season's first Defensive Analysis!
Week one of Charger football kicked off in Oakland on Monday night and we learned so much from this new team. This was a great first game for the six new players on defense. Let's refresh your memory on who they are.
With Antonio Garay out, free agent pick up Aubrayo Franklin took reps at nose tackle. In Luis Castillo's old spot is Kendall Reyes at left defensive end. At right outside linebacker previously from the Baltimore Ravens is Jarrett Johnson. Taking third down reps from Takeo Spikes and Donald Butler is former Chief Demorrio Williams. In the mix at both outside linebacker spots is first round draft pick Melvin Ingram. Finally at strong safety is former Packer and Seahawk Atari
As bad as the Chargers were last year at defending the run, or more specifically, Michael Bush, you would expect Darren McFadden to have had 200 scrimmage yards with his 28 touches. However, he was contained extremely well, with only 32 yards on his 15 carries and 86 yards on 13 receptions.
GIFS after the jump, and more conclusions....
Here is the grading for the first and second half. Also, a tease.
Corey Liuget. He was a monster stopping the run, continually being disruptive at the line and moving around the Raider linemen. His dominance up front probably kept DMC from getting 25 more rushing yards. He wasn't very good in pass rush outside of about 3 plays but he was doubled frequently, which helped his grade look respectable.
Most of you know how long I've been praising Donald Butler for a long time and he showed why constantly during the game. He's a fantastic blitzer with brute force and speed to get pressure. He's also a tackling machine and does a great job fighting off blockers. He just needs to improve his angles against the fast runners like DMC to get a quicker stop.
Cam Thomas is still playing like he's the future at nose tackle, especially on passing plays. He gets the pocket to collapse so often that eventually he'll start getting hits and sacks regularly. He's still inconsistent against the run but the rest of the players around him more than make up for his average play in that regard.
Melvin Ingram looks like the real thing. He's explosive and is a threat to the quarterback whenever he lines up to rush. He dropped into coverage more than I'd like but he held up well, rarely getting tested. His small size makes him a liability on run plays, like Antwan Barnes, but he'll probably learn to get better. He's a natural for the pass rush.
FInally, I'd like to dump my biggest load of praise on Kendall Reyes. Seven times I credited him with pressure and he barely played a third of the game. Vaughn Martin may lose his starting spot soon because Reyes looked like a much better player whenever he was on the field. Great push inside, athletic enough to rush outside, and capable of great plays at any time. Keep your eyes on 91, bolt fans.
Vaughn Martin. After a very respectable performance last season in the absence of El Toro, Martin, outside of 3 plays, was worthless rushing the quarterback. He also had a silly penalty and I don't think I saw his hair hanging out of his helmet. Did he cut it? Did Delilah cut it? Because the last guy she did that do became temporarily worthless as well. It's too early to just give his job away to Kendall Reyes, but I wouldn't mind.
Jarrett Johnson. Now don't get me wrong, he's definitely good at stopping the run, but he's not very good in zone coverage. He drops to shallow, like he's only there to defend swing routes and anything well short of the first down marker. Had he dropped back a few yards more he would have had better position on a few throws his way. I'm sure this is something he'll improve with more time here. He did have a near full career at Baltimore.
Marcus Gilchrist continues to struggle. Aside from an epic stiffarm from DMC, he gave up a score by reacting to the receiver too slowly, and missed a few tackles as well drop a potential interception. He plays better at corner than nickelback, and I hope Shareece Wright is an improvement when he comes back.