The Resurgent San Diego Chargers Defense

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Looking at every defensive drive by the San Diego Chargers since Dwight Freeney's injury. How has John Pagano turned this group around?

Eleven quarters. A little over 166 minutes of game action. That is how long it has been since John Pagano's defense has given up a touchdown.

Now, let's take a look at what the San Diego Chargers are working with on the defensive side of the ball.

  • An unproven cornerback on one side of the field
  • A risky free agent signed at the other starting cornerback position who appears to be a bust
  • Several guys trying desperately to be as effective as an average nickel cornerback
  • A one-dimensional Nose Tackle without a backup.
  • A defensive captain/star at linebacker that has missed almost as many games (3) as he's played in (4) and has been hobbled by injury when on the field
  • A one-dimensional rookie linebacker that missed all of training camp, preseason and the first few weeks of the season....and is now a starter
  • A cornerback-turned-safety that is still trying to figure out if he can play either position
  • A second-year pass rusher that....oh, wait, nevermind. ACL injury took him out for the year before preseason even began. Well, they have a veteran pass rusher that....oh, wait. He's gone for the season too, the result of a quad injury in the win over the Cowboys
  • An All-Pro safety that is trying to figure out how to best play four positions at the same time
  • A dominating defensive lineman
  • A second-year defensive lineman that has hit a sophomore slump and has glaring weaknesses in his game

That's....that's not much. John Pagano basically has one dominant defensive lineman and a great safety, and he's trying to stop NFL offenses with that plus a bag of bricks.

Let's expand out those original numbers a bit more. Dwight Freeney went down for the season with about four minutes left in the first half against the Cowboys. In the fourteen quarters since, 210 minutes of NFL game action, the Chargers have given up just two touchdowns.

I'm trying not to scream here. I'm trying not to use too many caps, or bolded words, or exclamation points...but OH MY GOD!!!! John Pagano is doing what Ron Rivera did in San Diego in 2010. He's earning himself critical acclaim and probably a Head Coaching interview with his schemes (if he keeps it up).

Let's do a short (long) breakdown of Pagano's last fourteen quarters of coaching, shall we? I think, after all the bashing of him we've done at BFTB over the last year or so, he deserves that.

1st and 10 at DAL 20 (Shotgun) D.Murray right tackle to DAL 23 for 3 yards (K.Reyes, E.Weddle).
2nd and 7 at DAL 23 (Shotgun) PENALTY on DAL-C.Beasley, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at DAL 23 - No Play.
2nd and 12 at DAL 18 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short right to D.Murray to DAL 27 for 9 yards (D.Butler, C.Liuget).
3rd and 3 at DAL 27 T.Romo pass short middle to C.Beasley to DAL 32 for 5 yards (R.Walker). Penalty on SD, Defensive 12 On-field, declined.
1st and 10 at DAL 32 D.Murray up the middle to DAL 36 for 4 yards (M.Gilchrist, C.Liuget). PENALTY on SD-D.Butler, Unnecessary Roughness, 15 yards, enforced at DAL 36.
1st and 10 at SD 49 D.Murray left end to 50 for -1 yards (C.Liuget, J.Johnson).
2nd and 11 at 50 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short right to J.Witten (K.Reyes).
3rd and 11 at 50 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete short left to D.Bryant.
4th and 11 at 50 C.Jones punts 29 yards to SD 21, Center-L.Ladouceur, fair catch by E.Royal. PENALTY on SD-J.Johnson, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at SD 21.

The big stop on first down led to the even bigger stop on second down (Kendall Reyes on Jason Witten?!?), which led to the Chargers being in a position to make a stop on 3rd & 11.

1st and 10 at DAL 23 D.Murray up the middle to DAL 32 for 9 yards (R.Walker, J.Johnson).
2nd and 1 at DAL 32 T.Romo pass short right to D.Murray to DAL 38 for 6 yards (E.Weddle).
1st and 10 at DAL 38 D.Murray left guard to DAL 44 for 6 yards (D.Butler, R.Walker).
2nd and 4 at DAL 44 T.Romo pass short right to D.Bryant to SD 46 for 10 yards (J.Patrick).
1st and 10 at SD 46 T.Romo pass short right to D.Bryant to SD 40 for 6 yards (J.Patrick).
2nd and 4 at SD 40 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to C.Beasley to SD 34 for 6 yards (M.Gilchrist). PENALTY on DAL-R.Leary, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at SD 40 - No Play.
2nd and 14 at 50 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short left to C.Beasley to SD 44 for 6 yards (R.Marshall).
3rd and 8 at SD 44 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete deep middle to J.Witten (E.Weddle).
4th and 8 at SD 44 C.Jones punts 44 yards to end zone, Center-L.Ladouceur, Touchback.

Holding penalty killed this drive, but credit Eric Weddle for another stop on Witten.

1st and 10 at DAL 21 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short left to T.Williams to DAL 30 for 9 yards (R.Marshall).
2nd and 1 at DAL 30 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short right to T.Williams to DAL 39 for 9 yards (J.Patrick).
1st and 10 at DAL 39 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to D.Murray to DAL 40 for 1 yard (D.Butler, M.Gilchrist). PENALTY on DAL-J.Parnell, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at DAL 39 - No Play.
1st and 20 at DAL 29 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to J.Witten to DAL 40 for 11 yards (D.Butler).
2nd and 9 at DAL 40 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete deep middle to J.Witten. PENALTY on SD-D.Butler, Defensive Pass Interference, 25 yards, enforced at DAL 40 - No Play.
1st and 10 at SD 35 (Shotgun) T.Romo sacked at SD 42 for -7 yards (J.Johnson).
2nd and 17 at SD 42 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to J.Witten to SD 34 for 8 yards (E.Weddle).
3rd and 9 at SD 34 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to J.Witten to SD 24 for 10 yards (D.Butler).
1st and 10 at SD 24 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to D.Murray to SD 22 for 2 yards (D.Butler).
2nd and 8 at SD 22 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass incomplete deep middle to J.Witten.
3rd and 8 at SD 22 (Shotgun) T.Romo scrambles up the middle to SD 7 for 15 yards (E.Weddle).
1st and 7 at SD 7 T.Romo pass incomplete short right to J.Witten (M.Gilchrist).
Timeout #1 by SD at 02:50.
2nd and 7 at SD 7 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to T.Williams to SD 1 for 6 yards (C.Butler; E.Weddle). FUMBLES (C.Butler), RECOVERED by SD-R.Marshall at SD 0. Touchback. The Replay Assistant challenged the fumble ruling, and the play was Upheld.

The Crezdon Butler forced fumble that kept the Cowboys out of the end zone. Let us never forget it.

No defense is going to stop every NFL offense on every drive, but the good ones will find ways to get turnovers in the red zone.

1st and 10 at DAL 8 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short left to J.Witten pushed ob at DAL 15 for 7 yards (R.Marshall).
2nd and 3 at DAL 15 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short left to T.Williams to DAL 29 for 14 yards (R.Walker).
1st and 10 at DAL 29 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to D.Bryant to DAL 41 for 12 yards (R.Marshall).
1st and 10 at DAL 41 (Shotgun) T.Romo pass short middle to D.Murray to DAL 46 for 5 yards (J.Wynn). FUMBLES (J.Wynn), recovered by DAL-T.Romo at DAL 40. T.Romo to DAL 40 for no gain (R.Marshall).

I debated leaving this out. The Cowboys were down 9 points with 1:02 left in the game when this drive started. This is basically prevent defense, but it worked.

1st and 10 at SD 44 T.Pryor pass deep right to R.Streater for 44 yards, TOUCHDOWN. 0 7
S.Janikowski extra point is GOOD, Center-J.Condo, Holder-M.King. 0 7
S.Janikowski kicks 66 yards from OAK 35 to SD -1. D.Woodhead to SD 23 for 24 yards (T.Jones).

Not a particularly good start against the Raiders. A bad Philip Rivers interception led to good field position in front of a crazy crowd. The Chargers defense was not prepared for a deep pass on the first play by the Oakland offense.

1st and 10 at OAK 12 (Shotgun) PENALTY on OAK-A.Gurode, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at OAK 12 - No Play.
1st and 15 at OAK 7 (Shotgun) T.Pryor left end to OAK 15 for 8 yards (R.Marshall).
2nd and 7 at OAK 15 R.Jennings up the middle to OAK 19 for 4 yards (D.Butler).
3rd and 3 at OAK 19 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short left to D.Moore to OAK 30 for 11 yards (R.Marshall, D.Cox).
1st and 10 at OAK 30 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short middle to D.Moore to OAK 47 for 17 yards (E.Weddle).
1st and 10 at OAK 47 (Shotgun) R.Jennings up the middle to 50 for 3 yards (J.Johnson).
2nd and 7 at 50 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short left to J.Ford to SD 40 for 10 yards (D.Butler, D.Cox).
1st and 10 at SD 40 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short left to M.Reece to SD 32 for 8 yards (D.Butler).
2nd and 2 at SD 32 (Shotgun) R.Jennings left tackle to SD 29 for 3 yards (J.Johnson, M.Te'o).
1st and 10 at SD 29 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short right to R.Streater to SD 21 for 8 yards (D.Cox; J.Johnson). PENALTY on SD-M.Te'o, Defensive Holding, 5 yards, enforced at SD 29 - No Play.
1st and 10 at SD 24 (Shotgun) T.Pryor right end to SD 18 for 6 yards (R.Marshall).
2nd and 4 at SD 18 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short middle to M.Rivera to SD 13 for 5 yards (D.Butler). Penalty on SD-K.Reyes, Defensive Offside, declined.
1st and 10 at SD 13 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short middle to M.Reece to SD 5 for 8 yards (E.Weddle).
2nd and 2 at SD 5 (Shotgun) R.Jennings up the middle to SD 2 for 3 yards (C.Thomas; S.Lissemore).
1st and 2 at SD 2 T.Pryor pass short right to D.Moore for 2 yards, TOUCHDOWN. 0 13
S.Janikowski extra point is GOOD, Center-J.Condo, Holder-M.King. 0 14
S.Janikowski kicks 73 yards from OAK 35 to SD -8. D.Woodhead, Touchback.

This is a dog of a series by the defense. Terrelle Pryor had all day to throw, and would just run the ball when nobody was open. This was the defense at its lowest point. This is the worst they have been all season.

1st and 10 at OAK 1 T.Pryor pass short right to J.Olawale to OAK 5 for 4 yards (R.Marshall; E.Weddle).
2nd and 6 at OAK 5 R.Jennings left guard to OAK 5 for no gain (S.Lissemore).
3rd and 6 at OAK 5 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short right to R.Streater to OAK 11 for 6 yards (D.Cox).
1st and 10 at OAK 11 R.Jennings left guard to OAK 17 for 6 yards (M.Gilchrist).
2nd and 4 at OAK 17 (Shotgun) T.Pryor right end to OAK 22 for 5 yards (L.English).
1st and 10 at OAK 22 T.Pryor pass incomplete short right to M.Rivera.
2nd and 10 at OAK 22 R.Jennings up the middle to OAK 27 for 5 yards (J.Johnson; D.Butler).
3rd and 5 at OAK 27 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short right to J.Stewart to OAK 28 for 1 yard (J.Addae). Penalty on OAK-M.McCants, Illegal Formation, declined.
4th and 4 at OAK 28 M.King punts 50 yards to SD 22, Center-J.Condo. E.Royal MUFFS catch, touched at SD 22, RECOVERED by OAK-C.Chekwa at SD 22. C.Chekwa to SD 22 for no gain (E.Royal). Penalty on OAK, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, declined. PENALTY on OAK-K.Burnett, Unnecessary Roughness, 15 yards, enforced at SD 22. Unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Oakland bench.
1st and 10 at SD 37 (Shotgun) R.Jennings up the middle to SD 31 for 6 yards (C.Thomas; D.Butler).
2nd and 4 at SD 31 R.Jennings left guard to SD 29 for 2 yards (J.Johnson; C.Thomas).
3rd and 2 at SD 29 T.Pryor pass incomplete deep right to M.Rivera.
4th and 2 at SD 29 S.Janikowski 47 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-J.Condo, Holder-M.King. 0 17
S.Janikowski kicks 65 yards from OAK 35 to end zone, Touchback.

This is actually two stops in one, courtesy of Eddie Royal's muffed punt. Give the defense a ton of credit for being on the field this long without giving up a touchdown.

1st and 10 at OAK 14 (Shotgun) T.Pryor scrambles left end to OAK 25 for 11 yards (J.Addae).
1st and 10 at OAK 25 (Shotgun) PENALTY on OAK-K.Barnes, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at OAK 25 - No Play.
1st and 15 at OAK 20 (Shotgun) R.Jennings up the middle to OAK 29 for 9 yards (D.Butler, M.Gilchrist).
2nd and 6 at OAK 29 (No Huddle, Shotgun) T.Pryor pass incomplete short left to D.Moore.
3rd and 6 at OAK 29 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass deep right to D.Moore to OAK 48 for 19 yards (D.Cox).
1st and 10 at OAK 48 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass incomplete short right to D.Moore.
2nd and 10 at OAK 48 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short middle to R.Streater to SD 46 for 6 yards (C.Liuget).
Timeout #1 by OAK at 00:48.
3rd and 4 at SD 46 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass incomplete short left to D.Moore (R.Marshall).
4th and 4 at SD 46 M.King punts 46 yards to end zone, Center-J.Condo, Touchback.

The Raiders were up 17-0 when they got the ball with about two minutes left in the first half. Taking away the threat of the run helped Pagano's defense.

1st and 10 at OAK 29 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass deep right to D.Moore to SD 36 for 35 yards (R.Marshall). Penalty on SD-R.Marshall, Defensive Pass Interference, declined.
1st and 10 at SD 36 M.Reece right guard to SD 33 for 3 yards (C.Liuget, M.Gilchrist).
2nd and 7 at SD 33 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass deep right to D.Moore for 33 yards, TOUCHDOWN NULLIFIED by Penalty. PENALTY on OAK-D.Moore, Illegal Touch Pass, 5 yards, enforced at SD 33 - No Play.
2nd and 12 at SD 38 (Shotgun) M.Reece right guard to SD 36 for 2 yards (C.Liuget; M.Te'o).
3rd and 10 at SD 36 (Shotgun) T.Pryor sacked at SD 43 for -7 yards (J.Patrick).
4th and 17 at SD 43 M.King punts 34 yards to SD 9, Center-J.Condo, downed by OAK-K.Maiava.

You can almost feel the tension reading this. A huge stop by Corey Liuget and Manti Te'o on second down led to that massive Johnny Patrick sack on third down. Points saved in the clearest form.

1st and 10 at OAK 19 T.Pryor sacked at OAK 10 for -9 yards (S.Lissemore).
2nd and 19 at OAK 10 (Shotgun) T.Pryor scrambles left end to OAK 11 for 1 yard (M.Te'o).
3rd and 18 at OAK 11 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short left to M.Reece to OAK 20 for 9 yards (R.Walker).
4th and 9 at OAK 20 M.King punts 50 yards to SD 30, Center-J.Condo, fair catch by E.Royal.

The defense is building on its past successes now. The sack on first down makes for two sacks on two consecutive defensive plays by the Chargers, and it effectively kills the drive.

1st and 10 at OAK 16 (Shotgun) T.Pryor right end to OAK 21 for 5 yards (M.Te'o).
2nd and 5 at OAK 21 T.Pryor sacked at OAK 18 for -3 yards (J.Johnson).
3rd and 8 at OAK 18 (Shotgun) T.Pryor sacked at OAK 12 for -6 yards (J.Johnson, L.English). FUMBLES (J.Johnson), recovered by OAK-A.Gurode at OAK 11. A.Gurode to OAK 11 for no gain (Team).
4th and 15 at OAK 11 M.King punts 64 yards to SD 25, Center-J.Condo. E.Royal to SD 46 for 21 yards (J.Stewart).

Mr. Pagano has found a weakness. He doesn't need a pass rusher anymore. Pryor can't read the blitz fast enough and it's leading to negative plays. Four sacks in three drives. This is the turning point of the season, even if the Chargers didn't win the game.

1st and 10 at OAK 20 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short right to J.Olawale to OAK 31 for 11 yards (M.Gilchrist).
1st and 10 at OAK 31 (Shotgun) M.Reece up the middle to OAK 45 for 14 yards (M.Gilchrist).
1st and 10 at OAK 45 M.Reece left tackle to OAK 46 for 1 yard (Team).
2nd and 9 at OAK 46 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short left to J.Ford to SD 49 for 5 yards (D.Cox).
3rd and 4 at SD 49 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass short right to J.Stewart to SD 45 for 4 yards. PENALTY on OAK-M.Rivera, Offensive Pass Interference, 10 yards, enforced at SD 49 - No Play.
3rd and 14 at OAK 41 (Shotgun) T.Pryor pass deep right to B.Butler to SD 39 for 20 yards (D.Cox).
1st and 10 at SD 39 (Shotgun) M.Reece left guard to SD 35 for 4 yards (C.Liuget, M.Gilchrist).
2nd and 6 at SD 35 (Shotgun) T.Pryor right end to SD 33 for 2 yards (E.Weddle; M.Te'o).
3rd and 4 at SD 33 (Shotgun) T.Pryor right end to SD 32 for 1 yard (D.Butler).
4th and 3 at SD 32 S.Janikowski 50 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-J.Condo, Holder-M.King. 17 27
S.Janikowski kicks 72 yards from OAK 35 to SD -7. D.Woodhead, Touchback.

The Raiders counter with short passes, and it works. Pagano is fine, though. He can trade field goals all season because his offense will be scoring touchdowns. That's the way Ron Rivera operated, and it worked.

1st and 10 at OAK 20 M.Reece left guard to OAK 27 for 7 yards (R.Marshall, S.Lissemore).
Timeout #2 by SD at 01:40.
2nd and 3 at OAK 27 M.Reece left guard to OAK 28 for 1 yard (T.Keiser). Penalty on OAK-D.Moore, Illegal Formation, declined.
3rd and 2 at OAK 28 T.Pryor left end to OAK 22 for -6 yards (E.Weddle).
Timeout #3 by SD at 01:25.
4th and 8 at OAK 22 M.King punts 53 yards to SD 25, Center-J.Condo, out of bounds.

Unfortunately, after Rivers' late interception in the end zone, this game was all but over. Pagano got Rivers the ball back with over a minute left in the game, but the 10 point deficit was too much.

1st and 10 at IND 20 PENALTY on SD-C.Thomas, Encroachment, 5 yards, enforced at IND 20 - No Play.
1st and 5 at IND 25 A.Luck pass deep right to R.Wayne pushed ob at SD 40 for 35 yards (D.Cox).
1st and 10 at SD 40 A.Luck pass short left to T.Hilton to SD 29 for 11 yards (S.Wright).
1st and 10 at SD 29 (Shotgun) T.Richardson right tackle to SD 25 for 4 yards (T.Keiser).
2nd and 6 at SD 25 A.Luck pass short right to T.Hilton ran ob at SD 17 for 8 yards (D.Cox).
1st and 10 at SD 17 T.Richardson left guard to SD 13 for 4 yards (M.Te'o, M.Gilchrist).
2nd and 6 at SD 13 A.Luck scrambles left end to SD 11 for 2 yards (A.Gachkar).
3rd and 4 at SD 11 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass incomplete short right to R.Wayne.
4th and 4 at SD 11 A.Vinatieri 30 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-M.Overton, Holder-P.McAfee. 3 0
P.McAfee kicks 69 yards from IND 35 to SD -4. L.Hawkins to SD 20 for 24 yards (S.Brown, C.Johnson).

Colts game! This wasn't a great drive for the defense, Indianapolis should've been able to pick up 3rd and 4. I'm blaming this one on Pep Hamilton.

1st and 10 at IND 28 T.Richardson up the middle to IND 29 for 1 yard (J.Patrick, T.Keiser).
2nd and 9 at IND 29 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass short right to R.Wayne to IND 32 for 3 yards (D.Cox).
3rd and 6 at IND 32 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass short left to C.Fleener to IND 35 for 3 yards (E.Weddle) [J.Patrick].
4th and 3 at IND 35 P.McAfee punts 38 yards to SD 27, Center-M.Overton, fair catch by E.Royal.

A 3 yard pass on 3rd and 6? John Madden is spinning in his rotisserie tanning bed. I guess give credit to the Chargers defense for having the deep ball covered, but this seems like another bad decision by Hamilton and Andrew Luck.

1st and 10 at IND 7 D.Brown left tackle to IND 15 for 8 yards (K.Geathers).
2nd and 2 at IND 15 D.Brown up the middle to IND 17 for 2 yards (M.Te'o, E.Weddle).
1st and 10 at IND 17 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass incomplete short middle to T.Hilton.
2nd and 10 at IND 17 A.Luck pass short right to C.Fleener to IND 26 for 9 yards (M.Gilchrist).
3rd and 1 at IND 26 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass incomplete short left [C.Liuget].
4th and 1 at IND 26 P.McAfee punts 48 yards to SD 26, Center-M.Overton, fair catch by E.Royal.

This just seems like luck. Not Andrew Luck, but regular luck. Getting in this many "3rd and short" situations against the Colts should result in points for them. Not sure how much credit Pagano deserves here, except to say that he's confused the Colts coaches and QB to the point of mistakes.

1st and 10 at IND 20 D.Brown left end to IND 25 for 5 yards (J.Patrick).
2nd and 5 at IND 25 A.Luck pass short right to T.Richardson to IND 38 for 13 yards (S.Lissemore, A.Gachkar).
1st and 10 at IND 38 T.Richardson up the middle to IND 40 for 2 yards (S.Lissemore).
2nd and 8 at IND 40 A.Luck pass incomplete deep right to D.Heyward-Bey.
Timeout #1 by IND at 09:54.
3rd and 8 at IND 40 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass incomplete short left to T.Hilton.
4th and 8 at IND 40 P.McAfee punts 52 yards to SD 8, Center-M.Overton, out of bounds.

Another short pass on 3rd and 8. Did the Colts not watch tape of Marcus Gilchrist playing safety? Credit Sean Lissemore (who I really like) for putting the Colts in "2nd and long".

1st and 10 at IND 29 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass short right to T.Hilton pushed ob at IND 35 for 6 yards (L.English).
2nd and 4 at IND 35 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass short left to D.Heyward-Bey to IND 46 for 11 yards (T.Keiser).
1st and 10 at IND 46 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass short left to D.Brown to SD 49 for 5 yards (E.Weddle).
2nd and 5 at SD 49 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass short right to T.Hilton pushed ob at SD 39 for 10 yards (D.Cox).
1st and 10 at SD 39 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass incomplete short middle to C.Fleener.
2nd and 10 at SD 39 (Shotgun) A.Luck scrambles left end to SD 33 for 6 yards (R.Walker).
3rd and 4 at SD 33 A.Luck pass incomplete short right to C.Fleener.
4th and 4 at SD 33 A.Vinatieri 50 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-M.Overton, Holder-P.McAfee.

John Pagano must have had his defense in Cover 3 or something. That's the only explanation for why every Colts' pass was so short, right?

1st and 10 at IND 20 T.Richardson right end to IND 24 for 4 yards (M.Te'o, L.English).
2nd and 6 at IND 24 A.Luck scrambles up the middle to IND 29 for 5 yards (C.Liuget).
3rd and 1 at IND 29 T.Richardson right tackle to IND 41 for 12 yards (M.Gilchrist, B.Bird).
1st and 10 at IND 41 T.Richardson right tackle to IND 46 for 5 yards (C.Liuget).
2nd and 5 at IND 46 T.Richardson left end to 50 for 4 yards (T.Williams).
3rd and 1 at 50 T.Richardson right guard to SD 47 for 3 yards (T.Williams, S.Lissemore).
1st and 10 at SD 47 A.Luck scrambles up the middle to SD 41 for 6 yards (M.Te'o).
2nd and 4 at SD 41 T.Richardson left end to SD 40 for 1 yard (A.Gachkar).
3rd and 3 at SD 40 A.Luck pass incomplete short right to R.Wayne.
4th and 3 at SD 40 P.McAfee punts 30 yards to SD 10, Center-M.Overton, fair catch by K.Allen.

Pep Hamilton changes strategy. To start the second half, he's going with his running game. It almost works, but Gachkar stops the first down conversion on 2nd down and Hamilton-Luck combine for another short pass that does nothing on 3rd down.

1st and 10 at IND 20 A.Luck pass deep middle to R.Wayne to IND 43 for 23 yards (M.Gilchrist).
1st and 10 at IND 43 A.Luck pass deep right to R.Wayne to SD 36 for 21 yards (M.Te'o).
1st and 10 at SD 36 A.Luck pass incomplete deep left to T.Hilton [J.Patrick].
2nd and 10 at SD 36 (Shotgun) A.Luck sacked at SD 45 for -9 yards (K.Reyes).
3rd and 19 at SD 45 A.Luck pass short right to S.Havili to SD 33 for 12 yards (D.Cox).
4th and 7 at SD 33 A.Vinatieri 51 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-M.Overton, Holder-P.McAfee. 9 16
P.McAfee kicks 65 yards from IND 35 to end zone, Touchback.

The run game didn't work. The short-passing game didn't work. Time to start firing deep bombs. Kendall Reyes puts an end to that with his drive-killing sack on 2nd down, and probably saves the Chargers 4 points.

1st and 10 at IND 9 A.Luck pass incomplete short right to T.Richardson. PENALTY on IND-H.Thornton, Unnecessary Roughness, 4 yards, enforced at IND 9.
2nd and 14 at IND 5 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass to T.Hilton to IND 13 for 8 yards (J.Patrick).
3rd and 6 at IND 13 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass to C.Fleener to IND 17 for 4 yards (E.Weddle). SD-C.Liuget was injured during the play.
4th and 2 at IND 17 P.McAfee punts 35 yards to SD 48, Center-M.Overton, downed by IND-K.Sheppard.

More short passes. Hugh Thornton's stupid penalty killed this drive.

1st and 10 at IND 25 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass short right to R.Wayne pushed ob at IND 31 for 6 yards (E.Weddle).
2nd and 4 at IND 31 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass short middle to D.Brown to IND 45 for 14 yards (R.Walker).
1st and 10 at IND 45 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass incomplete short middle to C.Fleener (E.Weddle).
2nd and 10 at IND 45 (Shotgun) A.Luck pass deep left intended for R.Wayne INTERCEPTED by D.Cox at SD 32. D.Cox to SD 34 for 2 yards (C.Fleener).

Colts are down 10 and have the ball with 1:55 on the clock. This is prevent defense and it works once more.

1st and 10 at JAC 28 C.Henne pass incomplete deep middle to C.Shorts [K.Reyes].
2nd and 10 at JAC 28 (No Huddle) M.Jones-Drew up the middle to JAX 39 for 11 yards (A.Gachkar).
1st and 10 at JAC 39 (No Huddle, Shotgun) M.Jones-Drew up the middle to JAX 40 for 1 yard (L.English).
2nd and 9 at JAC 40 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass short middle to M.Lewis to SD 29 for 31 yards (M.Gilchrist).
1st and 10 at SD 29 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass short left to C.Shorts pushed ob at SD 24 for 5 yards (D.Cox).
2nd and 5 at SD 24 (No Huddle) C.Henne sacked at SD 33 for -9 yards (C.Liuget).
3rd and 14 at SD 33 (Shotgun) C.Henne sacked at SD 43 for -10 yards (J.Addae).
4th and 24 at SD 43 B.Anger punts 43 yards to end zone, Center-C.Tinker, Touchback.

First Jaguars drive of the game. Liuget killed it with his sack on 2nd and 5, which took Maurice Jones-Drew out of the equation on 3rd down.

1st and 10 at JAC 20 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass short left to C.Shorts pushed ob at JAX 28 for 8 yards (J.Patrick).
2nd and 2 at JAC 28 (Shotgun) M.Jones-Drew up the middle to JAX 29 for 1 yard (L.English).
3rd and 1 at JAC 29 M.Jones-Drew up the middle to JAX 31 for 2 yards (M.Te'o; L.English).
1st and 10 at JAC 31 D.Robinson left end to JAX 40 for 9 yards (E.Weddle).
2nd and 1 at JAC 40 (No Huddle) C.Henne pass incomplete short left to C.Shorts.
3rd and 1 at JAC 40 (Shotgun) C.Henne left guard to JAX 44 for 4 yards.
1st and 10 at JAC 44 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass short right to C.Shorts pushed ob at JAX 49 for 5 yards (A.Gachkar).
2nd and 5 at JAC 49 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass short left to J.Blackmon pushed ob at SD 45 for 6 yards (E.Weddle).
1st and 10 at SD 45 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass short left to M.Jones-Drew pushed ob at SD 38 for 7 yards (D.Cox).
2nd and 3 at SD 38 (No Huddle, Shotgun) M.Jones-Drew left end to SD 37 for 1 yard (T.Williams).
3rd and 2 at SD 37 (No Huddle) C.Henne up the middle to SD 36 for 1 yard (M.Te'o).
4th and 1 at SD 36 J.Todman up the middle to SD 28 for 8 yards (M.Gilchrist).
1st and 10 at SD 28 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne sacked at SD 35 for -7 yards (T.Keiser).
2nd and 17 at SD 35 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass short right to C.Shorts to SD 26 for 9 yards (A.Gachkar).
3rd and 8 at SD 26 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short right to J.Blackmon. PENALTY on SD-S.Wright, Defensive Pass Interference, 7 yards, enforced at SD 26 - No Play.
1st and 10 at SD 19 (Shotgun) PENALTY on JAX-C.Bradfield, False Start, 5 yards, enforced at SD 19 - No Play.
1st and 15 at SD 24 (Shotgun) M.Jones-Drew left guard to SD 17 for 7 yards (E.Weddle).
2nd and 8 at SD 17 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass short left to J.Blackmon to SD 12 for 5 yards (D.Cox).
3rd and 3 at SD 12 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short right to C.Shorts.
4th and 3 at SD 12 J.Scobee 30 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-C.Tinker, Holder-B.Anger. 14 3
J.Scobee kicks 65 yards from JAX 35 to end zone, Touchback.

Not a pretty drive for John Pagano's boys. This was around the time the Jags realized San Diego couldn't tackle and just kept throwing screens to get people running through tacklers downfield.

1st and 10 at JAC 20 (Shotgun) M.Jones-Drew up the middle to JAX 28 for 8 yards (A.Gachkar).
2nd and 2 at JAC 28 (Shotgun) M.Jones-Drew up the middle to JAX 31 for 3 yards (K.Reyes). PENALTY on JAX-W.Rackley, Personal Foul, 15 yards, enforced at JAX 31.
2nd and 14 at JAC 16 C.Henne pass short left to J.Blackmon to JAX 28 for 12 yards (T.Keiser).
3rd and 2 at JAC 28 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne left end to JAX 27 for -1 yards (M.Te'o).
4th and 3 at JAC 27 (Punt formation) B.Anger punts 54 yards to SD 19, Center-C.Tinker, out of bounds.

This drive was killed by Jaguars offensive lineman Will Rackley, and his stupid penalty.

1st and 10 at JAC 20 C.Henne pass short middle to M.Jones-Drew to JAX 32 for 12 yards (M.Te'o; A.Gachkar).
1st and 10 at JAC 32 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass deep middle to M.Brown pushed ob at SD 25 for 43 yards (M.Gilchrist).
1st and 10 at SD 25 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass short left to C.Shorts pushed ob at SD 20 for 5 yards (D.Cox).
2nd and 5 at SD 20 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass short right to C.Shorts to SD 8 for 12 yards (E.Weddle).
1st and 8 at SD 8 (Shotgun) M.Jones-Drew left guard to SD 5 for 3 yards (S.Lissemore).
2nd and 5 at SD 5 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short left to M.Lewis (M.Gilchrist).
3rd and 5 at SD 5 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short right to J.Blackmon.
Timeout #2 by JAX at 03:57.
4th and 5 at SD 5 (Field Goal formation) J.Scobee 23 yard field goal is GOOD, Center-C.Tinker, Holder-B.Anger.

Big plays equal points. Ron Rivera worked to eliminate big plays, and Pagano fails to do the same on this one. Mike Brown's 43 yard catch was the fault of scheme, not talent, as the slot receiver was left to be covered by Larry English.

1st and 10 at JAC 31 (Shotgun) C.Henne sacked at JAX 24 for -7 yards (T.Keiser).
2nd and 17 at JAC 24 (Shotgun) C.Henne scrambles up the middle to JAX 25 for 1 yard (L.English).
3rd and 16 at JAC 25 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass short left to M.Brown pushed ob at JAX 34 for 9 yards (J.Patrick).
4th and 7 at JAC 34 B.Anger punts 53 yards to SD 13, Center-C.Tinker. K.Allen to SD 24 for 11 yards (W.Ta'ufo'ou).

With a big lead, Pagano has begun the blitzing. Thomas Keiser beats a one-on-one and kills the drive with a sack on the first play.

1st and 10 at JAC 23 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass short left to M.Brown pushed ob at SD 45 for 32 yards (J.Patrick).
1st and 10 at SD 45 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass short right to C.Shorts ran ob at SD 31 for 14 yards.
1st and 10 at SD 31 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne sacked at SD 32 for -1 yards (L.English).
2nd and 11 at SD 32 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short left to M.Brown.
3rd and 11 at SD 32 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass short right to J.Forsett pushed ob at SD 22 for 10 yards (R.Walker).
4th and 1 at SD 22 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short left to C.Shorts (T.Keiser).

4th and 1 and the Jaguars pass the ball. This was when it was apparently the opposing offense was terrified of Corey Liuget. Not a great series for the defense.

1st and 10 at JAC 43 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short left to J.Blackmon (L.Guy).
2nd and 10 at JAC 43 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass short left to J.Blackmon to SD 45 for 12 yards (J.Addae).
1st and 10 at SD 45 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass deep middle intended for J.Blackmon INTERCEPTED by M.Gilchrist at SD 23. M.Gilchrist pushed ob at SD 49 for 26 yards.

A mistake, or miscommunication, turns into a turnover. It wasn't a forced turnover, but Pagano's defense deserves some credit for never being the ones to get the stupid penalty and for being ready when opportunities for turnovers present themselves.

1st and 10 at JAC 3 (Shotgun) J.Forsett up the middle to JAX 12 for 9 yards (J.Addae).
2nd and 1 at JAC 12 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short middle to M.Brown.
3rd and 1 at JAC 12 (No Huddle) J.Forsett up the middle to JAX 22 for 10 yards (T.Williams).
1st and 10 at JAC 22 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass deep left to C.Shorts pushed ob at JAX 44 for 22 yards (S.Wright).
1st and 10 at JAC 44 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass short right to J.Blackmon pushed ob at SD 44 for 12 yards (M.Gilchrist).
1st and 10 at SD 44 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short middle to C.Shorts. PENALTY on JAX-U.Nwaneri, Offensive Holding, 10 yards, enforced at SD 44 - No Play.
1st and 20 at JAC 46 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass short middle to J.Blackmon to SD 43 for 11 yards (E.Weddle).
2nd and 9 at SD 43 (No Huddle, Shotgun) C.Henne pass short right to M.Brown to SD 26 for 17 yards (J.Patrick).
1st and 10 at SD 26 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass short left to M.Brown pushed ob at SD 7 for 19 yards (J.Addae).
1st and 7 at SD 7 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short left to M.Lewis (D.Cox).
2nd and 7 at SD 7 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short right to M.Brown.
3rd and 7 at SD 7 (Shotgun) C.Henne pass incomplete short right to C.Shorts.
4th and 7 at SD 7 (Shotgun) C.Henne sacked at SD 16 for -9 yards (R.Walker).

The prevent defense works once more at the end of the game.

So, what have we learned?

John Pagano is a good coach, but he's also getting a bit lucky. He can shut down one-dimensional offenses, like the Raiders or Jaguars, and he can sometimes confuse the other ones (Cowboys, Colts) into trading FGs for TDs. He seems to be calling blitzes at the right times, too. More than anything, his defense avoids penalties and takes advantage of turnover opportunities.

It's hard to believe that the lack of a pass rusher and the poor tackling won't eventually catch up to them, but I said the same thing about Rivera's 2010 Chargers defense and they seemed just fine through most of the season. How will they fare against the Redskins and Broncos in the next two games?

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