After a disappointing and embarrassing loss to the Falcons at home, the San Diego Chargers needed to bounce back in a big way. A road division win was everything they wanted after visiting the Chiefs, and they got it and more thanks to an opportunistic defense and unforgiving mindset. Six turnovers and two sacks along with at least 10 hits and hurries kept Matt Cassel on edge the first three quarters and gave the Chargers 17 points by giving the ball back to Philip Rivers and company. Let's take a look at how the defense graded this week.
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Figure 1-Here you can see Donald Butler take a blocker who should have helped block Liuget, who gets pressure.
Figure 2-Classic Donald Butler. See lane, attack lane.
Figure 3-Ingram throws his hands up, as does Shaun Phillips sometimes. Wish it happened here.
Figure 4-Either Liuget is so beastly that he demands this much attention, or the KC line sucked here.
Run defense. Aside from that Chris Johnson-like flashback Jamaal Charles gave the defense, there wasn't much going for the Chiefs in the running game. Aubrayo Franklin continues to dominate linemen, Corey Liuget is still a monster run stopper, and a surprise showing from Vaughn Martin as well. He did very good in run defense in the first half and I really hope he can be consistent, or even somewhere in between if he was just having a good day.
Donald Butler! Back in the good section where he belongs. He was awesome blitzing in the second half, and a force against the run, as usual. I'm glad John Pagano got my e-mail last year* about Butler being capable of playing all three downs.
Turnovers! I was thrilled to see players going for strips. Fumbles are underrated. I hope this trend continues throughout the season as well. Let's give an imaginary high five to John Pagano for his playcalling. Blitzing nearly 40% of the time is a real test of faith in your pass rush and coverage. It's worked for many teams, and as long as the players execute, you should continue to see players coming from all angles at the quarterback.
Antwaan Barnes. It seems every week, someone doesn't show up to play. Outside of one play in run defense, Barnes didn't stand out at all. He was invisible in the pass rush. Saints LT Jermon Bushrod struggles against rushers like Barnes, so it would be great if this was just an off week for him and he can come back like he usually does on Sunday night football.
Jarret Johnson and Kendall Reyes still haven't played to their week one level. Reyes was okay against the run but provided no pass rush outside of one play. Johnson was also inconsistent against the run and rushing. Maybe he should only play 1st down? Can't say for sure. By the bye week we should know if he's worth his weight.
I'm loving John Pagano's formations. If you didn't know, the formation is listed in the fourth column on the spreadsheet. Most of the time, the team is in a 3-4, or 34. 3rd and some passing downs is usually 24 or 14, which is one of my favorites, because the offense has no clue who's rushing except for the one defensive lineman. This week the oddball was the 23 early in the 4th quarter when there were 3 safeties and 3 defensivebacks. Bigby was lined up as a linebacker over the strong side with Lynch and Weddle deep.
Questions about Corey Liuget being a good fit for the 3-4 should stop now. He might only be 90% of the ideal size for a 3-4 end but size isn't everything (i.e. Igor Olshansky). So far this year he's shown to be strong enough to be disruptive against the run and athletic enough to rush the quarterback on passing downs. He's given tackles and guards alike a hard time so clearly he can play all over the line. Melvin Ingram has two pass deflections this year and I've seen a few other players go for a hit on the QB when they could be putting their hands up and deflecting a pass. I'd like to see that more often since two or three times this year I've seen a player who could do it and chose to go for a hit, only to have the pass either pick up a first down or touchdown. Also, you may notice on my grading spreadsheet the highlights are a shameless ripoff. I think it's just for contrast to help you distinguish the 'bolts' from the 'dolts'. Last week, very few of you participated in the "will Jamaal Charles hit 100 yards" poll. Redeem yourselves. And leave your questions and comments below.