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Defensive Analysis: San Diego Chose to Lose to the Denver Broncos, Again

Peyton Manning had his second worst game of the season when his team hosted the Chargers. Find out why as we look into the defense and their blitz happy gameplan.

This is Gilchrist tackling, not Brandon Taylor.
This is Gilchrist tackling, not Brandon Taylor.
Justin Edmonds

The Chargers blitzed on 21 of Peyton Manning's 40 dropbacks. That's a 52.5% blitz rate. Manning took 2 sacks on those blitzes and hurried his throws due to being pressured about 8 times on all those blitzes. Compare that to the last time these two teams played where Manning was blitzed just 14 times and pressured just 4 times. Logic will tell you that execution was better, which it clearly was, and that blitzing more was a good thing. But also congratulate defensive coordinator John Pagano for finally hearing my cries. Vaughn Martin played 12 snaps. The guy I've been clamoring for to replace him, rookie Kendall Reyes, played 42. He sacked Manning twice, though the first one was thanks to some messy blocking. On that same replacement note, Melvin Ingram also got to play over 40 snaps, though going up against an All Pro Left tackle he only managed to get pressure on 3 occasions. Still an improvement over Jarret Johnson. Will this gameplan keep up? Hopefully. Here's the grading for the game.

1st Half 51 54 56 58 71 91 92 93 94 95 96 98
Run Average 0.0 0.50 0.17 0.10 0.0 0.0 0.50 0.0 .50 .07 0.0 na
Pass Average 0.0 0.22 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.11 0.07 0.25 0.15 0.0 0.07 na

2nd Half 51 54 56 58 71 91 92 93 94 95 96 98
Run Average 0.50 0.0 1.0 0.50 0.50 0.50 na 0.67 0.50 0.17 0.50 na
Pass Average 0.25 0.07 0.0 0.0 0.29 0.50 na 0.13 0.06 0.36 0.0 0.0

Click here for the full analysis

Gif breakdown of the week:


The Good

Let me give some props to Marcus Gilchrist. Yes, he's a barely average defensive back in coverage, but as a blitzer, he's fun. Two batted passes and two times pressuring Manning? Maybe he too should get some snaps at Vaughn Martin's spot. Just kidding. Or am I?

Run Defense was good. How, you say? After getting run on worse than any game all year? Well, the Chargers were in the Nickel defense the whole game. Just 4 snaps out of the 34. The first and last two snaps of the second half. Considering it was 5 offensive linemen and a TE vs just 2 defensive ends and 4 linebackers, I think they did pretty good. Cam Thomas filled in admirably for Aubrayo Franklin. He didn't play that well in the first half, but picked it up in the second half. He also provides more pass rush than Franklin despite not getting sacks. Kendall Reyes had to have proven he should start over Martin. Maybe that was the "change" Shaun Phillips tweeted about. Speaking of...

The Bad

Shaun Phillips. "But wait!" you cry out, "He got that safety!". Yes. Yes he did. Against a third string tight end blocking him. But tell me, what did he do the other 27 times he rushed Manning? Or in run defense? If you said, "Nothing", you are correct. He got pressure one other time. Wow. He also failed to set the edge against the run and gave up two big gains on the ground. Then there's that stupid 5 yard penalty before Decker's touchdown. Sorry, but 50 unsuccessful plays do not make up for one good one. Had he gotten a sack at some other point or batted a pass, and did it consistently week in and week out, then he'd be in the "good" paragraph up there. Now here's a thought: Atari Bigby was replaced a few times with Corey Lynch. This should be a regular occurrence in the red zone or on 3rd down passing situations. Bigby struggles a lot in coverage and is a liability.

Closing thoughts

I'm glad Vaughn Martin was relegated to just a few snaps. In the last two seasons he's proved himself incapable of being a starter and Kendall Reyes may be what this team needs at DE. Unfortunately, that leaves a weakness against the run on the defensive left side, as Shaun Phillips has struggled with that lately. Cam Thomas looks versatile enough to play at any position on the line and maybe he can help with that, but for now, I'm left wondering why the Broncos ran to the left so often where the Chargers are strongest. The Ravens are next. They look like they could struggle against a good defense. Could it be a repeat of last year? Hope so. Season's not over. Yet. Leave your questions and comments (and insults) below.