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How did the 1st team defense perform?

Kyle breaks down how the starters on defense performed against the Cardinals.

Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

John Pagano is doing his best to win his harshest critics(me) over after the other night. Tons of movement up front. Twists, stunts, blitzes. There was a lot going on. I know there were quite a few of you who didn't get the chance to watch the game, so I'll go over the 1st team defensive snaps and let you know what I saw, similar to last preseason.

What You'll See

I'll give you the down and distance, which yard-line the ball is placed on, what formations the offense and defense were in, the result of the play, and a short analysis of what happened during the play.

The offensive formations are denoted by [# of backs] [# of tight ends]

The defensive formations are denoted by [# of DL] [# of LBs] and [# of DBs if >4]

First Series

1st and 10; AZ 19; O-Form 11; D-Form 2-4-5; Carson Palmer pass incomplete

Pagano gets creative on the 1st snap, sending 6. Donald Butler blitzes up the A-gap, Manti Te'o blitzes off the edge. Melvin Ingram comes free off of a stunt up the middle for a QB hit and forces Palmer to fade away on his throw. Some scrub safety with an extraordinary long beard jumps the throw and breaks it up. A really, really well designed play all around.

2nd and 10; AZ 19; O-Form 12; D-Form Base 3-4; Ellington left tackle for 11 yards

Arizona runs a sweep to the left and I thought Jerry Attaochu did a nice job of forcing the run back inside. Thought Manti Te'o did a good job of getting downhill and reading the play. The problem here is Sean Lissemore doesn't get much of the center and for whatever reason number 56 decides to go under the block leaving a gaping hole with nobody to fill the running lane. Gain of 11.

1st and 10; AZ 30; O-Form 22; D-Form 3-4; Ellington up the middle for 1 yard

Ryan Carrethers sheds the centers' block, Te'o fills aggressively, which in turn causes Ellington to cut back. Jimmy Wilson is in position to make the tackle but whiffs. No harm done here as Ellington falls right into Ingram's lap for a minimal gain.

2nd and 9; AZ 31; O-Form 10; D-Form 2-3-6;  Palmer incomplete to Ellington

Not much to see here. San Diego is in a Cover 1 defense, playing man coverage underneath with Te'o taking away anything over the middle and Eric Weddle deep. No pass rush but all the receivers were well covered. Miscommunication between Palmer and Ellington leads to an incomplete pass.

3rd and 9; AZ 31; O-Form 10; D-Form 2-3-6; Palmer sacked by Ingram

Pagano blitzes Te'o up the middle to rush 5, playing Cover 1 behind the blitz with Weddle as the robber and Jahleel Addae deep. There wasn't much doing with the interior pass rush but woooo boy the fellas on the outside came with the pressure. Attaochu beats the left tackle with a pure speed rush, forcing Palmer to climb the pocket. Melvin Freeney inishes the play with a sack.

That's a hell of a spin move and close. I don't want to do any disservice to Attaochu here, very good rush for him as well.

2nd Series

1st and 10; AZ 20; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4; Palmer sacked by Donald Butler

Another solid design here by Pagano showing a zone blitz. When there's a free rusher it's usually a hat tip to the coordinator. Ingram twists with Kendall Reyes and the tackle doesn't account for Butler coming free on a delayed blitz off the edge. Sack.

2nd and 18; AZ 12; O-Form 11; D-Form 2-4-5; Palmer pass deep left for 57 yards

Simple cover 3 and rush four in front. Zero pass rush. Whatever, as Richard Crawford is getting beat deep by rookie J.J. Nelson, who runs a 4.28 40 for a bomb. Crawford was a good step and a half behind him. You know who wouldn't get beat deep here? Jason Verrett. Moving on.

1st and 10; SD 31; O-Form 11; D-Form 2-4-5; Palmer pass incomplete

A simple "now" throw that teams are doing nowadays when the corner is playing off. Errant pass by Palmer

2nd and 10; SD 31; O-Form 12; D-Form 3-4; Palmer complete to Jo. Brown for 14 yards.

Late motion leaves an empty backfield and bumps Ingram out in coverage. Butler gets caught carrying the TE too far upfield leaving a vacancy over the middle of the field for a short crossing route. Was the perfect route combination for the coverage the Chargers were in.

1st and 10; SD 17; O-Form 11; D-Form 2-4-5; Palmer complete for 17 yard TD

Not much of a pass rush here, but the problem is on the backend. They hi-low'd the safety Wilson and he took the bait and jumped on the shorter route, leaving the deep post open for a TD. This is on Crawford and Wilson. Wilson needs to be "deeper than the deepest" as they say and Crawford needs to acknowledge that he has no other threat so he should run with the post. Technically since it was a Cover 3 it goes on Wilson.

3rd Series

1st and 10; AZ 23; O-Form 11; D-Form 2-4-5; David Johnson right end for 2 yards

Ingram beats his man. Reyes stacks and sheds(!!). Te'o avoids the guard and makes the stop. This is how we football. Excellent play by all 3.

2nd and 10; AZ 25; O-Form 13; D-Form 3-4; Johnson rushes left for 3 yards

Kyle Baemanuel squeezes down and forces the run to bounce wide. Although he misses the tackle after that, he forces Johnson to cut back to the defense where there are a handful of white jerseys to finish the play. Good pursuit by Ricardo Mathews here as he was the one who made the tackle.

3rd and 5; AZ 28; O-Form 10; D-Form 2-3-6; Palmer pass incomplete

Empty backfield. Chargers playing man coverage across the board with Darrell Stuckey and Addae playing as the 2 deep safeties. Wilson is beat on an out route for a would-be 1st down but, man, Addae reads the route and jumps on it, taking the receivers knees out and forcing a drop.

4th Series

1st and 10; AZ 46; O-Form 12; D-Form 3-4; Johnson up the middle for 13 yards

Arizona runs a counter and Ingram does a good job of attacking the pulling lineman. Mathews spins off of his block and misses the tackle at about 2 yards depth. If he makes the tackle, like he should, everything is fine. It certainly doesn't help that the "free" linebacker, Mr. Butler, is being blocked 10 yards downfield.

1st and 10; SD 41; O-Form 12; D-Form 3-4; Johnson up the middle for 6 yards

Ironically enough, the Chargers blitzed up the middle and that still wasn't enough. The center cut Te'o and wiped him out and Carrethers was washed out of the play, creating a pretty good size hole to run through.

2nd and 4; SD 35; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4; Drew Stanton incomplete to Ellington

Cardinals come out with a little wrinkle, with Ellington split out as a receiver, matched up 1-on-1 with Addae. Ellington runs a 5-step slant and Addae is right in position to break up the pass. Did he get away with DPI? Probably. They didn't call it, though.


Addae was in good enough position where he probably didn't even need that left arm to be there but that's what they teach you in order to secure the tackle. Addae looked very aware all night in coverage. Was great to see.

3rd and 4; SD 35; O-Form 11; D-Form 2-4-5; Stanton incomplete to Ellington

Attaochu comes free off of the edge after a delayed Butler blitz up the middle. Stanton hangs in there with a nice throw to the flat that goes off Ellington's hands after Wilson breaks on the throw and disrupts the catch. I could get used to this kind of pressure.

4th and 4; SD 35; O-Form 11; D-Form 3-3-5; Stanton complete to Larry Fitzgerald for 5 yards

Stacked behind the 3 lineman, Te'o and Ingram blitz off the right side, to no avail. Brandon Flowers is a little late reacting to the slant and Addae is a little late working back across the field for a completion. I know both guys wish they could have this one back.

1st and 10; SD 30; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4; Stanton pass to S. Taylor for 11 yards

More games up front as Butler rushes up the B-gap and Emanuel loops around and does a good job of attacking the fullback, then beating him with a swim move to close on the QB. That was the good.

The not so good is Ingram has the flats and doesn't recognize the RB until it's too late, can't recover fast enough, gives up the 1st down.

1st and 10; SD 19; O-Form 12; D-Form 3-4; Johnson runs for 3 yards

Cardinals run inside zone and Fitzgerald cracks down to block. Brandon Flowers does a great job of replacing Fitzgerald and gets in the backfield, however he misses the tackle. Mitch Unrein and Emanuel are in pursuit and actually over-pursue, each missing the tackle. After all that, Butler eventually brings Johnson down.

2nd and 7; SD 16; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4; Stanton Pass to Jo. Brown for 8 yards

An underneath throw to Brown on a curl route and neither Flowers nor Kavell Conner could break down and make the tackle, allowing Brown to get upfield for a 1st down. 5-step drop here with a not so great pass rush.

1st and 10; SD 23; O-Form 12; D-Form 2-4-5; Stanton pass to Johnson for 6 yards

After a personal foul on Arizona, the Cardinals split out the running back and there's an empty backfield. The Chargers show blitz up the middle with Conner, then Ingram drops in coverage off the edge and the linebacker who was probably a long snapper in a past life blitzes instead. Stanton hits Johnson on a quick slant. Pagano had the perfect play call on. In theory, as Conner drops back he recognizes it will be a quick throw and jumps the route for an interception. Just needs to recognize the play a hair quicker.

2nd and 4; SD 17; O-Form 21; D-Form 2-4-5; Johnson sweep right for 3 yards

Larry Fitzgerald swallows Wilson at the line, allowing Johnson to get outside. Patrick Robinson fills about as aggressive as you can ask for, just missing the tackle in the backfield. Would like to see him come a little more under control and he likely makes the stop. Long snapper number 48 reaps the benefits of Johnson cutting back for a gain of 3.

3rd and 1; SD 14; O-Form 21; D-Form 3-4; R. Hughes rushes for 2 yards

A simple fullback dive and everyone except Unrein gets moved a good 2 yards off of the ball. Luckily, Unrein is able to trip up Hughes and the gain is only 2 yards.

1st and 10; SD 12; O-Form 12; D-Form 3-4; Ingram sack for -7 yards

Wheewwwwww, that jump.

2nd and 17; SD 19; O-Form 11; D-Form 2-4-5; Johnson rushes for 9 yards

Arizona runs an outside zone to the right, Emanuel shows great hand usage and beats the right tackle instantaneously. The problem is for the 3rd time on the night, he missed the tackle in the backfield. You'd like to see him stay on his feet and run the the running back instead of diving and leaving himself susceptible. That's the difference between 3 tackles for loss tonight and 3 missed tackles. Conner runs under a block, runs down Johnson and has a chance at the sideline but takes a nasty stiff arm and misses.

3rd and 7; SD 10; O-Form 11; D-Form 2-4-5; Stanton pass incomplete

Stanton has time and tries to hit the tight end on an out-breaking route in the end zone. Stanton floats it and Craig Mager is in perfect position to break up the pass. He actually misses the deflection but certainly affects the tight ends' ability to haul it in.

That was it for the starters. Look for more next week against the Seahawks.