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Chargers @ Jets: Six Defensive Observations

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at New York Jets Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

I get it; no one is overjoyed with a 14-7 win over the lowly Jets. The Los Angeles Chargers were sluggish, sloppy and didn’t execute well for most of the game, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t some positives to be taken from a key road victory. And, now that we’ve all had time to digest what we watched, this seems like as good a time as any to talk about some of the details from the game that could carry over into Sunday’s tilt with the Oakland Raiders of Las Vegas.

The truth is, there were some positive performances on both sides of the ball; a couple of which came from somewhat unlikely contributors. We’ve already discussed the offensive side of the ball, so let’s take a look at some of my defensive observations from Sunday’s game…

Korey Toomer was the best linebacker on the field. He was decisive, played fast and generally finished when he found himself in position to do so, recording seven tackles, a sack, two and a half tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a quarterback hit in his limited action. I’m not sure why Hayes Pullard received 19 more snaps than Korey, but that needs to change with a quickness.

Toomer’s forced fumble may have saved the game. Granted, it came midway through the second quarter with the Chargers leading 7-0, but the Jets had just gashed the Chargers for a 41-yard run and were positioned with a first-and-ten at the LA 20-yard line. The defense was on its heels and the fumble clearly changed the momentum of the game.

I thought Isaac Rochell quietly had a very solid debut. He didn’t put up monster numbers, but he played both end and tackle, recorded his first NFL sack, batted a ball at the line of scrimmage, and made a couple hustle plays versus the run. I thought Isaac used his hands well, looked good as an interior rusher and played with an impressive motor. Not a bad debut.

One thing that really stood out on tape was the dirty work the Chargers got from Joey Bosa and Darius Philon, particularly against the run. Not only were they disruptive, they gave max effort on every snap and repeatedly fought their way up and down the line of scrimmage to cut down running plays before they developed. Their efforts kept Toomer and Hayes Pullard clean and allowed them to come downhill and make plays.

The final rushing stats for the Jets were a little misleading. Bilal Powell and Matt Forte carried the ball a combined 27 times for 164 yards, but 119 of those yards came on three plays. Granted, those three plays weren’t pretty, but not all of them were the result of bad defense. I thought the touchdown run was simply a well-timed call against a dime defensive package, while the other two were the result of Damian Square trying to do a little too much and Kyle Emanuel flat out blowing his assignment, respectively. By contrast, the Jets accumulated 45 yards on their other 24 carries (excluding Bryce Petty’s scrambles).

Thank God for Bryce Petty. The Chargers narrowly survived a handful of badly blown coverage assignments throughout the game, each of which ended with the Jets leaving big yards and, in some cases, points on the field because Bryce Petty simply wasn’t capable of making the throws. For their part, the Chargers were hurt by a worrisome combination of schematic shortcomings (Hayes Pullard at nickel and dime linebacker) and inexplicable mental lapses. They won’t survive those same mistakes against the Raiders, which means Gus has his work cut out for him.

Well, there you have it; those are my defensive observations from Sunday’s game in New York. While I certainly thought there were some positives to be taken away from the defensive performance, I don’t think the score was an accurate reflection of how the defense played as a whole. This group has a number of things to correct heading into the Raiders game if they want to keep their playoff hopes alive with a win.

What were your takeaways from the game? Share them with me in the comments section below…