Even though much of the attention leading up to the Monday night showdown with the Denver Broncos for the San Diego Chargers has focused on their dominance over Peyton Manning in recent memory, the Bolts aren’t living in the past. Instead, the Chargers are focused on a divisional battle with a familiar foe that just happens to have a new quarterback under center. This approach will serve them well as they prepare for an intense battle that could propel them into a two-game divisional lead with a victory.
While this isn’t your typical Manning versus the Chargers match-up, there is still that feeling of déjà vu when number 18 comes to town. The man himself tells people to calm down and realize that this won’t be a game from seasons past as Manning said: “Once again, you’re talking different times. I’m on a different team now. It’s obviously different circumstances. Those were Colts vs. Chargers games. This is a division game now. I have an appreciation of what a division rivalry means. I’m not familiar with this division rivalry. These two teams have a long history playing twice a year. I know it’s an important game within the division. It’s going to be a tough test for us going against their defense.”
If Manning is approaching this game with a new, fresh mindset, you better believe the Bolts are doing the same. According to linebacker Shaun Phillips: “We try not to think about the past. is on a new football team. We are going to go out there and stick with our game plan — try to stop the run first and try to get pressure on the QB. As long as we can continue to do that to the last game, we should be okay.”
He was echoed by another veteran on the defense, cornerback Quentin Jammer who added: “We are not even talking about what we have done in the past. It’s a new game plan and we are going to try to go out there and execute.”
The man responsible for that new game plan has been around for all of the club’s success against Manning in the past in first year defensive coordinator John Pagano. He was a linebacker coach back in those days, but he remembers how to scheme against the man calling the shots for the other side as he said: “(Manning) does such a great job of reading defenses. You try to give him as many looks as possible. You try to disguise as much as possible.”
You better believe that the Bolts are going to hide their defensive looks for as long as possible in this game. Movement around the line or scrimmage to confuse Manning, standing up players who wouldn’t normally stand up, or lining players up with their hands in the dirt who wouldn’t normally do so is key to keeping him off balance. With as much experience as the Chargers have in this area, it may not be the same Manning led team, but it is still the same Manning.
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