The changeover from an offensive juggernaut to a defensive stalwart came quickly and unexpectedly for the San Diego Chargers. Once a team known for its potent offense and its ability to put points on the board in a hurry the Bolts are now more associated with a stout defense than their ability to score.
And that is going to be a real plus heading into the 2013 season given all of the team’s injuries on offense.
Defensive coordinator John Pagano had his unit in the top-10 of the NFL last season, and the team took steps in terms of personnel to only further strengthen that standing in the upcoming season. Additions like Dwight Freeney and Derek Cox will certainly keep the Bolts among the defensive elites this season. The younger of the two newcomers in Cox told the team website:
“I’m impressed with the whole defensive side of the ball. As a defensive back, when your teammates can affect the quarterback with a rush and work together with our coverage, it puts the defense in position to make plays, get our hands on balls, force turnovers and get the ball back to our offense. I am just excited about seeing us reach our potential, which I think we will.”
Players that make up the defensive core of this club like safety Eric Weddle, linebacker Donald Butler, and defensive end Corey Liuget are all homegrown products who have taken their games to new heights in recent years. The team hopes to have landed another future core member of the defense in rookie linebacker Manti Te’o who has been battling an injury of his own as he’s been in a walking boot for the past week and not on the practice field. There are still big expectations for the rookie at the inside linebacker spot, and he is really excited about the defense’s potential as well as he said:
“We have a lot of talent on this defense and we have the potential to be really, really good. That’s what we’re working toward. Just looking at a guy like Dwight Freeney, he was a guy I watched growing up. You can’t miss him. He makes plays every week, and having a guy like him raises everyone’s game.”
And everyone’s game is going to have to be raised given the volume of injuries that have hit the Chargers already this season. With Danario Alexander out for the year and Malcom Floyd along with Eddie Royal uncertain as to when they will be able to return, the Chargers’ defense is going to have to bring home the bacon for this team in 2013. Philip Rivers and the offense will still be able to hold their own, but expecting them to win shootouts is very unlikely given the sheer number of injuries already impacting the offense.
This defense appears up to the task of carrying the team to victories in the upcoming season with a nice mixture of youth and experience. Combine that with Pagano’s defensive mind and the Chargers should again be one of the league’s top defensive squads. And that’s a good thing because they are going to be needed in order to get wins this coming season.