A difficulty defending mobile quarterbacks has always been an issue for the San Diego Chargers. Already this season the Bolts handled Michael Vick pretty well one week only to be burned multiple times by Jake Locker in the following game. What it all comes down to is forcing a quarterback who relies on his legs into uncomfortable situations, and for this weekend’s match-up with the Oakland Raiders and Terrelle Pryor, that means making the young gun play from the pocket.
Now obviously this is easier said than done, but what the Chargers have to focus on is not losing their lanes and not getting too deep into the backfield where the defender is at an immediate disadvantage. Once Pryor has guys in the trailing position it is going to be an uphill battle. San Diego needs to make sure they are rushing to a spot rather than the typical pursuit of the quarterback himself.
This type of adjustment can be difficult because defenders are inherently trained to go after the guy with the football. With Pryor and others like him the assignment is much more complicated than that.
Oakland doesn’t really have many offensive weapons, but guys like Denarius Moore and Marcel Reece are plenty dangerous when Pryor gets the ball into their hands. Forcing him to deliver on-target throws on a regular basis will be their only chance to slow down this Raiders attack as Pryor has proven unreliable with his accuracy so far in his career.
While losing a guy like Dwight Freeney to injury as the Chargers did earlier in the week is a big blow overall to the defense, his loss might actually be advantageous against Oakland. Freeney’s success is predicated on getting up-field and forcing quarterbacks to step up in the pocket or run at times. Against a guy like Pryor, that really isn’t the type of thing the Bolts want to encourage. Freeney’s replacement in Larry English and the veteran Jarret Johnson on the other side are much better suited to staying in their lanes and rushing to a spot rather than relentless pursuit to the quarterback.
Obviously the guys up front like Kendall Reyes and Corey Liuget will be vital in the effort to keep Pryor in the pocket as well. These two will also be critical in slowing down the Oakland running game which can be a staple for the offense when it’s clicking. In a game where gap integrity and assignment football will be of the utmost concern, the Chargers will need to stick to their gameplan and play within defensive coordinator John Pagano’s scheme at all times. Freelancing will definitely be frowned upon defensively this week.