Peyton Manning is inarguably one of the best quarterbacks of his generation and very much in the conversation as one of the greatest of all-time at his position. The way the cerebral assassin orchestrates the offense at the line of scrimmage is second to none and he really rivals a coach on the field in many ways. Given the way the Denver Broncos have performed on offense thus far this season by pacing the league with 42.9 points per game and 466.4 total yards per contest, the San Diego Chargers’ questionable secondary is in for quite the test this weekend.
Those average numbers from Denver are clear of the next closest teams in their respective categories by quite a substantial distance. San Diego’s secondary has been torched by opposing quarterbacks this season giving up the fifth-most passing yards on average, and their paltry four interceptions is tied for the second-lowest total in the NFL as well. Perhaps the most alarming stat of all, however, is the fact that opposing passers are completing a ridiculous 68.2 percent of their throws against the Chargers.
For Manning, who is completing an insane 71.2 percent of his passes thus far, this is almost an invitation to ravage the Bolts’ porous secondary. Another such invite may come on Derek Cox’s side of the field as San Diego’s highest-priced free agent acquisition from this past offseason was benched in Week 9 for his poor performance. He didn’t take the benching as insult, however, as the corner told U-T San Diego:
“As they say, life is 10 percent what happens to you and it’s 90 percent how you respond to what happens to you. I look at it as a challenge. This is what challenges do. You have them. You get through. They make you better. It’s key to maintain the proper outlook because it always gets better. It always gets better.”
Defensive coordinator John Pagano has been the lone constant with the Chargers over the past handful of years in guiding this defense to a consistent performance. There’s no doubt he will be looking to every guy in the secondary to make plays against Manning and the Broncos in order to keep the Bolts in the game. Even though he was the one responsible for pulling Cox from this past Sunday’s game, the coach knows that he needs his top corner to perform this week. Pagano said:
“We need him more than ever. We need him to play at a high level. We need all our players to play at the high level.”
From Shareece Wright to Eric Weddle and Marcus Gilchrist, this secondary needs each member to pull their weight against a pass-happy Broncos attack. Even though Denver will be without head coach John Fox after his heart surgery this past week, interim coach Jack Del Rio surely won’t pull any punches when it comes to airing it out.
This is a real sink or swim moment for the Chargers’ 2013 season. The secondary will certainly tell the tale for just how optimistic their playoff chances are heading into the stretch run.