In a league where passing is king, having a secondary with personnel turmoil is not exactly ideal. Unfortunately that is the exact predicament facing the San Diego Chargers as they head toward the final handful of games that will decide their postseason fate with a back third of the defense that has been ravaged by opposing passers all season long. So how can they fix these issues that have plagued them all season long in just a week’s time before their next tilt?
Head coach Mike McCoy officially opened up each and every spot in the team’s secondary for the taking this week in practice as the coach told ESPN:
“We’re going to let the guys compete this week, and let them go. We’re going to let the DBs compete this week, and come this week we’ll find out what we think is the best combination for us, like any position on our football team.”
And that really is the only way to get the best performance out on the field on a week-to-week basis. Instead of focusing on the lucrative contract that the team signed struggling cornerback Derek Cox to in the offseason, it’s time the Bolts find the best performer at this current moment and plug him into the lineup. The big free agent addition from this past offseason has already been benched three times in the past four weeks, but the issues in coverage have persisted in a secondary with holes everywhere.
It’s not just busted coverage that has led to the Bolts having the 27th ranked pass defense in the NFL either. Their 276 passing yards allowed per contest were certainly worsened by the team’s propensity for taking crucial penalties to keep drives alive. San Diego was flagged for five defensive penalties against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday which included four pass interference calls and one defensive holding. These types of calls mandate an automatic first down which bails out an opposing offense and gives them new life even though they didn’t even pick up a single yard. Self-inflicted wound like this will ultimately bleed the Bolts to death down the stretch if they are unable to find the proper tourniquet.
With just four interceptions on the year, the Chargers really haven’t had much worth celebrating in pass coverage this season. The team has used a wide variety of personnel from the starters in Cox, Shareece Wright, Eric Weddle, and Marcus Gilchrist to reserves Johnny Patrick, Richard Marshall, Crezdon Butler, Brandon Taylor and Jahleel Addae. Each has shown flashes of positive potential, but each player has had their own individual struggles at times as well.
What this message from McCoy means at the beginning of the week of practice is that no job is safe on this roster. Regardless of whether or not this team ultimately makes the playoffs, coach McCoy and general manager Tom Telesco are looking to find the best players on this roster so that they know who to build around and who to discard moving forward. Something tells me a big part of what takes place in the secondary over the final five weeks of the season will have a significant impact on those decisions.