The San Diego Chargers’ secondary has been ripe for the taking pretty much all season long for opposing quarterbacks. From the up and down play by the starting cornerbacks to the lack of quality depth behind them, San Diego has been fully exposed all season long. But the best way to mask a deficiency in the secondary has always been to put the opposing quarterback under pressure, and on Sunday against the Cincinnati Bengals that’s exactly what the Bolts have to do in this critical AFC battle.
Getting sacks has been easier said than done for San Diego this season with a depleted depth chart at outside linebacker and no real standouts pass rushers to speak of, but recently they have gotten unexpected contributions from rookie Tourek Williams and vagabond Thomas Keiser as well. And that’s definitely a good thing given the fact that the last man standing, veteran Jarret Johnson, has recently been given the “out indefinitely” designation with a hand injury that has him in a cast.
Injuries have robbed the Bolts of Melvin Ingram’s presence all season after a torn ACL in May minicamp. After that the Chargers signed Dwight Freeney to bolster their pass rush, but a torn quad ended his campaign prematurely. Even perennial underachiever Larry English added to his laundry list of injury episodes with a biceps injury ending his 2013 season and potentially his career with the team.
Cincinnati does have a pretty decent offensive line which has allowed just 26 sacks on the season for the 8th fewest in the NFL to date. Despite the amazing protection they have provided quarterback for Andy Dalton, however, he hasn’t been able to do much throwing the pigskin. While A.J. Green remains a constant threat on the outside even his numbers are lacking a bit this season thanks to Dalton’s inconsistency.
So if there is a silver lining to this contest for the sorry San Diego secondary it’s that Dalton hasn’t exactly been spot on this season. In fact his 15 interceptions are the third-highest total in the entire league coming into this week. This could be the perfect opportunity for the Chargers to finally add to their paltry six interceptions as a defense on the year which is coincidentally the third-least in the league.
Whether or not the Chargers can get home for the sack on Dalton or force turnovers is really irrelevant if they can ground the Bengals’ aerial attack on Sunday and save face for their much maligned secondary. This defense has to find a way to give the offense some help so it won’t take points galore each and every week to win games. Getting in Dalton’s face and forcing him to continue his erratic ways under center would be a great formula to accomplish just that on Sunday.