Defense was supposed to be what would carry the San Diego Chargers this season. A unit with several young studs in the making along with some veteran experience sprinkled in figured to come into its own in 2013 and really carry the Bolts to whatever record they were going to earn. Well, it turns out that defense is carrying the team to the record it’s going to earn, but it isn’t a good one.
Statistics can only tell you so much, but these speak volumes about the ineptitude on the San Diego defense. The Bolts allow 117.8 yards per game on the ground (22nd in the NFL), 268.8 YPG through the air (28th), and 386.6 total yards (29th).
It’s really hard to believe this is the same unit under the same defensive coordinator in John Pagano who coached them up to be the ninth best defense in terms of total yards a year ago (326.4), 18th against the pass (230.1), and sixth best against the run (96.4). While they have regressed across the board statistically, what was most alarming against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 13 was clearly the awful run defense.
For a front seven that has only racked up 29 sacks this season you would think the Chargers have a pretty decent run stop to counteract that. On the contrary, actually, as the Bengals totally exposed the team’s lack of toughness up front and gashed the Bolts for 164 yards on the ground. The Bolts’ run stoppers actually came up the smallest when it mattered most and the game was on the line in the closing drive. They allowed the Bengals to run the ball with ease and bleed the remaining four and a half minutes off of the clock which ultimately culminated in even more demoralizing kneel downs.
Tackling has been an issue this season, but toughness was never something that came into question. Unfortunately the Bengals’ duo of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard brought to light the ugly side of the San Diego defense. “The Law Firm” rolled up 92 yards on 20 carries while the shifty rookie Bernard had 57 yards of his own on 14 totes. Both averaged over four yards per carry which basically means the Bengals could have run the ball every single play and continued to get first downs as well as touchdowns.
Guys like Corey Liuget, Kendall Reyes, and Cam Thomas were supposed to be the rock of the San Diego defense this season, but some serious reassessment needs to be done during the offseason to find out if these guys truly are as advertised with an eye on the future. It’s tough to keep hitting the reset button at so many positions, but the Chargers really have no choice given how poor their run defense looked this past weekend.