As losers of four of their past five games, it’s hard to say the San Diego Chargers have anything to be optimistic about heading into their Week 14 battle with the New York Giants. Perhaps one thing folks in San Diego can be happy about is that fact that the game will at least be on local television this week after becoming the NFL’s first blackout a week ago. In order to make turning on the television a worthwhile option for fans of the Bolts, however, the team has to tighten up in coverage on Sunday.
It’s been a wild ride for the Chargers on defense with defensive coordinator John Pagano doing his best with a patchwork unit to keep the team alive in tight contests. The Bolts have yet to be blown out once this season, but their secondary has been hard to watch at times. Free agent acquisition Derek Cox has been benched multiple times for poor play, and his opposite at cornerback in Shareece Wright hasn’t fared much better. Safety Marcus Gilchrist has been average at best in his first year of the position change, and even Eric Weddle has put up a less than stellar effort.
And into town come the Giants with their bevy of weapons in Victor Cruz, Hakeem Nicks, and Rueben Randle to ravage a secondary that has enough trouble with average receiver groups. They have seen how poorly the Chargers’ secondary is playing this season, and their top target in Cruz fancies their chances against the Bolts as he told ESPN:
“I believe this is an opportunity for us to get ourselves going again in the passing game. I think we see some things we can open up against. I think this week we’ll get some opportunities to hit some big plays against the style of defense they run.”
There’s no doubt the Chargers are going to have to keep an eye on No. 80 and the rest of quarterback Eli Manning’s targets on Sunday. Only four teams have given up more than the 268.8 passing yards per game surrendered by the Chargers this season, and that doesn’t bode well for them heading into this contest.
Expect to see plenty of nickel and dime packages out of the San Diego defense as Pagano attempts to apply pressure on Manning while playing zone coverage behind the blitz. These tactics have burned the Chargers quite frequently already this season, but they really have no other options at this point with the majority of their fierce pass rushers out due to injury.
It may seem like a futile exercise to try and pressure Manning into errant throws on Sunday, but he hasn’t had much trouble throwing the ball to the other team all season long. The Chargers haven’t had many takeaways this year, but that could change for the better going up against the generous Eli this weekend. How San Diego fares against the Giants’ passing attack will go a long way in deciding who ends up on top in this one.