It’s been a tough year to be a member of the San Diego Chargers’ secondary. Article after article has been penned on just how poorly this unit has performed for the Bolts, and the guys out there trying to make plays had to be getting sick of the criticism. That certainly seemed to be the case this past Sunday for the defensive backs trying to keep the New York Giants’ pass catchers in check.
Improving on atrocious play may be easier than trying to improve upon perfection, but the Bolts at least have shown some signs of getting better in recent weeks. Their secondary has allowed just two touchdown passes over the past two weeks when facing both the Cincinnati Bengals and Giants respectively. That’s quite an improvement for a unit that has already surrendered 20 TD tosses on the season.
Safety Eric Weddle has been the most consistent member of the secondary this season, and he highlighted why the Bolts have taken a step forward in recent weeks telling ESPN:
“When it’s time to make your play, when you get a good read or a good jump on the route, you’ve got to go make it. And that’s what we’ve done the last couple weeks.”
Sometimes that can be the biggest issue for a squad with several new starters taking over for departed veterans. The San Diego secondary certainly underwent a facelift during the offseason with both starting corners and the other starting safety exiting stage left. Three out of four new pieces takes a while to come together as a cohesive unit, and it’s arguable that aside from offensive line, the secondary is the second-most important area for every guy to be on the same page. Any gaffes in coverage understanding or knowing where a teammate will be on a given play can lead to big gains for the opposition.
One of those new starters, cornerback Shareece Wright, had his best game of the season on Sunday against the Giants. His one interception, three pass deflections, and another near pick really showed that he isn’t the weakest link in the Bolts’ back-third. Wright said:
“We’re playing together, and being together as a defense. When you’re making plays, getting sacks and getting turnovers you tend to play with more confidence. When things aren’t going your way and you’re giving up big plays, you tend to lose your confidence.”
And there won’t be a time where the secondary needs to play with confidence and step up its game any more than on Thursday night when the Bolts battle the division rival Denver Broncos on a short week. Peyton Manning has been clicking on another level this season, and having the secondary working together is vital to even slowing down Denver’s aerial assault.
So even though the Chargers have been coming together recently, it will all be for naught if they can’t make an impact against the Broncos’ group of pass catchers. Look for this battle of San Diego’s secondary against Denver’s receiving corps to be the deciding factor in Thursday night’s tilt.