It’s been hard to nail down exactly where the biggest weakness is on this San Diego Chargers team during the 2013 season. One week the offense stalls out in the red zone to cost the team a game, and the next week the defense surrenders easy yards through the air at critical junctures to fall in dramatic fashion. Though both sides of the ball have had their fair share of problems this season, the emerging playmakers on the defensive side of the football have been plentiful on what has turned into a no-name assortment of talent that flat out gets the job done.
Starting with linebacker Thomas Keiser – one of my picks to have a breakout season prior to the year – whose ability to rush the passer has been huge in the absence of Melvin Ingram and then Dwight Freeney and Larry English. Injuries haven’t deterred this player who was originally part of the final roster cuts and not added to the roster until Week 5. He is tied for the team lead in sacks at 4.5 and has a 6-foot-4 260-pound frame that’s ideal for excelling in the 3-4 defense.
Reggie Walker plays every position in the linebacking corps and just makes an impact when inserted into the lineup. He arrived after being let go by the Arizona Cardinals in the final roster cut-downs and has made a niche for himself with the Bolts. His stat line implies his versatility with 41 tackles, three sacks, four quarterback hits and a forced fumble. As a scrap heap addition prior to the season on Sept. 2, it’s safe to say the team found a gem in Walker.
Undrafted free agent safety Jahleel Addae along with veteran free agent Richard Marshall at corner and trade deadline pick up Sean Lissemore on the defensive line have all contributed as well. Addae has been a phenomenal find out of Central Michigan with 31 tackles, a sack and a fumble recovery on the year. Marshall has had to step into a struggling secondary and try to right the ship as offseason addition Derek Cox has been inconsistent all year. Lissemore’s contributions have been more unnoticed, but he has been a part of a defensive line rotation that has really stepped up in stuffing the run this season.
And credit for all of these savvy additions must go to general manager Tom Telesco who has done an admirable job of piecing together a roster that gets the job done this year. Clearly he has an eye for talented players that have been cast aside or overlooked by other organizations, and that is key to building a winning team on a budget.
The Bolts held Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos to their lowest scoring output of the season in their Week 15 win with only 20 points surrendered. Even in their first meeting San Diego allowed just 28 points which was the third lowest total Denver had put up all year. This defense isn’t without some flaws, but with Telesco as the architect to building a consistent winner it shouldn’t be long before that goal is realized.