Defense hasn’t exactly been the calling card for the San Diego Chargers throughout this renaissance season. They hired an offensive head coach in Mike McCoy and kept the same defensive philosophies employed under the previous regime with defensive coordinator John Pagano returning. Most saw this as a positive thing heading into the season, but considering that side of the ball’s atrocious performance at times, perhaps it’s time to reevaluate that stance.
As for Sunday’s Wild Card playoff matchup with the Cincinnati Bengals, that defense will be tested once again as it was in Week 13 against this team. That battle in San Diego saw the Bolts get pummeled into submission in a less than flattering manner as the Bengals demoralized the team by running them into the ground. BenJarvus Green-Ellis carried the ball 20 times for 92 yards on the day while the elusive rookie Giovani Bernard added 14 totes for 57 yards as well. That combined 149 yards on 34 rushes works out to roughly 4.4 yards per carry which is a number pretty much any offense would take any day of the week.
Somehow the time of possession was still a deadlock in that clash a little over a month ago, but rest assured that a similar performance on Sunday won’t bode so well for the Bolts. Their collective showing defensively against the reserves for the Kansas City Chiefs last week doesn’t do much to instill confidence either, but San Diego still has a chance thanks to its own running game.
Oftentimes it’s easier to fight fire with fire, and if the Chargers can control the clock themselves with Ryan Mathews then they have a chance of keeping the Bengals’ rushing attack on the sidelines. That particular formula has found success for the Bolts recently with Mathews carrying the rock 24 times or more in each of the past four weeks and averaging a little over 118 yards per game. Putting up those types of numbers would go a long way toward helping the team contain Cincy’s rushing duo on Sunday.
Hopefully coach Pagano and his defensive unit put in the necessary work and watched the heck out of the film from their dismal Week 13 effort to get them fired up for a different outcome this weekend. The Chargers want to make sure their first trip to the postseason in four years lasts longer than one game, and keeping the Cincinnati run game in check will go a long way toward achieving that goal.