And to top that off, 4 of the 13 rank top 5 in rushing! We play the #1, #2, #3, and #4 rushing teams. Bring it!
It’s no question that the Chargers fielded one of the best defenses in the NFL last season. What will it take for the Bolts to retain the title as the number 1 defense in the nation? Well lets break it down.
In 2010, here is how we ended in rankings for defense:
Opposing pass yards per game: 177.8 – 1st overall
Opposing rush yards per game: 93.8 – 4th overall
In 2011, our schedule is ranked tied for 3rd toughest of any team, with our average opponent well above the .500 mark. So looking more in depth at our schedule, how do we prepare to retain the throne of a defensive powerhouse and keep moving down our path to the Super Bowl?
Our 1st overall ranked pass defense this season will be supplemented in 2011 by a beast in Bob Sanders, and new Rookie defensive back additions Marcus Gilchrist and Shareece Wright. Now if only we could get our linebacker core to where it used to be, then we would be in a serious run for all the marbles. With Donald Butler (as I call him, a 2nd time rookie), Jonas Mouton and Larry English trying to prove their worth on the roster, someone will be forced to step up and take a leadership role in run defense and getting pressure on the Quarterback.
Why do I say that we should focus on Run Defense first during this off-season? Let’s take a look at what kind of teams we are facing this season. This is a list of all our opponents for 2011.
- Minnesota Vikings -pass offense ranked 26th / rush offense ranked 10th / Will be relying on rookie Christian Ponder at QB. Rush game is elite with Adrian Peterson in the backfield.
- New England Patriots – pass offense ranked 11th / rush offense ranked 9th / Tom Brady is always a threat to any defense, but last season the Patriots proved to be versatile in the run game and utilized Danny Woodhead.
- Kansas City Chiefs – pass offense ranked 30th / rush offense ranked 1st / Charles is an elite rusher and will keep any defense on their toes. Cassel struggled in 2010 to really find a groove in that offense.
- Miami Dolphins – pass offense ranked 16th / rush offense ranked 21st / The Dolphins offense has been all around anything but impressive as of late. I do not see our defense being challenged too hard here.
- Denver Broncos – pass offense ranked 7th / rush offense ranked 26th / The quarterback situation in Denver is a big question mark right now, and their run game is far from elite.
- New York Jets – pass offense ranked 22nd / rush offense ranked 4th / The Jets could be losing a couple big name receivers to free agency and Mark Sanchez does not have a great history of opening up the pass game. The Jets bring a one sided offense that could be stuttered by a strong d-line and linebacker core.
- Green Bay Packers – pass offense ranked 5th / rush offense ranked 24th / This will be the ultimate test of our pass defense for the season in my opinion, and the Packers started to fire up the run game in the end of 2010. With Ryan Grant coming back from I.R. , Brandon Jackson, and 2nd year RB James Starks exploding they could bring some heat to our defense in all aspects.
- Oakland Raiders – pass offense ranked 23rd / rush offense ranked 2nd / The Raiders lit us up last season with their run game and we could not come up with a solution in either game. With Run DMC playing at his full potential and the addition of speedy rookie Taiwan Jones in the backfield, we will be prepping hard for this game to say the least.
- Chicago Bears – pass offense ranked 28th / rush offense ranked 22nd / The Bears have an extremely talented roster, but for some reason they cannot seem to put it together for high stats on offense. Their defense was the reason that they almost made it to the Super Bowl in 2010. Cutler is a master of the pick 6 and our defense will take full advantage.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – pass offense ranked 27th / rush offense ranked 3rd / There is uncertainty in the quarterback and receiver situations in Jacksonville right now, but that won’t stop MJD from pounding through some 100 yard games and proving he is still a top 5 NFL running back.
- Buffalo Bills – pass offense ranked 24th / rush offense ranked 18th / The Bills have serious potential at running back with 2nd year player C.J. Spiller still developing. The quarterback situation is far from concrete in Buffalo as they look to solidify a serious pass game.
- Baltimore Ravens – pass offense ranked 20th / rush offense ranked 14th / The Ravens have older receivers, but have beefed up their core with rookie Torrey Smith. Although Joe Flacco has a cannon arm, they manage to keep more of a solid run game with the Rice/McGahee combo over an air attack.
- Detroit Lions – pass offense ranked 12th / rush offense ranked 23rd / The Lions are far from elite in the pass game, and if they did not have Calvin Johnson to haul in the loose balls they wouldn’t have much of a pass game at all. They have a great running back in Jahvid Best with elite speed and if he can stay healthy he could be an NFL top 10 rusher.