San Diego Chargers Defensive Positional Match-Ups to Watch

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Sep 9, 2013; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers inside linebacker Donald Butler (56), defensive end Kendall Reyes (91) and outside linebacker Dwight Freeney (93) bring down Houston Texans running back Arian Foster (23) after a short gain during first half action at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY

 

 

Welcome back everyone. Last time we evaluated some key offensive match-ups on the Chargers roster. Today I will be covering our top match-ups on the defensive side of the ball. I will go through everything from the secondary, to the line and everything else in between. I will also include an upside advantage for the match-ups, just like I did last time. Alright let’s get into it, we will start with the defensive line.

 

Ryan Carrethers vs. Sean Lissemore 

This will be the biggest matchup on the defensive line. Corey Liuget and Kendall Reyes will both man their spots in 2014. Ryan Carrethers could give Sean Lissemore a run for his job here. Carrethers was our 5th round selection in this year’s draft and is a natural nose tackle. The dude put up 93 tackles at Arkansas State last year and 4 sacks to go with that. That is just crazy. 93 tackles? From a NOSE TACKLE! That is an insane amount of tackles especially for playing the nose tackle position. Ryan will most likely sub in and out with Lissemore this season and could potentially take the starting role by next year.

We picked up Sean Lissemore from the Dallas Cowboys last season in a trade for a 7th round selection in next year’s draft. What a steal! we were able to use him way more effectively than Dallas did, we cranked out 2 sacks out of him and a pick that was returned to the house. And he wasn’t even our starting nose tackle, Cam Thomas was our #1 guy for quite some time until the end of the season. Lissemore proved to us that he can be a solid option in the middle and could help compliment Liuget and Reyes if he played a little more. Can’t believe it took that long to bench Thomas.

Upside: I have Sean Lissemore gaining the upside in this match-up only because he has been with the team for a full year now and understands the playbook better than Carrethers. I do have Carrethers winning this job by the end of this year if he develops quickly enough. If not this year, then 2015 is Ryan’s year for sure.

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  • afroamongfew

    Technically, you should include Melvin Ingram in that competition for starting snaps at the Jack OLB spot with Freeney and Attaochu. I know that it seems like Ingram, with his jack-of-all-trades, master of none capabilities makes more sense as a Sam linebacker (and essentially competing with Johnson for snaps) but he was drafted in the first round in order to be a pass rusher. That being said, I think the wiser move would be to move Ingram around the line, having him split snaps with JJ and ALSO line him up on the inside to spot Kendall Reyes (who likely needs to be reeled back into a situational down role). That way you’re able to get him on the field as frequently as possible without having to take too many snaps away from JJ, Freeney and/or Attaochu.

    Also, I think you could include an 8th battle, and it’s between Kavell Connor and Manti Te’o. The Chargers ranked among dead last in the league at stopping the run when it came to the front 7, and while a lot of that blame falls on the performance of the DTs and NTs (especially Kendall Reyes) you can put the blame on Te’o (as well as Butler and the other backup ILBs) for it. Connor was brought in from Indy to help contain the rush, and I could see the possibility of him moving up above Te’o on the depth chart in order to move Te’o to a situational role (such as on obvious passing downs and third downs) that would suit his skillset a lot more than throwing him out there and expecting him to be stout against the run (which he never was, not even at Notre Dame).

    • Julien Bélair

      Ingram job is as safe as it gets

      • afroamongfew

        Y’know, I’m not so sure. Again, he was drafted by the old regime as a pass-rushing threat (not necessarily that he excels at that, mind you) but the new regime took a guy who plays the exact same position as he does in the 2nd. I’m not saying it’s likely, but it’s very possible that the FO took Attaochu with replacing BOTH Ingram and Freeney in mind (eventually).

        • Julien Bélair

          I feel like you would be right if we had Van Noy who is very similar to Ingram in terms of skills set. But Attaochu is here to be a compliment to Ingram. Attaochu is the pure pass rusher and Ingram is the OLB who is great at pass rush AND against the run.

          IMO they brought Attaochu to be an epic tandem with Ingram for the next several years

          • BlueBoltFan

            I agree. I think they”re looking to have Ingram and Attaouchu as their bookend OLBs for the future.

          • afroamongfew

            I think that’s what I felt when Attaochu was picked, but I mean, how good can Ingram be at setting the edge against the rush? That is what makes JJ such a key component of our defense.

    • Parker Richardson

      I definitely agree! Kendall Reyes just got bullied against the run. But having Cam Thomas next to him certainly didn’t help. Having Carrethers in there is going to help out the front 7 a lot on running plays because he’s not going to be pushed off the line of scrimmage. However, i do hope they save Reyes for passing situations.

      • afroamongfew

        I love Carrethers, and I think he has the talent to start, but we’ll see what happens. I think it would be a wise decision, once Freeney, Johnson and English (among others) move on to consider going 3-4 deep, in terms of starter-level DEs, on the roster. It’d be nice to take a run-stopping, gap-occupying DE in the 2015 draft if Reyes doesn’t significantly improve this year.

    • Bolty

      Preach!

    • BlueBoltFan

      I disagree entirely about Te’o. TT has stated repeatedly that he was a fan of Manti at Notre Dame and watched him closely when he was with the Colts. PLUS he moved up to draft him. Barring a career-ending injury or a complete meltdown, Te’o isn’t going anywhere for at least the next 3 years. And considering the injury that forced him to miss most of training camp, Te’o had a decent year for a rookie LB, particularly in that he got better week-to-week. I would not expect his 2nd year (where players tend to make the biggest jump) to look at all like his first. Kavell Connor feels to me like he’s more of a rotation/sub-package player with the ability to provide quality starts in case of injury –which is an issue for Butler more than Te’o.

      Ingram lost 3/4 of his 2nd season to injury and still probably wasn’t 100% coming back so quickly.But he’s flashed major play-making potential. Shareece Wright improved throughout the season. Gilchrist looks like he found a home at SS/Nickel CB. And both Reyes and Liuget played better once there was a guy who could actually play NT in the line-up. These are all ascending players.

      Often times, we fans are too quick to pass judgement on young players. Pat Kirwan did a study awhile back and found that, on average, it takes 2-3 years before drafted players become regular starters (I believe D-line and CB take the longest time). The players that explode out of the gate have a tendency to stick out in our minds and so we fans (along with a few badly run franchises) often hold all rookies to that standard. It’s not fair or realistic and I don’t think the good teams do it.

      • afroamongfew

        I think you misunderstand me, I don’t think the team should chuck Te’o out a window, I just think the idea that he’s a multi-down ILB doesn’t mesh with his skillset at all. Te’o did not demonstrate the ability to shed blocks, hit the seams to stop running backs confidently (i.e. he hesitated too often and was frequently washed out of plays), and did not finish his tackles (which was a team-wide symptom at times, tbh). A stout run-defending ILB needs to be able to do all of these things, and I’d rather have Connor out there on obvious run downs and short yardage situations than Te’o (whose awareness better suits him to pass defense, anyway). I did not see him improving in any of these areas week to week. That being said, I am pretty sure Te’o will wind up starting because of one of the reasons you listed (that Telesco gave up an arm and a leg to draft him) which is the primary reason why I believe that Ingram will “lose” snaps to Attaochu (another case of one guy being a TT guy and the other being an AJ Smith guy), not Melvin’s injury or level of play last year.

        The players you listed may be ascending, but whatever development they’re going through is far from linear for all of the players you mentioned. This marks the second straight year that Shareece Wright and Corey Liuget had wildly inconsistent development in their level of play. Kendall Reyes was just baaaaaaaaaaaaad at stopping the run (PFF graded him out as 45th out of 45 DTs in the league last year) and while I don’t think he was Clary-on-defense levels of bad, it’s still something to consider that the first year he was given starting duties instead of being a situational defender, he struggled mightily. I question whether Te’o can be the two-down run-stuffing ILB the team apparently believes him to be given that John Pagano does not have a spotless record of coaching up young defensive players (in fact, it’s hard to “find” that record amid all of the spots). Therefore, instead of trying to get way too much out of some of these young defenders (Te’o and Reyes) it might be more wise to move them back into situational roles until they demonstrate that they can handle those responsibilities (and not because there were pretty much no other DTs or the likes of Andrew Gachkar and Bront Bird at ILB).

        • BlueBoltFan

          Yeah, I’m not too big a fan of PFF. It can tell you a lot about what happened and in great detail, but not much about why, particularly in terms of scheme, injuries, coaching, gameplan, etc. Thus, it’s not all that predictive of future outcomes. So the fact that Reyes graded out so poorly tells us that he had a bad year, not necessarily whether he’s a bad player. I DO think part of the problem is that Reyes has a 3-tech skill set and that he would be more successful attacking the LoS rather than trying to hold the point, similar to how they use JJ Watt. In fact, they’re very similar players from a size/speed/strength perspective:

          JJ Watt 6’5″ 290 lbs 40 time: 4.81 sec.; BP: 34 reps; Vert. 37″; Broad: 10″; 20 yard shuttle: 4.21 sec.; 3-cone: 6.88 sec.

          Kendall Reyes 6’4″ 299 lbs. 40 time: 4.82 sec; BP: 36 reps; Vert. 34.5″ Broad: 9’05″; 20 yard shuttle: 4.53 sec.; 3-cone: 7.43 sec.

          Watt is quicker and more explosive in the lower body (on top of all the intangibles), but their measurables are very compatible. And I’m not in any way suggesting that Reyes would be JJ Watt, only that he might be more successful if used in a similar way. Because you’re right about the Chargers history of developing front 7 players post Wade Phillips. I question whether they can turn him into a top notch 5-tech.

          I take your point on Manti, too. I just think it’s too early for me to judge.

          All in all I tend to agree with your take on these young players. There’s a lot of hit and miss. My optimism stems from how they played at the end of the season and my expectation that, being young, they’ll improve from that.

          • afroamongfew

            Word. I don’t think Kendall is INCAPABLE of being the starting, multi-down DE just because of how bad he did last year, but it might be wiser to start splitting his snaps if we don’t see significant improvement this year.

        • Nick in PB

          Afroamongfew, I think that the problems Te’o had can more be contributed to him not having a full training camp as well as playing injured throughout the season. One of his strengths is suppose to be his instincts and diagnosis. Being a rookie with very little prep time in the preseason hindered his development. He likely spent way too much time thinking instead of reacting. He should be much better this season. He should be attacking instead of reacting but I think that is typicle for a rookie middle backer. Plus, you have to take into account all the no-huddle offenses going on these days. It’s much harder to substitute, at times, therefore the players on the field have two be more versatile, not just situational.

    • Nick Mansoor

      Ingram is starting for sure, enough said

      • afroamongfew

        Where though? At the strong-side over JJ? At the weak-side over Freeney AND Attaochu? At DT?

        • Nick Mansoor

          I have Ingram starting on the left and switching in and out with Johnson. Dwight will man the other end of the outside and will switch in with Attouchu

          • afroamongfew

            Mmm, yeah that’s what I thought at first, BUT it’s hard to ignore JJ’s contributions on defense as, basically, the only linebacker on the squad that’s good at defending against the run.

  • vct

    Hold on there where is jaddael?

    • afroamongfew

      “Jahleel Addae will most likely be our staring Safety in 2014 but the depth behind him is a big question mark.”

      • arnie

        Never the less, he will have to compete for his job as well. Those question marks, are the reason he moved up the depth chart. It does not guarantee Taylor or, an UDFA won’t blow him out of the water.

      • Nick Mansoor

        Thank you Afro lol

  • arnie

    Geathers, Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, Tenny Palepoi, should also be considered in that mix. Geathers was the 3rd man on the depth chart and has knows the system. His youth and size could give him an edge over Lissemore. Tenny was known for clogging up the middle. Ricky looks to be headed towards DE, i expect him to be worked out at camp in the middle.

    • Bolty

      Geathers and Carrethers rotating in at NT. Palepoi I’m very interested if he can earn a roster spot which I hope he can. I see Lissemore possibly starting over Reyes or at least in on more obvious run situations. In fact Lissemore and Guy seem to be good rotational guys at DE really. After last year, Reyes and Teo have to “earn” those starting positions not inherit them. The DL and ILB should be a serious focus for the Chargers now. We need to get the average run play below 3 yards pp vs. 5 yards pp of last year! They needed spikes not skates for goodness sakes.

  • BlueBoltFan

    I’m okay with Richard Marshall against a #4 WR.

    • afroamongfew

      I doubt Marshall makes it past training camp. No guaranteed money in his contract means he’s expendable if enough guys step it up.

      • BlueBoltFan

        I hope you’re right. That would mean last year”s #2 CB doesn’t even make this year’s roster. #upgrade

  • BlueBoltFan

    I’m rooting for Chris Davis, but I’m hoping our CB position looks like:

    #1. Shareece Wright
    #2. Jason Verrett
    #3. Steve Williams
    #4. Brandon Ghee
    #5 Chris Davis

    I’m also rooting for Marcus Cromartie (Cro 2.0?). He has the bloodlines along with the speed and athleticism that goes with the name, plus a year of development under his belt. Hopefully he can snag a spot on the final 53.

    • Julien Bélair

      where is Gilly

      • BlueBoltFan

        Billy?

        • Julien Bélair

          Gilly sry auto correct

          • BlueBoltFan

            Heh. Yeah, I consider Gilly part of the safety group even though he can play both positions. I think his spot is more as a rotational/sub-package player on the back end.

    • Stefanie Smith

      I thought they released Marcus because of an injury last year. I could be wrong, but I thought I saw some dead money for Marcus on overthecap.com

    • Nick Mansoor

      Richard Marshall gets cut lol I like your thinking haha

  • Julien Bélair

    I don’t know if you guys saw the 1 minute video on chargers.com. but Addae is in there and he is just wayyyyyy faster than anybody else and his teamates seem impress

    • BlueBoltFan

      Yeah, I’ve seen it, too. You’re 100% right. He’s noticeably quicker and crisper on his cuts than everyone else in video.

      • Julien Bélair

        He is really working hard this offseason… he was 195 pounds last season he is now up to 200 pounds. I really love this guy he is quickly becoming the Malcom Floyd of the defence

        • Stefanie Smith

          Seriously. I am all for Addae. He has been working hard during the offseason on his own.

    • Parker Richardson

      I noticed the same thing! Can’t wait to watch Addae in camp. His foot quickness and change of direction ability looks way better! Now with a year under his belt and a better understanding of the defense i think he is going to be a playmaker!

  • Marcel West-Bailey

    The clause for all of our players at every position: if they can stay healthy.

  • BlueBoltFan

    I hope someone runs away with the competition in the secondary. We don’t want players who are marginally better than last year, we need a significant bump in caliber.

    Also hoping the pass rush improves significantly as that will help our pass d, too. Hopefully we can get 10 sacks out of the D-line this year and at least another 25 out of the line backers.

  • BlueBoltFan

    BTW, I think Shareece Wright played a lot better toward the end of last year. He really seems to fit the off man coverage Pags tends to play. Hopefully he’ll be even better in his 3rd year. I tend to forget these guys are all pretty young and still ascending (except Marshall).

    • Julien Bélair

      I’m very pleased with Wright he is a solid number 2

      • CALiFORNiAkiD

        The way he played late in the season, I wouldn’t rule him out as a real 1 CB.

        He held AJ Green and Demaryius Thomas to 80 yards combined in the PLAYOFFS!!

        That’s special.

        • Nick619chargers4life

          That’s really good , I didn’t know the stats .