It’s time for a change.
The elephant in the room has become the unwanted guest that needs to be shown the door. A different week, a new opponent but still the same old results for the San Diego Chargers defense, as they cannot defend against the run.
Oh sure a tweak to the scheme here or a change to alignment there and that might bring a slight improvement in play, but then Green Bay Packers running back James Starks breaks off a 65-yard Sunday stroll into the end zone without a defender insight and we’re right back to square one.
Heading into Week 7, the Chargers porous rush defense is ranked 29th in the NFL, as opposing teams average 132 rushing yards-per-game, with ball carriers gaining a league-leading 5.4 yards-per-carry against this unit. This has been a problem for far too long, and personnel changes need to made immediately.
First, remove Manti Te’o and Donald Butler from the starting lineup, as their playmaking skills have all but disappeared. We have seen too many missed tackles and being caught out of position on key downs in close games for not the current predicament to scream out for a change. Neither Te’o or Butler have performed well, and one or both may need to spend some time on the sidelines to improve the situation.
Te’o entered into the NFL with the kind of hype and expectation that’s often associated with the first-overall pick of the draft. The experts thought differently, with plenty of questions surrounding whether Te’o was physical and fast enough to be considered a three-down starting inside linebacker. So far the experiment has been a disappointment, as his play on the field hasn’t progressed like the front office had hoped. Yes, Te’o has battled through foot and leg injuries (10 regular season games missed) that have played a role in hindering his on-field development.
Prior to the 2014 season, Donald Butler was finally rewarded for his dynamic play-making ability with a seven-year, $ 51 million contract and then his performance level proceeded to fall off the NFL universe. It’s not that he has forgotten how to play to football, but Butler has looked slow and hesitant to rely on his own football instincts. Hopefully, benching Butler will light a fire underneath him or he becomes an obvious salary cap causality next spring.
The selection of Denzel Perryman in the second round of this spring’s NFL Draft was a clear message from Chargers GM Tom Telesco of his dissatisfaction with the play of his inside linebackers. The Chargers see Perryman as a tackling machine that has the ability to separate the ball from the runner with each direct hit. Perryman isn’t much of a freelancer as he challenges the opposition to run through and not around him. His time on the field might be limited due to a lack of pass-defending skills, but make no mistake he was brought to San Diego to stop the run.
This linebacking duo isn’t solely responsible for the Chargers 2-4 record, but it was a matter of time before lineup changes were necessary. The bottom line is Te’o and Butler cannot stand up to the rigors of the NFL due to injuries and inconsistent play. Perryman has the ability to become the type of defensive leader that lets his actions on the field set the tone for the game.
He welcomes contact and making a big hit that disrupts the opposing team’s tempo in the contest. The Chargers currently employ too many defensive pedestrians and that must change if this team is going to move forward.