LA Chargers News

Chargers notebook: Offensive line, Austin Ekeler’s usage, playcalling

NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 20: Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers signals at the line of scrimmage during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Chargers 23-20. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 20: Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers signals at the line of scrimmage during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Chargers 23-20. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
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NASHVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 20: Joey Bosa #97 of the Los Angeles Chargers rushes the quarterback and is blocked by Dennis Kelly #71 of the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 20, 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Chargers 23-20. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN – OCTOBER 20: Joey Bosa #97 of the Los Angeles Chargers rushes the quarterback and is blocked by Dennis Kelly #71 of the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 20, 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Chargers 23-20. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)

Why is the Chargers’ defensive coaching and scheme so “bad”?

In short, it’s not bad. It’s not good either, but it is a stretch to say it is bad. Gus Bradley has had injuries on all levels of the defense, Nasir Adderley, Denzel Perryman, and Melvin Ingram have all been hurt. To start off the year, he was without Michael Davis, leaving Brandon Facyson to struggle, and you can’t forget that Derwin James and Adrian Phillips are both out for at least half of the season.

How can you really blame Bradley for the defensive struggles when Rayshawn Jenkins and Roderic Teamer are your starting safeties? Yes, Jenkins has shown flashes, but remains largely inconsistent, especially in the tackling department.

Then you have the linebacker group, the biggest acquisition in Thomas Davis is struggling, Denzel Perryman is dealing with a nagging ankle injury, and Drue Tranquill blew a coverage and missed a third-down tackle. Then you look at the interior defensive line and see that Ingram, Justin Jones, and Brandon Mebane, all three starters, were all inactive last week. Yet, Bradley’s defense still limited Derrick Henry and the Titans’ running game. So how much blame can you really put on coaching or scheme?

Could it be better? There is always room for improvement, and the defense has improved every week since the season started. That said, what solutions can you think up? A common one is to play more man coverage. Okay, but when they tried that Davis got beat one on one against Detroit to allow the Lions to run the clock out, and you’ve got Jatavis Brown getting beat one on one against James Conner for a touchdown.

So what about Cover 2? Tampa 2? Cover 1? Cover 0? Again, Cover 1 and Cover 0 rely a lot on man coverage, and the Chargers have had very bad luck with Teamer, Brown, Davis, and Perryman in man coverage. All have made truly awful mistakes when tested in those coverages. So Tampa 2 then? Well, the easy answer to this one is, do you truly have faith in Teamer being one on one with a wide receiver like Stefon Diggs over the top? What about Courtland Sutton? Tyreek Hill?

I didn’t think so.

Well if they don’t have the personnel to run these coverages, why don’t they go get safeties who can? If only it were so easy. Of the big names available, there is Eric Berry, but you can cross him off due to injury. Then you have D.J. Swearinger, T.J. McDonald, both bad coverage guys that give you the same problems as Teamer. What about Marcus Gilchrist? Maybe he would be better as a Cover 2 safety, possibly, but what about when they shift to Cover 3, do you want Gilchrist in the box? No. There lies the major problem, you need a versatile, explosive, playmaking safety to fill in  for James. They don’t grow on trees.

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