Can the Chargers Avoid 0-2?

Last week, the Chargers faced a buzz saw named Vonnie Holliday. While Holliday has always been an underrated player throughout his career, the Chargers offense looked out manned by a KC defense that looks average at best on paper (Don't fret KC fans … it's starting to look like Al Saunders was the real offensive genius in St. Louis) and Holliday looked like Reggie White reincarnated. After beating up on a woeful Cincinnati team, Denver comes to San Diego to face the enigmatic Chargers.

Everybody is going to focus on the offense. But this game is going to be determined by which defense makes the most plays. For Charger fans that might be a scary sight though Jake Plummer is a defenses best friend when he's off. The Broncos defense is an interesting one.

The Good

The Broncos are moving their best defensive lineman, Trevor Pryce, all over the line. He's playing left end, right end, and both tackle positions. So does that provide him an advantage?

"A very big advantage," Pryce said. "When you line up at left end every play for the whole season, what does that do? You don't create any matchups; there's nothing for you to hang you hat on."

Anyone think that the Broncos best DL will be lining up against Damion McIntosh and Kelvin Garmon after last week's debacle? Shanahan will probably try to isolate speed rusher Bert Berry on McIntosh as well until Damion proves last week was a fluke.

What separates the Broncos defense from most is three of the most athletic LB's in football. Ian Gold looks like he is going to develop into a Donnie Edwards type star, while they don't come much more athletic and talented than Al Wilson who probably will give Jason Ball fits if the Chargers force him to block in space. John Mobley is a very nice SS LB and always plays well against the Chargers.

The Bad

Darius Holland was a street free agent a month ago. Now he has a starting job at defensive tackle.

Does he have a little extra fire burning trying to prove guys wrong?

"No question," Holland said.

"I've got some heavy hitters talking real trash and putting little bad remarks in the paper and talking about how I'm overweight and I'm this and that and can't play ball and I'm not even worth camp meat. Yeah you've got some reason to come out here and have a spark. Hopefully that's what I showed."

Holland and Monsanto Pope are effective DTs, but each has some serious flaws that make them rotational players rather than full time starters and the Broncos will not have Daryl Gardener's services for at least one more week. The LB's are undersized, which could allow for gaps for LaDanian Tomlinson. I expect Tomlinson will have a couple very long runs.

The big opportunity, however, is going to be for Drew Brees to exploit. The Broncos front 4 is not very good at generating a consistent pass rush and their defensive backfield lacks some overall speed especially at the CB position. That said, Brees is going to have to watch those athletic LB's in underneath coverage. In other words, he is going to have to stretch the defense to exploit the Denver defense.

This should make for a very interesting game. The Chargers need this game and I imagine that Coach Schottenheimer was all over the Chargers for their lackluster performance against the Chiefs. I think it is going to be a close one, but the Chargers rebound and win 34-31.

Rob Curtis can be reached at

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