Run LaDainian Tomlinson, and run him often. Work the clock. Bring back the real Marty Ball, where the defense is stifling and the offense controls the pace of the game. Throw in an occasional deep route to open things up a bit and get a win. Do it for the San Diego Chargers fans and do it for the team.
"I don't care how healthy their receivers are or aren't, you're going to see a lot of Tomlinson," said Coach Billick. "He's one of the dynamic backs in the league. The addition of Lorenzo Neal is huge for them, because he is one of the, if not the best lead backs in the game. That has and will make a huge difference for Tomlinson."
Unfortunately for the Chargers, they have yet to see it. They have been blown away so quickly in games this season, Tomlinson, the Bolts best weapon, has been rendered useless. As much as the offense has to do a better job on third downs, 1-11 last week, the defense has a mountain to climb.
"I believe we will get better as the year goes on," Schottenheimer said. "I believe we are a more talented football team than we were a year ago. Once we knew we were going to change, we knew would go through these growing pains."
It all starts with the front seven. In week one, the whole defense allowed the perimeters to be exposed as the Swiss cheese it was. In week two, the Bolts did a better job on the perimeter, but dismissed the notion of cutback lanes, citing it as a "fad". Jamal Lewis ran for 295 yards against a defense that may be better than the Chargers against the run right now. That is saying something. Lewis will throw a wrench into the front seven. He is a more of a north-south runner that mows down anyone in his way. Yes he has speed, yes he is talented and yes he will still rush the edge, but running behind the biggest offensive line in the league, he just needs to follow his blocks.
This week it is even more vital for the Chargers front seven to maintain their gaps. Jamal Williams and Jason Fisk must be the antagonists to start it all off.
"They're a very veteran group," said Billick. "This team has some maturity to it and those guys have played a while. You're not going to trick them. They're still coming together as a defense a little bit, because they're still new to each other, to a certain degree, but there's some veteran presence there, so you're not going to trick them."
"I think what has happened is that we struggled defensively here," Said Schottenheimer. "A year ago, we didn't find ourselves faced up to two of the better offenses in the league like this time. We are more talented, but we are not as well coordinated."
Once the run is stopped. Let's rephrase, once the Chargers have limited the success of the run, the secondary and its coverage can be taken into account.
"We were not a real good defensive football team at the end of last season," Schottenheimer said. "We felt like the only way we were going to get better was to get faster, and we've done that."
The Chargers are definitely younger in the secondary. That can be viewed in many ways. They are green and when challenged could get burned. They are also fast and could make up for mistakes with their athleticism.
Oh and check the logs Marty, the team defense is not very good this year either.
"I can't imagine them not blitzing or having eight in the box on every snap," Billick said. "We'll be prepared if they don't, but they're going to have people down there. You've got to be able to run against that, but at the same time, you have to be able to take advantage of that on the outside."
"We have four new starters in the secondary, we have a new starter on the defensive line, plus we have a new starter at linebacker and another linebacker who is playing a different position," Schottenheimer said. "That is seven out of 11. We don't have the cohesiveness and the coordination on enough plays. We graded out last week in a game that we lost by a considerable margin at about 50-52 percent against the run and the pass. You can't do that and be successful. I think that you have to be up around the 75-78 percent."
The questions will go unanswered until this weekend. Can the Chargers stay in a game long enough to allow Tomlinson to take over? Can the defense ever stop the run? Will the coaching and preparation be better this week?
The questions go on and on, that is why they play the game.
Denis Savage can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Aaron Wilson contributed to this report
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