Portis, Denver to Face the Chargers

The talk of the town is the resurgence of a 41-year old quarterback that goes by the name of Doug Flutie. Forgotten in all this is the San Diego Chargers face the Denver Broncos this week in the not so friendly confines of Mile High.

We interrupt this Doug Flutie love-fest for some discouraging news: the Chargers face running back Clinton Portis and the Broncos on Sunday in Denver.

While the team -- and most Chargers fans -- remain giddy over Flutie's fantastic showing in Sunday's 42-28 triumph, the fact remains the defense remains shoddy.

And now here comes Portis, who has sped past 100 yards rushing in each of his three contests with the Chargers.

Portis was sensational in the Broncos most recent triumph over the Chargers, a 37-13 spanking in Week 2. In that wipe out, the Chargers were buried in wave of Portis yards, as he collected 129 yards. But that number comes with an asterisk, as Portis did his considerable damage despite leaving the game in the second quarter with a bruised sternum.

On the Broncos' first two possessions, Portis had 110 yards on seven carries and the Chargers were clearly overmatched in trying to stop last year's offensive rookie of the year.

And while everyone is focusing on their recharged offense, it's the defense that the Chargers should be most concerned about.

The Chargers' run defense used to a staple, something they prided themselves in. But with the subtraction of Pro Bowlers Junior Seau and Rodney Harrison -- and before that, the departure of tackle John Parrella -- that run defense has fallen on hard times.

It enters the game with the NFL's No. 29th defense, which is 24th against the run.

What happened? A number of things.

The linebacking corps was overhauled, with Zeke Moreno being plopped into the middle as a first-year starter, and Donnie Edwards being moved from the middle to weak-side. Ben Leber, in his second-year as a starter at the strong-side, seemed to regress -- especially earlier in the year.

And the interior of the defensive line hasn't played as well as the coaches envisioned. Jamal Williams is the team's top-run stuffer, but he's having a mediocre year. Jason Fisk, the other tackle, never has done what the Chargers' brass had promised -- replace John Parrella.

Plus, with two young corners -- second-year pro Quentin Jammer and rookie Sammy Davis -- they are reluctant to ditch their coverages for consistent run support, fearing they'll get burned for leaving their assignments prematurely.

Those are the key reasons why the run defense has been getting run over -- allowing nearly 127 yards per game. Until the Chargers get that cleaned up, the dirty truth is the defense, and the team -- Flutie withstanding -- is in a mile-high of trouble.


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