Chargers Defense is Regressing

A week ago the San Diego Chargers gave up 26 first downs to the Denver Broncos. Many thought it could not get worse. It did. The defense had no answers A week after Denver held the ball for over 44 minutes, the Bengals had the ball for 38:18.

Hard to believe that the San Diego Chargers defense could get any worse than it has been. For a short spell it looked like the defense was getting better. It was a mirage. The teams they faced were perhaps not as good. Cincinnati simply moved the ball at will. They threw the ball and everyone was open. They ran the ball and gained major yardage. The defense looked terrible.

"The big thing about this game is," said quarterback Jon Kitna, "we won a game we were supposed to win. We came out here and took care of business, and that's not easy in the NFL."

They certainly did. The Chargers tackling was disgusting. The Bengals running backs are a talented group, but there is no excuse for the pathetic display put on by each and every member of the Chargers defense.

"In a number of situations, we did not get where we needed to be," Marty Schottenheimer said.

PlayerRush YardsYards Per Carry
Corey Dillon 1086.0
Rudi Johnson654.1
Brandon Bennett77.0
Jeremi Johnson175.7
Peter Warrick175.7

"I felt good. How did I look?" Dillon asked.

He was playing the Chargers. Of course he looked good.

"We did not defend the run," Schottenheimer said. "They got into their three wide receiver package and we went into nickel. We spent a lot of time this week thinking they would run on us in nickel. We failed to get the proper distribution of players in the gaps that they are responsible for."

Total rushing yards= 217
Total yards per carry= 5.2
Total first downs allowed= 33
Bengals third down conversion %= 65%
Total third down conversions= 13

"We reaffirmed today that it is a game of third downs," Schottenheimer said. We didn't get it done on third down on offense and we certainly didn't get it done on third down on defense.

We got to make plays, especially on third down," Donnie Edwards said. "And we failed to do that."

How did the Chargers even stay in the game?

Not easily answered. The Bengals had so many drives that used up time and short chunks of the field that the team had a chance to come back. The game wasn't really as close as the score would indicate.

The defense gave up 454 yards. The only solace was the Bengals had so many third downs after picking up short chunks of yardage that they missed seven of them. The Chargers, conversely missed eight, but they only converted three to the Bengals 13.

"We have to go make plays," Schottenheimer said. "We get to paid to stop them on defense. I am not going to sit back and hide and protect them. We have a job to do. Let's go do it."

"We have five games left," Edwards said. "If we can get a role going now and start in a positive direction, then that is what we are looking at."

Marcellus Wiley said it best: "It's not pretty out here."

Denis Savage can be reached at

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