Pass defense is no defense

Among all the ‘I knew he could do it's' and ‘he really wants it's' and ‘we wanted to get off to a fast start' pats on the back, the one consistent problem area that isn't being tended is the pass defense. Tennessee may not have been able to complete the bomb, but they did produce some long drives.

The Chargers defense played the run magnificently. They even held the Titans short of the first down marker on many an occasion. But 58 pass attempts and not a single interception. Fifty-eight pass attempts and only a handful of times that pressure was brought. And then there were the 39 completions.

The Chargers faced a Tennessee team that had been bitten by the injury bug. What happens when they have all their parts and can test the team deep?

Schottenheimer says the goal was to take away the deep pass.

"Don't give up the big play," said Schottenheimer. "We don't like them throwing and catching as many as they did and not producing takeaways."

The starting wide receivers of Drew Bennett and Derrick Mason caught 21 balls between them. Only two went longer than 17 yards. Schottenheimer was right – they did prevent the big gain but they could not prevent the Titans from marching down the field.

"It is relative inexperience people in that secondary," says Schottenheimer. "Part of it has to do with the rush. When you are putting the rush on it becomes a little more difficult to throw it and you don't have to cover them quite as tight."

But how long can they carry that crutch?

Terrence Kiel, a tackling machine of late, is tired of the excuse.

"Being young doesn't have anything to do with our playing ability," a disgusted Kiel said.

The secondary and linebacking crew simply need to play better. Whether it is adjusting at the line to inch closer to pinch off the short routes or something else, they need to figure it out quick.

The lack of turnovers accentuates the problem.

The linebackers, unfortunately, have not been much better. Most are new to the scheme and don't realize the depth they need to adhere to. The short zones in the middle of the field are always open and the linebackers can't cover the ground in time to knock the ball away.

"Our players need to have a better understanding of what is going on around them," Schottenheimer said. "If you have some idea of what is going on around you, by the process of elimination you can figure out exactly what you have to do."

It isn't enough that they have to learn their own positions – a task that Schottenheimer said would take six to eight weeks, but now they are to know the nuances of their neighbor.

Sounds fishy.

"You have more linebackers and with that guys have different responsibilities and different adjustments, a lot of different adjustments you have to worry about," linebacker Steve Foley admits.

But are they getting better as a team?

"I see the potential in this team, not only on defense but as a unit, as a team," Zeke Moreno said. "We are capable of a lot of things. We are a young team and that brings a lot more energy and attitude. We have a positive attitude and we are going after the same goal."

The goal right now is stopping the opposition from running wild with passes. Currently they have no fear of a significant pass rush or that the receivers will be covered. That has to change. Whether it is turning them loose or further refinement, the plays they are running are not working.

Lightning quicks:

  • Last week it seemed they team was coming down on quarterback Drew Brees. One good performance later and the trend has been reversed.

    "Obviously, Philip Rivers was drafted to play," Roman Oben said. "But Drew is only in his fourth year, he's only 25 years old. He has a lot of good football ahead of him, whether it's here or somewhere else."


  • Running back LaDainian Tomlinson is the first AFC player in 2004 to reach 500 scrimmage yards. He is attempting to cross the 2,000 yards from scrimmage mark for the third straight year.

    Denis Savage can be reached at denis@sandiegosports.net

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