Slowing the Denver offense with patience

The offensive line is quick, the receivers are at least three deep, the quarterback and running back are both playing well and the tight end has been a factor. No, we aren't talking about the San Diego Chargers' offense.

The Denver Broncos own an impressive arsenal on offense and rank fifth in the league in yards per game as a result. They are subsequently seventh in the league in passing and sixth in rushing. Quite a well-balanced team.

Which makes defending them so much harder.

"They are probably one of the quickest O-lines that we face," defensive lineman DeQuincy Scott said. "They aren't very big, but they get to their blocks and put a hat on you and that's what makes them so effective. We just have to match their intensity and make sure that we are in our gaps."

It begins with the offensive line and filters out from there. The documentation on their blocking tactics is well defined but until the league calls their cut-block scheme illegal it will be allowed to fly.

The Chargers' defense has called it a mental edge for Denver but having faced them enough their hope is to just go out and play their game without worrying about their knees.

Reckless? Perhaps, but hesitation in the NFL is akin to a fly who doesn't react when the swatter is coming down, they will be crushed.

Once the players get past the fact that they may be cut, they will still have to tackle Reuben Droughns, a back that head coach Marty Schottenheimer said was very similar to Terrell Davis.

"We know what it is going to take," linebacker Steve Foley began. "Eleven guys being relentless going to the ball."

That accomplished, there is the rest of the talent to be accounted for.

"The quarterback is a guy you have to manage because he can get hot and when he gets hot it is hard to stop him," said Schottenheimer. "They have two terrific wide receivers. Lelie is playing outstanding for them.

"Smith is a great, great story as an NFL player to come from where he did and to achieve the success he has achieved. Want to talk about leadership - that is where it comes from. Rod Smith is a great leader for that football team and has been for some time."

It will be up to the Chargers offense to keep some semblance of ball control in an effort to keep the Broncos offense off the field. LaDainian Tomlinson will therefore be called upon to handle some of the load. And he realizes the importance of keeping the ball.

"Their offense finds ways to make plays for them," he said.

The Chargers are the team that didn't have many players being picked up on fantasy teams prior to this year while the Broncos' players have been putting up cartoon numbers for years across the board. Things have changed but the threat of fireworks from the Broncos remains.

Taking away the run, as the Chargers did the first time the two met, means more opportunity for Plummer to make his magic. While erratic as times, Plummer can make plays in and out of the pocket which makes staying with assignments more critical. It is a flea flicker on any play that he gets outside of the pocket as the linebackers take a step towards the line and Plummer delivers the killing blow just beyond their reach.

What makes it so difficult is the receivers he has who can find that extra yard of separation as Plummer moved towards the sidelines – something he didn't have in Arizona purgatory.

"We had to make sure we didn't lose our poise when they move the ball because they move the ball on everyone," Schottenheimer said.

Moving the ball can't equate to touchdowns in the Chargers' eyes. Bend, sure. Break, not with the division on the line.

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