Chargers promise better run defense in 2005

Could it be possible? The San Diego Chargers being better against the run in 2005? Anchored by Jamal Williams in the middle it is a definite possibility.

The Chargers run defense was stingier than a dot.com accountant when the Internet market busted during the 2004 season.

Their 81.7 yards rushing per game against ranked third in the lead, just .5 yards off the pace. And they were tied for sixth in the league after allowing 3.7 yards per carry.

This year, with a year of learning under their belts, the Chargers are looking to get even better against the run and supplementing that with an improved pass defense game.

As always, it all starts in the middle with Big Jamal Williams.

Former teammate Jason Fisk, now with the Cleveland Browns, talked about how impressive Williams was in 2004.

"He's one of the strongest, most explosive, physical specimens that I've ever seen at that position," said Fisk.

With his ability to take on blockers, the linebackers are free to make the big hits at the line of scrimmage.

With his body in the middle and a fast, stable crop of linebackers, the Chargers allowed two runs of twenty-plus yards – tops in the NFL.

"We were able to keep the long run to a minimum last year," head coach Marty Schottenheimer agreed. "We would like to be able to maintain our efficiency against the run and improve our ability against the pass."

The ability of the team to prevent teams from grinding it out put more pressure on teams to pass last season. It is something the Chargers coaching staff is preparing for again this season – but they have more weapons to match up well in that facet of the game as well.

"If you are pretty good against the run, your passing numbers will go up," Schottenheimer reflected. "It is a bit of a catch-22."

Luis Castillo was brought in to help anchor the run defense and aid the pass rush. Shawne Merriman was hailed to supplement the pass rushing skills of Steve Foley. It was all part of the master plan.

Along with Igor Olshansky gaining momentum in his second year and improved play from the cornerbacks, the Chargers defense wants to make the ascent from 18th overall in the league into the top five.

It is a position that the team was quite familiar with in the past.

"I think we are going to be much improved in coverage and I am talking about rush in combination with the secondary play," said Schottenheimer.

Sunday the wheels begin to churn a bit faster. While Castillo will sit this one out, Merriman will make his debut. His progress in learning the position of linebacker is one of the main factors in the eventual success of landing a top five defense. That may be a lot for a rookie to take on but he is a physical specimen that could have a huge impact on the defense.

Imagine a passing down that lines up Olshansky, Jacques Cesaire and Castillo with Foley and Merriman on the outside. With Wade Phillips pulling the puppet strings a little more wildly this year it has the potential to mean increased pressure.

As the run defense evolves, so does the pass defense. And we all know that defense wins Championships.

Now you have the thinking of the 2005 San Diego Chargers pegged.


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