Tackling woes plague Chargers' defense

If the San Diego Chargers want to win another game, they are going to have to do a better job of tackling.

Like the players and coaches who watched, the game tape was clear. Every time Larry Johnson and Tony Gonzalez touched the ball there was a lack of fundamental wrapping up.

"We are going to spend a lot of time on it," head coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "Eighteen missed tackles for an aggregate of 81 yards. It hasn't improved to the point that it must. We have to do even more.

"It is coming to balance in a position relative to your leverage. The momentum of your arms brings your torso and then you bring your feet. The one thing we need to do is before we take our shot is we have to get closer to them."

Gonzalez is undoubtedly a great tight end. He has been at the top of the pyramid for years. But the Bolts allow him to look better than he is.

"You've still got to double him and funnel cover him," said linebacker Donnie Edwards.

For all the talk of Edwards being the best coverage linebacker, Gonzalez has had his way with the San Diego defense and it includes a lot of yards after the catch.

Gonzalez, who caught 6 passes for 138 yards, had his biggest game since the 2004 season-ender against San Diego when the Chiefs threw to him 14 times for 144 yards.

"We had some miscommunications on the back end and I will take responsibility for that," safety Marlon McCree said.

But Gonzalez catching the ball isn't something you will always be able to take away. Limiting how much damage he does after the catch is vital.

When he caught the ball, the Chargers were more interested in trying to strip the ball from him than actually tackle him.

The run defense, so sturdy through the first five games of the season was at a loss. Perhaps it was the loss of Igor Olshansky at right end or perhaps it was the way Johnson bounced off would-be tacklers and got into the secondary.

Johnson, held to just 62 yards rushing in his previous two games, broke out against San Diego with 132 yards rushing (on 28 carries) with another 29 on two receptions.

San Diego has allowed just four 100-yard games since the start of the 2004 season, and Johnson has two of them. He had a 131-yard game against the Chargers last December.

The tackling, or lack thereof, was more evident in the Chiefs final game-winning drive. With 33 seconds on the clock, Damon Huard hit Johnson in the flat and the Chargers defense allowed him to run out of bounds, conserving a timeout in the process.

"If we tackle (Johnson) in the field of play we are going to be in overtime," a miffed Schottenheimer added. "There will be considerable time spent on the matter. We are going to get it fixed."

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