Michael Lombardo: Olshansky is in Line for the Bigger Payday
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Igor Olshansky and Luis Castillo are both solid players, but Castillo definitely deserves the larger contract. His contributions go much further than the box score. In order to see his impact on a game, just look to last season's 35-17 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, in which rookie RB Adrian Peterson ran wild for an NFL-record 296 yards.
Before Castillo got hurt only nine seconds into the second half, Peterson carried 13 times for 49 yards, for an average of 3.76 yards per carry. However, as soon as Luis was off the field, Peterson had the game of his life. He proceeded to rip off a 64 yard touchdown run on his very next carry on his way to 247 yards on 16 carries with Castillo on the sidelines. That's a ridiculous average of 15.43 yards per carry.
Castillo is an integral cog in the Chargers defense. While he is a relatively strong pass rusher (read: Castillo's sack and forced fumble of Jay Cutler when the Broncos were in the red zone on Christmas Eve), his biggest impact is in stopping the run. He holds up well at the point of attack and makes it much easier for his teammates to swarm to the ball and make plays.
Olshansky is a stout run defender, as well, with nearly unrivaled strength, and certainly deserves a new contract as a solid player and fan favorite. But Luis Castillo is as important to the Chargers defense as any other player, if not more so. Just seeing what the team is like without him on the field should be enough to inspire enough fear in A.J. Smith to sign him to a large, long-term deal as soon as possible.
The reason Igor Olshansky is more valuable than Luis Castillo can be summed up in one word: dependability. Olshansky has played at least 13 games in each of his first four seasons and has started all 16 games twice, including last season when he set career-highs with 49 tackles and 3.5 sacks.
Although Olshansky doesn't post eye-popping numbers, the work he does in the trenches in invaluable. He is a superior run defender who is stout at the point of attack and disciplined in sealing off the backside of plays. He plays with excellent leverage and often drives offensive linemen into the backfield.
What really sets Olshansky apart is his world-class strength. Prior to the 2004 draft, he put up 43 repetitions of the 225-lb. bench press at his Pro Day. When he unleashes that strength via his 6-foot-6, 309-lb. frame, he becomes the prototype defensive end for a 3-4 scheme.
Olshansky's incredible physical condition also allows him to quickly bounce back from injury. In 2006, Olshansky tore his left MCL in the season opener and returned to play just three weeks later. In 2005, he injured two tendons in his ankle and missed only one game.
Another area where Olshansky has an edge over Castillo is attitude. Olshansky plays with a nasty demeanor that inspires his teammates and intimidates his opponents. Olshansky talks a big game on the field and -- often times -- off the field, as well.
Here is what Olshansky told San Diego's NBC Channel 7 after a 2006 game against the Denver Broncos: "If they play smash-mouth football and run powers and leads, those guys are wussies and won't be able to do nothing."
Comments like that fire up a locker room. And you'll never hear them come out of Castillo's mouth.
Readers Chime In
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