Defensive Woes

The Chargers have allowed more than 400 yards in four consecutive games, and six of the past eight, after not surrendering that number a single time in 2001.

The run defense, which has ranked in the top 10 every year since 1997, has allowed more than 140 yards rushing three times this month, including a season-high 222 to Miami on Sunday.

The Chargers rank 27th overall on defense, it's lowest since 1985. What makes it more disappointing is that the Chargers were No. 1 overall after the first two weeks. A testament to how far the mighty have fallen.

"Yeah, we know the numbers," defensive end Marcellus Wiley said. "It's been tough because we pride ourselves on good run defense, and some guys have run the ball effectively against us. And even in the passing game, they've had some pretty good yardage."

"We have not played over the past month the kind of defense necessary to put yourself to the standard that they once had here," Chargers coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "We have failed to execute certain things in coverage. We have failed to be in the proper discipline.

"Now, on one hand, you say, 'Well, we can fix it.' It certainly is something that can be fixed. What we've got to do, however, is go fix it."

The one thing that will certainly aid the cause this week is the return of emotional and on the field leader, Junior Seau. Seau missed the first game between these teams with an ankle sprain.

"Anytime you lose your captain and defensive leader, it has some impact," Schottenheimer said. "But he wouldn't have been involved in the punting situation or in the couple of interceptions thrown. Denver really outplayed us."

Mike Riley was fired after a total collapse last season and Schottenheimer was hired to make sure there were no more titanic collapses. He brings his attitude and mentality to the Bolts.

"Absolutely, that was the No. 1 objective," Schottenheimer said. "Quite frankly, we needed to learn how to win. And we have made some progress in that regard. But in our league anymore, if you don't play well you run the risk of getting beaten. So you're tested every week."

Now the test comes for the defense. At certain times this year the offense has been asked to respond and has responded with victories in tough situations. Now that same offense, which could be without Curtis Conway, needs the defense to come together and be a force. 400 yards against will spell certain doom almost every week. They must focus on being the team that was No. 1 in the NFL during the first two weeks of the season.

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