Their record and play in the fourth quarter doesn’t reflect it, but the Chargers’ defense has improved from last year. It entered the bye ranked 13th in the league and third against the run thanks to an aggressive front seven.
“The biggest change is that we had an opportunity for an offseason together,” veteran LB Takeo Spikes told PFW prior to Week Six. “The personnel changes that we made on defense and the additions that we added (also helped the improvement).”
Spikes, who has 30 tackles on the season, also credited new defensive coordinator John Pagano, for “holding everybody accountable to understanding not only what you have to do but why you have to do it.”
The unit has stopped the run well, and looked formidable in three wins, but it has broken down late in losses to the Saints and Broncos. San Diego has been outscored 31-0 in the fourth quarter of those games. While the offense might focus on being conservative and running the ball more to avoid turnovers, we hear that the defense could look to be more aggressive after the bye, especially to increase sack numbers.
As a team, the Chargers have 10 sacks, which ranks near the bottom of the league, and 4½ of those have come from one player, OLB Shaun Phillips. Pass rushers Melvin Ingram, Larry English and Antwan Barnes (a combined 1½ sacks) haven't been getting to the quarterback enough. The edge rushers could stand to match the success we have seen thus far from the run stoppers.
- Takeo Spikes