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Sun., Jul. 19, 2015 7:30 AM PDT
Defense Turning Heads
Heading into the season, the Chargers defense knew they were in for a tough task, facing two of the league’s most dynamic rushers over the first couple games in Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson. If the first two weeks of the season was a litmus test for the unit, it’s passed with flying colors.
They first bottled up McFadden for 32 yards rushing before limiting Johnson to just 17 yards on the ground.
“It starts for me with the defensive front,” said head coach Norv Turner following the game. “You look at those five guys that we’re able to dress and they’re outstanding. We talked a lot about having five outside linebackers that could roll in there and stay fresh. As a defensive front, we’ve worked awfully hard through camp and before camp at doing the things you need to do to be a good run defense. Some of these guys have grown up a little bit like Vaughn Martin who’s in his fourth year and Corey Liuget is in his second year. Then, we’ve got some young guys that are pretty darn good.”
The defense as a whole is proud of the energy and pride they’ve shown out on the field in limiting these two backs to a combined 49 yards.
“It’s a collective effort from the guys up front to the linebackers to the guys on the back end,” said Donald Butler. “And not only that, it’s the calls. Guys are focusing in and we’re able to get things done on the field. Darren McFadden and Chris Johnson are two elite running backs that we were able to control, so it feels good.”
Although they didn’t register any sacks on Jake Locker after recording three the week prior on Carson Palmer, the pass rush was effective. The team’s front seven constantly kept pressure on the Titans quarterback. Overall, the Bolts produced six three-and-outs and had a seventh drive end with an Eric Weddle interception on second down.
“When you get into second-and-long and third-and-long situations, that feeds right into what you want to do defensively,” said Weddle. “We pretty much outplayed them in every phase of the game…Any time you can get a three-and-out, it’s huge. It’s like getting an extra possession for the offense. I think the biggest thing is that we got them at the right times. Right before two minutes and coming out of half, those are momentum killers when you do that for the opposing team and you get them off the field.”
An impressive feat, the defense has only allowed two touchdowns over the first eight quarters of the season. As a result, the Bolts rank second in the NFL in point differential with a plus-36, trailing only Houston’s plus-40.
“I never get caught up in stats, particularly after two games,” said Turner. “But I’m excited with the way we’re playing defense and the improvements we made from week one to week two shows that we’re going to be a good team.”