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Pressure and Tackling Primary Focus for Defense
Defensive Coordinator John Pagano’s message for the San Diego Chargers is a simple one. Since the moment the 2013 season ended, he’s preached two basic fundamentals that the team must improve upon heading into 2014. They are two areas he stresses to see as soon as this Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.
“Our biggest emphasis is we’ve got to go out, we’ve got to tackle well and we’ve got to put pressure on the quarterback,” he said. “It makes all those guys’ jobs a lot easier. It’s tackling and pressuring the quarterback. Those are two things we didn’t do a great job of last year. I thought we did late in the year that really changed for us. And getting the guys back healthy late in the year was big. But it’s just going out, making sure you’re technique, fundamentally sound, and (playing with) unbelievable effort. But those two things are things we need to do better as a defense.”
Pagano has kept a keen eye on every one of his defenders looking for improvement in those areas. That doesn’t figure to change any time soon.
“It’s always an evaluation process,” he explained. “Everybody is being evaluated from meetings, to how they’re practicing, to playing, to putting guys in situations that we know they can go in during the regular season and play next to a starter and do the things you want to do. You’re always evaluating those guys since training camp started. Since OTAs back in the spring, but it’s a good process. And you see guys really starting to develop. It’s a process that’s good for our defense.”
There is a chance that one of those players Pagano will keep an eye on this Sunday is Jason Verrett, who has yet to appear in a game this preseason. While it is still an unknown on whether he will be suiting up, the defensive coordinator knows what he wants to see out of the first round pick should he play.
“Just go out and play,” he said. “Have fun. He’s been having a lot of reps here in practice, but the first live action probably his nerves will be going a little bit. But that’s always about (seeing) first time action in an NFL game. It’s going to be exciting. I love to watch him play.”