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Analyzing the First Team Defense

Posted Aug 24, 2014

The Bolts wreaked havoc on the 49ers starting offense.

Playing consecutive road games against the NFC’s top teams from 2013 was a huge task for the San Diego Chargers.  After last week’s loss in Seattle, the Chargers first team defense was resurgent and played with a heightened level of intensity in Sunday’s game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Defensive Coordinator John Pagano mentioned how tackling and getting to the quarterback were two goals for this week’s game and the Bolts made good on Pagano’s request.  Head Coach Mike McCoy was pleased with how his defense was able to bounce back.

“The whole entire defense came ready to play,” McCoy said.  “We got embarrassed as a defense last week and we challenged them.  This is the type of defense we want to be.  Defensively, the way they got after the quarterback and the way they played the run is what we’ve got to do.”

Linebacker Donald Butler echoed his coach’s sentiments saying the team’s preparation mimicked their on-field success.

“I think last week we went too basic,” Butler said.  “This week, we game planned a little bit more and put the focus on stopping the run. It was good to be able to put the focus on something and then go out on the field and execute.  I thought it was an overall great team effort.  We had something to prove after last week. We didn’t play Charger football so it felt good to come out here and control the game.”

The defensive MVP of the day was none other than defensive end Corey Liuget.  He finished his game with four tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, two quarterback hits, one forced fumble and one pass defensed.  Liuget was brash in saying he felt last week’s performance was a wakeup call and was pleased with his and his team’s defensive performance.

“We came out and we tackled as a defense,” Liuget said.  “We did a pretty good job and executed what the coaches told us to do all week which was to tackle and be sound in our whole defense.  We were motivated as a team.  We got our butts kind of handed to us last week, and we knew we had to come into this game and tackle and make sure we got off the field.”

While his stats speak for themselves, Liuget made his presence known against some of the 49ers top offensive linemen including tackle Joe Staley and guard Mike Iupati. 

“San Francisco has one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, he said.”  “These guys are nasty and play the game the way it should be played and you’ve got to love them for that.  That’s one of the best offensive line groups and one of the most potent offenses.  To come in and play how we did defensively, I think it was excellent.”

49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick is one of the league’s toughest quarterbacks to bring down but the task was not too big for the Chargers’ defense.  Safety Eric Weddle forced a fumble as he tackled a scrambling Kaepernick and in the Niners’ next series, Liuget had a sack-strip.

“I just had a pretty good get-off,” he said.  “The offensive lineman jumped me but I used my hands and noticed I was free and that I had a shot at the quarterback.  I just took it and I tried to make sure I had as much production as I could on a play that was a sack-fumble.”

First-round draft selection, cornerback Jason Verrett, and linebacker Dwight Freeney saw their first game-action of the season Sunday.  Freeney’s was his first since last fall and had a monster tackle for loss on running back LaMichael James.

“It felt good. I hadn’t been out there since September, so for me, it’s good to go out there and feel how the body is against the other color,” Freeney said.  “Hitting the same color is one thing, but to go out there and play against a red jersey or whatever it is, it feels great.”

The NFC West is one the toughest divisions in the NFL and the Chargers will face them this season.  After today’s performance, Liuget is confident the Bolts can hang and win against their conference rivals.

“Seattle was a tough lesson and (Sunday) we learned that we can play pretty well against some of the best teams in the NFL.”

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