The San Diego Chargers have faced a number of staunch defenses this season, and this week’s opponent figures to be right up there in presenting a stiff challenge for the Bolts offense.
Having to go up against Kansas City’s defense twice a year,
“We obviously know what they are capable of, he said. “If you didn’t watch a snap on film, you would already know what a tough challenge they present. Then you watch them on tape and they live up to all the hype. It’s a good group and they are even better at home. We are going to have to play a lot better than we have played the last couple of weeks to go get a win.”
The Chiefs defense ranks at or near the top of every major statistical category. Most importantly, they rank second in points allowed per game with 13.8, just 0.3 behind the Carolina Panthers while also leading the league in sacks per game (3.6) and third down efficiency (27%). They have forced 24 turnovers with 12 interceptions and an NFL high 12 fumbles recovered. Even more dangerous is the fact that they’ve returned six of those turnovers for touchdowns, which is also tops in the NFL.
“There are a lot of good players in this league, but (the Chiefs) have a lot of talented players,” said Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt. “They’re playing their scheme well. They give you a lot of different looks and one of the things that stands out is that they’ve created some turnovers.”
To indicate just how potent Kansas City’s pass rush can be, their defense has not gotten a sack in the last two weeks, yet still manage to lead the league in sacks per game. Leading the way is Justin Houston, who’s 11.0 sacks rank third in the NFL, and Tamba Hali, who ranks sixth with 9.0 sacks. Needless to say, it’s no surprise the Chargers are paying special attention to their opposition’s ability to get to the quarterback.
“I think you have to mix things up as far as your protection goes,” Whisenhunt said. “Let’s face it, you’ve got to win some of those one-on-one matchups because they do a nice job of creating them, like bringing an extra guy and forcing you to be in one-on-one matchups. So we’ve got to mix in some of the things we do in the run game and the pass game to try to keep situations from happening where we can hopefully keep them from getting a sack.”
The Chiefs pair their dangerous pass rush with a stingy secondary that excels at press coverage. Whisenhunt also addressed the manner in which Kansas City’s defensive backs play the receiver.
“These guys play a lot of press,” he said. “That’s always a challenge when you go against teams that do that if you’re not used to doing it. You work and prepare for it and you expect to have success against it on game day. So they’re going to win some battles and we’re going to win some battles. Hopefully we’ll win some of our share.”