The 2013 season marks John Pagano’s second year as defensive coordinator for the San Diego Chargers, and the first opponent appears to be as dangerous as any the Bolts will face this year.
The Houston Texans boast two-time Pro Bowler Matt Schaub at quarterback, three-time All-Pro and Pro Bowler Arian Foster at running back and six-time Pro Bowler and five-time All-Pro Andre Johnson at wide receiver. That’s just to name a few among a number of other offensive weapons.
“Good lord, all you’ve got to do is put on the offensive tape,” he said Thursday after practice. “Their offense is a big time challenge. They’re so explosive, number one (with) playmakers all over the board. Andre Johnson is probably playing at his finest level, and then with Owen Daniels and Arian Foster, they’ve got a one-two punch when (Ben) Tate comes in. Now they went out and signed Greg Jones and the ability to draft DeAndre Hopkins, they have such big play threats on their offense. Lining up the first play of defense is going to be a challenge for us, but it’s going to be exciting.”
Many believe Houston’s bread and butter on offense are the stretch runs that both Foster and Tate run so effectively. Pagano doesn’t disagree, noting how effective the Texans are when running that play correctly.
“They do such a great job in that system,” he said. “It’s something that over the year playing the Texans and playing offenses very similar to that running style, it’s a challenge. They go fast and they go hard to the sideline. They are almost built for it. (Offensive Coordinator)Rick Dennison has been coaching there a long time and does a great job with those guys. You’ve got to play with proper technique and fundamentals. The number one thing is they’re going to cut you and try to get you on the ground.”
So how can the Chargers successfully defend the Texans potent running attack?
“We’ve got to stay alive, be able to knock them back and play off of blocks,” he answered. “After defeating that, go tackle probably one of the premiere runners because (Foster) has got probably the best balance of any back in this league. He’s hard to truly get down with one guy, but his balance as you see him run, he doesn’t go down after one hit.”
Meanwhile, in the passing game, Pagano is asking his corners to play a physical brand of ball that he thinks suits their skillsets.
“All four of our corners are physical guys,” he said. “Those types of corners (are) big, physical ones that can run with receivers down field and make plays. Probably the biggest challenge for all those guys is you’ve got to win at the line of scrimmage. We’re asking people to get up there in press coverage and challenge receivers. That’s probably the toughest thing that they have going.”