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Pagano: "We Have to Get Them to the Ground"

Posted Nov 21, 2013

The Bolts are pleased with their red zone defense but note a need to improve tackling.

It may sound overly simplistic, but the game of football is quite rudimentary. 

In the end, All that matters is the score: the amount of points you score and  the amount of points you give up.

On that note, the Bolts defense has done a relatively good job of keeping the opponents off the score sheet, ranking 11th in the NFL by allowing just 22.2 points per game.  One area the team has done well in so far has been red zone defense.  The times the opposition has gotten into scoring position, they’ve limited the damage to field goals instead of touchdowns most of the time.

“The team has done a great job down there,” said Head Coach Mike McCoy.  “One thing we’ve talked about as a team is that we’re going to play some good offenses and teams are going to move the ball from time to time.  But we’ve done a good job of holding teams to three instead of seven in the red area.  That’s a four point play.  You hold them to a field goal, that’s huge for us.”

Defensive Coordinator John Pagano reiterated the importance the red zone defense has been to the team, explaining how it’s a mindset his unit pays particular attention to.

“Any time defensively that we get out there (in the red zone), I think our mindset is we have to hold them to a field goal,” he said.  “We have had ups and downs this year with that. Our red zone defense has improved, especially even from last week. If you look at positives from that game, that would be one of them. We held them to one of three in the red area. I think they came in ranked fifth in the National Football League in scoring in the red zone. Being able to force teams to kick field goals has been a positive for us and keeping them out of the end zone is always our goal.”

While the Chargers are pleased with their red zone defense of late, one area they know they need to improve upon is their tackling and Pagano was quick to explain the improved effort needed  in that area.

“Have there been tackling issues? Dang right there has been,” he said. “Something these guys have to understand (is) that it’s proper leverage, it’s proper balance and it’s shooting your guns and making sure you wrap the ball carrier up. You can’t just ever assume in this league that the guy is going down. They have to go out there and make the play. It’s something we have done since training camp that we haven’t overlooked, but it’s something we need to keep working and keep improving on.”

Improved tackling, as well as their continued success in the red zone, ought to go a long way toward determining the Chargers success against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday. 

“They are explosive and when they hit that hole, they are going downhill and their offensive line does a great job,” Pagano said.  “Their run game schemes are very sound in what they do and how they attack. We have to do a great job of being in our gaps and being in position. We have to go out and tackle. We have to get them to the ground. They are very explosive and (Jamaal Charles) can change a game in a heartbeat. Our guys have played him before and we have to do a great job of containing him.”

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