Bolts Know Defense, Special Teams Must Get Better in a Hurry

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The Chargers gave up the third fewest points in the NFL a year ago, allowing a paltry 17.0 ppg. It marked the fewest the team surrendered dating back to 1992.

They allowed 38 to the Chiefs on Sunday.

The Bolts’ special teams didn’t fare any better. They allowed a 91-yard punt return to Tyreek Hill, had a fumble at their own two-yard line early in the fourth quarter and missed a 50-yard field goal that would have made it a one-score game with just over a minute remaining.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is it was only one game, and the Bolts have a chance to immediately put it in the rearview mirror as they prepare for Week 2’s game against the Buffalo Bills.

To do so, they must learn from their mistakes.

On defense, that means getting more pressure on the quarterback. The Chargers were one of the top teams in the league a year ago as their 47 sacks were tied for the fifth-most. Unfortunately, Derwin James’ sack of Patrick Mahomes in the second quarter amounted to their only one of the game.

“There were times we put some pressure on him, but it wasn’t enough,” said Head Coach Anthony Lynn. “When we did, he moved around and made a play. Anytime we gave him a chance to extend plays, he’s (comfortable). He did that all through his college days. We just didn’t get enough pressure on him.”

Browse through the best action photos from the Bolts regular season home opener against the Kansas City Chiefs.

At the same time, Jahleel Addae insisted the team didn’t do a good enough job tackling in the open field, especially against Hill. He pointed to one missed tackle on his end in the first quarter that led to a 58-yard touchdown.

“In an open field I’ve got to make that tackle and get a better angle,” Addae mentioned. “I felt like I did (but) he flattened it out and he took it towards more green. But at the end of the day I have to make the play. I’m the last line of defense. If he gets behind it, I need to drop him. As far as that, we were pretty solid, there were just a lot of missed opportunities in all three phases. It’s Week 1, so we can’t beat ourselves up. We definitely have to go back to the film, see what we did and correct it.”

Meanwhile, on special teams, the Bolts had a plan for how to contain Hill. It went for naught immediately after the speedster returned a punt the length of the field for a touchdown less than two minutes into the game.

“We punted it far left (because) we were trying to make it hard for him,” Lynn explained. “If he was going to come back across the field, surely someone could get there and make a play, but we didn’t get it done … We lost containment. We know he’s one of the fastest guys in the country, and we lost containment. He made us pay. That’s something we’ve emphasized. We knew Tyreek was going to be back there. He was back there last year (and) I don’t think he got 10 yards back there. We just didn’t execute today.”

Then there was JJ Jones muffed punt, which he picked up before being hit and fumbling it again, allowing the Chiefs to pounce on it deep in Chargers’ territory.

“Just didn’t make a play,” the rookie lamented after the game. “I need to secure the ball better. … I was trying to make a play to give my team a spark, but I have to secure the ball better.”

The beauty of the NFL is that teams have a chance to bounce back immediately from performances like the Bolts had on Sunday. As he’s emerged as a leader on defense, Addae has no doubt the team will do just that as they prepare for Buffalo.

“Eyes are in front of you for one reason, to look forward, not backwards,” he said. “So we’re going to continue to work, we have to learn from it and we hold ourselves to a high standard on this defense.”

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