Wednesday, December 9, 2009

What the Browns Game Shows

Well, the Browns are terrible, and the Chargers let them look like a legitimate NFL team. I know San Diego had numerous injuries and rookies playing in key positions, but the lack of fire and key breakdowns to begin and end the game should be concerning to the team and fans.

The running game is absolutely broken. If the Chargers can't run the ball against the horrible and Shaun Rogers-less Browns, they can't run it against anyone. While LT may not be as quick as he once was, he's not the problem. The schemes, the coaching, the attitude, and the players are just not clicking. San Diego is last in the league in this category and the old excuses provided by the local media ("they faced a tough defense this week" and "they're stacking the box") just don't hold any water. The opposing team is consistently in San Diego's backfield.

This is important going into the playoffs and final three games of the season as better teams who will try to dominate time of possession. The Chargers will be unable to match up against a team in this way. Sometimes the passing game gets shut down. Teams that win in the playoffs can run and pass.

The other side of the coin is the run defense. The average yards per carry against the San Diego defense is simply too high. At some point an opposing coach realize this and stick with the run throughout the entire game. If the Dolphins, Broncos (in SD), Eagles, or Giants had realized this, they might have won their games against San Diego.

Going forward, the Chargers desperately need Shawne Merriman to get healthy and provide some stout run support. Larry English was fast and aggressive last week, but he seems to get pushed around by the offensive tackles he's going against. The platoon of rookies and journeyman defensive tackles have been playing above themselves, but we shouldn't be surprised if they get exposed by a strong offensive line.

All this shows why this week's game against Dallas will be such an important test. Dallas will try to run the ball and test this defense. I can't believe that Wade Phillips won't understand and the exploit these weaknesses better than any other coach. If the Chargers can't run the ball consistently, they will be forced to use the big play to stay in the game, giving DeMarcus Ware and company a chance to test the San Diego pass blocking.

Without Eric Weddle and Shawne Merriman, this game may be beyond the Chargers' reach...unless something changes and some other players step up.

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