Offseason departures not affecting Bolts 'D'

Posted Sept. 20, 2010 @ 4:37 p.m.
Posted By Michael Blunda

The Chargers may only be 1-1 on the season, but they can't blame their defense, which came up big in a blowout win over the Jaguars on Sunday.

San Diego picked off QB David Garrard four times in the first three quarters, causing Jacksonville to bench him. The "D" also recovered two Jags fumbles to force six turnovers in total. And the Jaguars did not find the endzone until the game's final minute, when the contest was already well out of reach.

SS Steve Gregory led the charge with 13 tackles, but CB Antoine Cason was the star of the day, picking off two passes and forcing a fumble. Brandon Siler, playing for the injured Stephen Cooper, also intercepted a pass, as did fellow ILB Kevin Burnett. And the run defense was extremely stout, holding one of the league's best in Maurice Jones-Drew to 31 yards on 12 carries. It was a dominant effort all around by the Bolts' defensive unit.

The PFW Spin

The Chargers' personnel losses on defense were expected to hinder them in 2010, but thus far, it has been exactly the opposite. Through two contests, they've been a top-10 "D" and have shown signs that they could be a special unit.

Two spots the club was unsure about, strong safety and No. 2 cornerback, have been strengths early on. Gregory has led the Bolts in tackles in each of the first two contests, and Cason has held up very well, demonstrating the ballhawking skills that made him a first-round pick in '08. And another potential hole, nose tackle, has been filled admirably by Antonio Garay. Outside of a 56-yard run by Chiefs RB Jamaal Charles in Week One, the defensive front has given up little on the ground.

Making San Diego's performance even more impressive is that it has been playing short-handed. OLB Shawne Merriman missed the first game with an Achilles injury and wasn't much of a factor on Sunday with just three tackles. Meanwhile, the "D" was without its top ILB, Cooper, in Week Two. When at full strength, the potential of this group is huge.

With the offense missing two key players due to holdouts, the Chargers might need the defense to carry them at times, and coordinator Ron Rivera's group has shown it can do just that. With their next four games all coming against weak offenses, San Diego's defensive unit should get a chance to really flex its muscle over the next month and show that this is still the team to beat in the AFC West.