San Diego Chargers Run Defense Is Back in Business to Stuff AFC West Runners

Ian PhilipAnalyst IIIAugust 11, 2012

The Chargers' young beasts are ready to eat up runners all season.
The Chargers' young beasts are ready to eat up runners all season.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

The Bolt is back! 

Okay, in the first preseason game it seemed to be back. Back when Jamal Williams, Igor Olshansky and Luis Castillo were in their prime, there was no running the ball on the San Diego Chargers.

One by one, those studs turned to duds and the run defense got to a point where big, slow backs could steamroll the inexperienced and undersized San Diego defensive line. Veterans like Antonio Garay and Jacques Cesaire tried their best, but at the end of the day guys like Steven Jackson and Michael Bush still had their way with this defense.

The secondary's play slipped as they were forced to devote as much time to watching running backs as they were watching wide receivers and tight ends.

After watching the first-team guys go out and make a mockery of the Green Bay Packers' rushing attack, the Chargers may return to the top of the defensive rankings sooner rather than later.

Green Bay doesn't have the greatest running game, but they are a well-coached, well-oiled machine. Every time one of their runners seemed poised to break through, there was a Chargers defender in position to make the stop and he made it.

The Packers were running into a brick wall.

I saw the veteran, Takeo Spikes, doing what he was supposed to do out there in the middle of the defense. He brought a runner to an abrupt halt during what would have been a huge run last season.

That's the type of trend that carries over into the regular season. On top of that, it was San Diego's young players winning the battle at the line of scrimmage. Corey Liuget and big Cam Thomas caught my eye.

Those guys were in position and forcing the running back to go in directions he didn't want to go.

The Packers had the same amount of success against the Chargers run game, with both teams holding the other to just 2.3 yards per carry, but San Diego's runners made silly cuts and mistakes all night.

Other than that ridiculous fumble on their first drive, the Packers running backs made sound decisions. There were just too many Chargers defenders staying where they were supposed to. That type of discipline hasn't been seen in San Diego in at least five seasons.

New defensive coordinator John Pagano has made an early statement that he was the right man for the job all along. 

This defense appears to be well-coached. If this continues, the Bolts may returned to the top of the defensive rankings sooner, rather than later. Remember, they are only a year removed from being the top-ranked defense using smoke and mirrors. It looks like each man has looked in the mirror and brought the fire where there was smoke.

I believe in these guys.