The Chargers’ secondary has been one of their biggest question marks for a long time. They have put up excellent seasons (like in 2007) and horrible seasons (like in 2008 and 2009). A lot has changed over the last few months, so the question is: Where do they lie now?
Let’s break this down position by position.
Quentin Jammer is essentially the rock around which this group of players is built. Jammer has held down the right cornerback position longer than the other defensive backs have been in the league.
Let's make one thing clear right off the bat. Jammer is not a stats machine. He isn't going to put up a 10-plus interception season or have flashy and athletic plays like Antonio Cromartie had in 2007. Jammer has hands of stone, but that doesn't mean he isn't a good player. Quite the contrary, in fact.
Jammer has been extremely consistent, and definitely has the tools and talent to blanket some of the leagues top receivers. He may not be Nnamdi Asamougha or Darrelle Revis, but expect another good year out of Jammer. The pass rush should get a little better and the other members of the secondary should pick up their acts, so his load should be a little lighter.
A lot of people still have question marks in their minds when they think about Eric Weddle. While he has shown inconsistency at times, Weddle has also shown flashes of brilliance and he has a great presence in the backfield. He knows what he needs to do and he gets it done most of the time.
That having been said, he's not a Troy Polumalu kind of player. He'll make great plays, but he isn't the kind of guy that you can scheme a defense around.
Personally, I really like this guy. He is young and he has shown that he has a lot of potential. I expect him to improve this season, as he continues to grow within Ron Rivera's defense. Don't expect him to be an island, but don't expect him to be a turnstile either.
Starting a rookie is risky business. They are green, they are young, and it is impossible to predict how the pressures of professional sports will affect them.
The Chargers seem to have the utmost confidence in Darrell Stuckey, despite all of the weight on his shoulders. San Diego canned Kevin Ellison, in the wake of his vicodin arrest, the final show of their trust in Stuckey.
I like what I’ve seen from him when he played for Kansas, but his mechanics require a lot of refining before he becomes a true impact player. I expect teams to attack Stuckey, because he may be the only big hole in the secondary.
Right now this position is up in the air. I will rest with Antoine Cason right now, only because he has the media spotlight right now, and that makes it seem like the Chargers really have faith in him. By the time the regular season rolls around, Nate Vasher may be in this spot, but we'll ignore that for now.
Cason is lightning fast and has a lot of potential, but he has yet to tap it. He has a tendency to play soft and it almost seems like he looses focus some times.
A lot of San Diego fans are nervous about having him start, considering the fact that he lost his nickel back job during the regular season in 2009. However, Cason seems to have matured as a player and a person, and his consistent improvement should bode well for his roster spot and the Chargers as a whole. Don’t set your expectations too high, but don't think defenses will walk all over Cason. He'll put up a fight.
There are two keys to the performance of the Chargers' secondary in 2010. The first is the question of how they will continue to fit in with Ron Rivera. They have had a season and a half with Rivera under their belts, and this consistency at Defensive Coordinator should really help things.
The second key is the development of the pass rush. San Diego's defense showed an astonishing inability to get to the quarterback last year. Hopefully, with the addition of Cam Thomas to the defensive line, along with the continued improvement of Shawne Merriman from injury problems, there should be a little more pressure coming down on opposing quarterbacks, and thus, some more errant throws.
The Chargers have done the right things this offseason, and while San Diego’s secondary may not be top five in the league next year, expect them to be top 10. With another year under his belt and with more weapons at his disposal, Ron Rivera may finally have a good grasp on running this defense.