Legendary coach Vince Lombardi swore that a good offense will win games, but a good defense will win a championship for you.
Well, defense requires better athletes, a better gameplan and better in-game adjustments than any other facet of football.
It’s no secret that the New England Patriots and Tom Brady love to throw the football. It seems they set up the pass with the pass. They’re a well-oiled machine, as Brady is as confident as I have ever seen him throwing the football. His reads and adjustments are flawless.
So, I’ll ask you one question. How do you slow down the Pats high-powered passing attack?
The Chargers will see plenty of the three-wide/two-TE offensive set from the Patriots all afternoon long. They will need to substitute one of their inside linebackers with a third safety to help with hook zone coverage or follow the tight end downfield. Head coach Bill Belichick loves to hit the jackpot on the deep route, but he makes his money with the short passing game. It’s all about precision timing and execution.
The key this week for the Chargers is disrupting Brady’s timing. You can still maintain a consistent pass rush with four or five players, as the defensive line must keep their hands up and not allow him to have a clear, open passing lane to throw the football. Not having DE Luis Castillo in the starting lineup will hurt, but it’s time for DE Vaughn Martin to step up his game.
Last week, the secondary was outstanding, as CB Antoine Cason emerged as a shutdown corner. In this new defensive scheme, the Pats short routes should be taken away by the corners, as they will release defending the middle of the field to the safeties.
S Bob Sanders will make their receivers pay for catching any pass over the middle. I feel moving CB Quentin Jammer to the third safety position will give the Chargers an extra hitter to defend the short underneath passing game. Playing in this scheme will help judge the skills of Dante Hughes and Marcus Gilchrist, as each should receive plenty of playing time on Sunday.
The Chargers need to be careful of Brady having pre-determined audibles to neutralize this alignment. But, if they have good balance on the field then this defense can be effective against the pass or run.
On Sunday, the Chargers will find out how good a pass defense they really have against the Patriots.