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Old 01-07-2009, 03:48 PM   #1
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Default The Myth of the Chargers improved defense

A familiar phrase I've seen bandied about by suddenly confident Charger fans goes something along the lines of "ZOMG our Dfenz is much better!!!!!1"

Ron Rivera and a healthy Jamal Williams are often cited as the catalysts and a few "stats" are quoted as the evidence.

As many of you might recall from the tedious willie parker debates, I've stressed the flaws of looking solely at total yardage stats and ignoring two critical factors--how/when the yardage was accumulated, and who it was accumulated against.

The Charges finished the season with a defensive DVOA of 10.7%, good for 22nd in the league. "But they've played better lately!" you say?

The Chargers Weighted DVOA, which completely discards the first 4 weeks of the season and discounts weeks 5-10, is 10.5%, good for 21st in the league. Vastly improved? Hardly.

Rivera was promoted after week 8, and since then the Chargers have faced KC twice, the steelers, oakland, tampa, atlanta, denver and Indy. The last 3 are top 10 offenses, but KC ranked 25th, Pitt 20th, TB 21st, and Oak 31st.

When you adjust for opponent and put the yardage totals in context, you see that the Chargers D is pretty much the same as it was before Rivera was promoted.

So how did they go from 4-8 to the second round of the playoffs if their D did not improve? In short, luck. The Chargers were unlucky earlier in the year, losing a close game at home on the final play against Carolina, and of course the Hochuli game. Luck was in their favor at the end of the year, when Denver choked at home to Buffalo and Dwayne Bowe dropped the onside kick. They've been a good team all year, but their incredible swings of luck gave an illusion of sudden improvement.

That being said, it's not as if our offense will put up 30 on them. Their defense is not much worse, if at all, than our offense and I expect a close game.
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Old 01-07-2009, 03:53 PM   #2
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Default Re: The Myth of the Chargers improved defense

I expect us to run the ball down their throats and then pass the ball very effectively (avoiding cromardie) and to score TDs instead of FGs this game. And our D will shut them down and we shall win. By 20.
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Old 01-07-2009, 04:04 PM   #3
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Default Re: The Myth of the Chargers improved defense

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I expect us to run the ball down their throats and then pass the ball very effectively (avoiding cromardie) and to score TDs instead of FGs this game. And our D will shut them down and we shall win. By 20.
You don't avoid Cromartie this year. You got at him. He's a mental midget who has been nothing but a liability on defense.

Yes. If Tomlin commits to the run and gets any significant yardage, the Steelers should "run" away with this one.
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Old 01-07-2009, 04:16 PM   #4
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Default Re: The Myth of the Chargers improved defense

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You don't avoid Cromartie this year. You got at him. He's a mental midget who has been nothing but a liability on defense.

Yes. If Tomlin commits to the run and gets any significant yardage, the Steelers should "run" away with this one.
Agreed.

As for running the ball, I'm expecting a stalemate. Our rush offense was 15th, their rush defense was 21st.

The key will be short yardage situations. We're not good enough to run the ball down your throat the whole game, but we need to pickup up the 3rd and shorts. Unfortunately we were 21st in power situations while your defense was 8th.
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Old 01-07-2009, 04:19 PM   #5
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Default Re: The Myth of the Chargers improved defense

if you look at the last time we played these guys...we had spaeth and mchugh blocking... Mchugh is not good at blocking and we still rushed for over 100 yds. I think with a healthy rested team in general, we will do even better. But Miller and Spaeth out there is def a bonus.
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Old 01-07-2009, 04:22 PM   #6
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Default Re: The Myth of the Chargers improved defense

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if you look at the last time we played these guys...we had spaeth and mchugh blocking... Mchugh is not good at blocking and we still rushed for over 100 yds. I think with a healthy rested team in general, we will do even better. But Miller and Spaeth out there is def a bonus.
Good point. The Chargers were terrible defending TE's this year and we still managed to rack up all that yardage WITHOUT miller in our first meeting. Ben should be looking Heath's way early and often.
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Old 01-07-2009, 05:58 PM   #7
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Default Re: The Myth of the Chargers improved defense

I honestly think we will see more of McHugh lead blocking for Parker and Moore in this game which will be great in getting them to the 2nd level.

I also expect to see Arians throw to the TE's -Hback, out of that same formation.
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Old 01-07-2009, 06:09 PM   #8
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Default Re: The Myth of the Chargers improved defense

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You don't avoid Cromartie this year. You got at him. He's a mental midget who has been nothing but a liability on defense.

Yes. If Tomlin commits to the run and gets any significant yardage, the Steelers should "run" away with this one.
They were saying that on the radio this morning (NFL Network). He may have had a more pedestrian year than last, but he's still a talented player. I wouldn't take him for granted if I were game planning.
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Old 01-07-2009, 06:23 PM   #9
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Default Re: The Myth of the Chargers improved defense

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They were saying that on the radio this morning (NFL Network). He may have had a more pedestrian year than last, but he's still a talented player. I wouldn't take him for granted if I were game planning.
They're being kind. Cro hasn't made a meaningful play all season. Super-Talented? Yeah. But the dude's football IQ shows that last year was the result of a lot of bad throws and lucky bounces.

He plays 15 yards off the ball, isn't physical at the LOS, and can't stop a slant pass to save his life.

He has, however, improved his tackling and is finally not afraid to get dirty.

I'd rather have the rookie, Antoine Cason in there. At least he plays like his life depends on it.
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Old 01-07-2009, 07:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: The Myth of the Chargers improved defense

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Actually a soft spot in an already- soft schedule. Oakland, Tampa Bay, Kansas City, and Denver. Collective record: 24-40
Their total offenses averaged 22nd in the league. Small wonder they assumed their defense was actually good. If I won a stretch of fights down at the old folks home, I might start thinkin' I was Chuck Norris too!
Still... the Steelers offense scored 9 pts on the Chargers terrible defense... and that was BEFORE the improvement we think we've seen.

So if they score 18 this weekend the game should still be pretty close.

At least that's how those of us disillusioned Charger fans see it.
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