Last week, I clearly indicated that nothing in the game would matter if we didn’t take care of business up front. Both Tyronne Green and Nick Hardwick held their own in the trenches and ultimately we got the result we wanted, not much punishment for Philip Rivers.
This week, we have Tennessee coming into town for the home opener. Although, they were ran off the field last week at home versus New England, they have a lot of talented players over there. Tennessee is widely known for their defensive line rotation and any team that is deep at that position should be given a chance, especially with uncertainty on our line.
Here are a few areas you should consider watching this Sunday, as I feel they will be the most important to the outcome of the game:
Titans Left Side vs Chargers Right Side:
Tennessee will man Steve Hutchinson – easily one of my favorites over last decade – at Left Guard and Micheal Roos at Left Tackle. Our right side is Corey Liuget and Jarret Johnson. On paper, Tennessee has the advantage but the play of Liuget recently has me believing he can handle that duo. Hutchinson is hands down the best offensive lineman on the Titans, so you can bet the majority of Chris Johnson’s runs will be ran behind him. It is extremely important Liuget has success often and early, as it can really disrupt the rushing scheme and go a long way in regard to slowing Johnson down.
Example: Titans call a Blast Left, designed to go between LG and LT (3 hole). If Liuget is losing his battle then Roos will single block him and Donald Butler will have to worry about Hutchinson at the second level (right at the snap), that would be good for about 4-6 yards a pop. At that point, Johnson would have no shot at Chris Johnson. If Liuget is solid in his gap assignment, Hutchinson will have to chip him first before releasing to second level. That will give Butler time to fill gap, meet Hutchinson at the line of scrimmage. This should redirect Chris Johnson out of the three hole, running right into Jarrett Johnson, who will be coming off of edge.
8th Man in The Box vs Chris Johnson:
Atari Bigby was solid last week as he played very well in the “centerfielder” role. Eric Weddle stayed snugged to the line of scrimmage as it was obvious Pagano’s highest concern was McFadden. I expect a similar game plan today as it will be extremely important that we stop Chris Johnson before he gets going. If Chris Johnson gets to the second and third level, with a full head of steam, we are in trouble. No one in our secondary is capable of running him down or stopping him in an open field situation. The man assigned the position, Weddle or Bigby, must stop him and stop him early.
In addition to containment on Johnson, that 8th man will also man Titans’ tight end Jared Cook on the play action passing. Not that it will be a tough task – I think it favors us – it’s just something to keep an eye on.
As always, thanks for reading. Feel free to comment below.