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Old 12-06-2004, 08:00 AM  
DaWolf DaWolf is offline
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How the Chargers fixed their D...

May or may not apply to us for next year, but interesting read...

Don't overlook Phillips, 3-4 defense for Chargers' success
Dec. 5, 2004
By Clark Judge

SAN DIEGO -- There are two big differences in this year's San Diego Chargers, and one of them is quarterback Drew Brees. But the other is a guy you didn't see and you didn't hear after Sunday's 20-17 defeat of Denver and whose notoriety stems from his experiences outside of San Diego.

I'm talking, of course, about Chargers' defensive coordinator Wade Phillips, who in one season has taken one of the league's worst defenses and turned it into one of its most opportune -- and I call Jake Plummer to the witness stand.

The Denver quarterback was intercepted a season-high four times -- including Jerry Wilson's game-clinching pickoff in the end zone in the game's closing minutes -- as the Chargers clinched their first winning season in nine years and moved a step closer to their first playoff spot since making it as a wild-card entry in 1995.

Heck, what are we talking about here? I don't care if coach Marty Schottenheimer and his players won't concede it; the Chargers are all but a lock for the playoffs. They're two games up on Denver in the AFC West with four games left, and only one is against an opponent with a winning record.

You can talk all you want about the contributions of Brees or running back LaDainian Tomlinson, but the club wouldn't be here without Phillips and his 3-4 defense. Yeah, Denver shredded it for 202 yards in the fourth quarter, and that's not good. But it held when it had to, with Wilson making a game-saving interception after cornerback Drayton Florence -- a guy making only his second start -- deflected a pass for Rod Smith.

"He defensed it perfectly," Wilson said of his teammate. "I just kept running to the ball. Good things happen when you do that -- at least that's what I was taught."

And good things keep happening to the Chargers, in the midst of a six-game winning streak. It's not all because of Brees, who failed to throw a scoring pass for the first time in five games, nor is it all because of Tomlinson, who had both San Diego touchdowns. Somewhere in there you have to make room for that defense, especially after what happened Sunday.

It stuffed Reuben Droughns. It frustrated Plummer. And it carried the Chargers to their biggest win of the year.

"I told you three weeks ago, 'Let's see where we are after the next three weeks'," said Schottenheimer. "My assessment is: We're a pretty good football team."

Sure, there are problems, like the team's failure to defend the deep pass, but let's save those for the Dec. 26 date at Indianapolis. For the moment, here's what I like about these guys -- they've forced 23 turnovers, four more than their total for last year, and are plus-12 in the takeaway/giveaway department.

But that's not all. They went into Sunday's game ranked 12th in overall defense and second against the run -- a huge leap forward from last year's 27th-ranked defense and a key reason why they should be taken seriously. Maybe it's the new 3-4; maybe it's new players. All I know is it wouldn't be possible without Phillips, and Phillips wouldn't be here without Schottenheimer.

"I got to thinking about the 3-4 defense a year ago because our defense wasn't doing well, and I didn't think we had enough defensive linemen we could count on," said Schottenheimer. "It made sense to go to the 3-4, and I think he's as good a 3-4 coach as there is. So that was really a no-brainer."

So how come we don't hear more about Phillips? Well, one reason is Brees. His story is compelling. The guy's a lame-duck quarterback, expected to be replaced by No. 1 draft pick Philip Rivers, yet he keeps winning and winning and winning. Another is that Phillips' contact with the media is restricted, just as contact with the rest of the coaching staff is. He's not available for interviews during the week or after games.

So what you see from his defense is what you're going to get from Wade, and what you saw Sunday was a defense that made the critical play when it needed it most.

"Wade Phillips means a lot to everyone on this team," said linebacker Steve Foley, who had one of the team's four interceptions. "We all look forward to seeing what he comes up with next."

What he's come up with this year is a defense that is second only to Pittsburgh at stopping the run and that hasn't allowed over 10 second-half points in its last six starts -- and, yes, that includes the 34-31 win over Kansas City where one of the Chiefs' two second-half touchdowns was a kickoff return.

"Let me tell you something," said Schottenheimer, who once coached the Chiefs, "they have five possessions in the second half, and on four of them they don't have a first down. They had 93 yards of offense on us in the second half. ... and it was in Kansas City!

"So why the 3-4? I used it extensively, in fact exclusively, for nine years in Cleveland and another three or four years in Kansas City. It is a defense that enables you first and foremost to defend the run because you have better athletes on the field -- guys who can run and take the big play away from your opponent. Once we went to the 3-4, we got Wade Phillips and then we acquired players to fit the thing."

And then they beat Denver on an extraordinary afternoon -- when it rained, when Brees was not effective and when tight end Antonio Gates was shut down. When that happens you better have more than Tomlinson to answer an opponent, and the Chargers do.

Only, I bet you can't name half of their starting lineup. Sure, there's defensive tackle Jamal Williams and linebacker Donnie Edwards. Cornerback Quentin Jammer and linebacker Randall Godfrey, too. But where do you go from there?

"That tells you we're a pretty good team," said wide receiver Keenan McCardell. "We're very humble around here, but we're getting better each week. And that's what good teams do."

Good teams run. The Chargers do that. Good teams don't make mistakes. The Chargers have done that. And good teams play defense. The Chargers do that, too. They just proved it again.

http://www.sportsline.com/nfl/story/7966452
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Old 12-06-2004, 08:22 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DaWolf
You can talk all you want about the contributions of Brees or running back LaDainian Tomlinson, but the club wouldn't be here without Phillips and his 3-4 defense. Yeah, Denver shredded it for 202 yards in the fourth quarter, and that's not good. But it held when it had to, with Wilson making a game-saving interception after cornerback Drayton Florence -- a guy making only his second start -- deflected a pass for Rod Smith.

"He defensed it perfectly," Wilson said of his teammate. "I just kept running to the ball. Good things happen when you do that -- at least that's what I was taught."
Not to take anything away from San Diego but this is simply wrong.

The pick was all Plummer. Just read an article on the RMN where the rat was saying a run play was called but Plummer changed the play to throw the fade route when he thought he saw bump coverage on the outside. In fact, he misread what was a zone, enabling the safety to get over onto the play.

And secondly, the ball was underthrown, should have been put where the reciever could get it and no one else, or thrown into the seats.

Good game and good run this year by San Diego, I'm rooting for them. This one might not have fallen their way except for a mistake at a critical time by Plummet.
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Old 12-06-2004, 08:26 AM   #3
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Speaking of the Chargers, I noticed Martyball rear it's ugly head in the second half, obviously in preparation for the playoffs...

Marty sat on that lead and stopped attacking the 2nd half and thanks to Plummer pulled that game out. Brees got killed by Lynch and had Denver come up with the ball, it would have been a classic Marty play-not-to-lose losing effort yesterday.

It was good to see Marty return to form in a big game. Should be fun watching them flame out in the playoffs.
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Old 12-06-2004, 08:30 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCTitus
Speaking of the Chargers, I noticed Martyball rear it's ugly head in the second half, obviously in preparation for the playoffs...

Marty sat on that lead and stopped attacking the 2nd half and thanks to Plummer pulled that game out. Brees got killed by Lynch and had Denver come up with the ball, it would have been a classic Marty play-not-to-lose losing effort yesterday.

It was good to see Marty return to form in a big game. Should be fun watching them flame out in the playoffs.
From what little I saw of the game, they did nothing to protect Brees from a blitz to the left. It happened over and over and over. That reminded me of Martyball.
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Old 12-06-2004, 08:43 AM   #5
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Old 12-06-2004, 08:47 AM   #6
Baby Lee Baby Lee is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCTitus
Speaking of the Chargers, I noticed Martyball rear it's ugly head in the second half, obviously in preparation for the playoffs...

Marty sat on that lead and stopped attacking the 2nd half and thanks to Plummer pulled that game out. Brees got killed by Lynch and had Denver come up with the ball, it would have been a classic Marty play-not-to-lose losing effort yesterday.

It was good to see Marty return to form in a big game. Should be fun watching them flame out in the playoffs.
And it's nice to see a return of the punk-ass "if Marty wins, he was lucky, but if he loses it was preordained" mantra.
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Old 12-06-2004, 08:52 AM   #7
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And it's nice to see Martystalker still "has his back".
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Old 12-06-2004, 08:53 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baby Lee
And it's nice to see a return of the punk-ass "if Marty wins, he was lucky, but if he loses it was preordained" mantra.
It's nice to see the return of the "Titus nailed it and I got nothing but name calling".

Find "Luck" or "preordained" anywhere in my post and you might have a case.
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Old 12-06-2004, 09:03 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCTitus
It's nice to see the return of the "Titus nailed it and I got nothing but name calling".

Find "Luck" or "preordained" anywhere in my post and you might have a case.
Nailed what? If this, if that. If, if, if. Marty would've lost like I knew he would, . . . If.
You might want to check the scoreboard. They took the best from a quality team and effectively ended their high hopes, possibly the entire Shannarat era.
"If things had been different things would have been different" is a tautology, not a stance.
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Old 12-06-2004, 09:10 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baby Lee
Nailed what? If this, if that. If, if, if. Marty would've lost like I knew he would, . . . If.
You might want to check the scoreboard. They took the best from a quality team and effectively ended their high hopes, possibly the entire Shannarat era.
"If things had been different things would have been different" is a tautology, not a stance.
Feh...Im not talking about the scoreboard, I was talking about the STYLE of play in the 2nd half...It's your brand of football, you know, sit on the lead and hope to God the other team implodes. Good thing for Marty, Jake was on the other side.

Yep, Marty won...that's great Im happy for you and Marty, but he reverted to the old form that was his downfall here. He didnt do that last week, even Im willing to admit that. They kept attacking the whole game.

During NFL Primtime it was discussed that 'martyball' did show up in the 2nd half. I thought I was the only one that noticed.

Sorry I gave you sandgina over this.
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Old 12-06-2004, 09:13 AM   #11
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Yeah, I loved Marty S. when he was here and all. But I'm still not convinced that he will not go into a shell come playoff time and flame out. I guess we'll have to wait and see.
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Old 12-06-2004, 09:14 AM   #12
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Oh and as for the article, I don't see us having the LBs capable of running a 3-4 defense.
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Old 12-06-2004, 09:15 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KCTitus
Feh...Im not talking about the scoreboard, I was talking about the STYLE of play in the 2nd half...It's your brand of football, you know, sit on the lead and hope to God the other team implodes. Good thing for Marty, Jake was on the other side.

Yep, Marty won...that's great Im happy for you and Marty, but he reverted to the old form that was his downfall here. He didnt do that last week, even Im willing to admit that. They kept attacking the whole game.

During NFL Primtime it was discussed that 'martyball' did show up in the 2nd half. I thought I was the only one that noticed.

Sorry I gave you sandgina over this.
We rag on the Chiefs for abandoning a quality running game when behind, AND we rag on Marty for sticking with the best RB after Priest with a lead. Hooray for us, we can rag on anything that happens without regard to principle. Difference is, Marty wins and DV loses.
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Old 12-06-2004, 09:21 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Baby Lee
We rag on the Chiefs for abandoning a quality running game when behind, AND we rag on Marty for sticking with the best RB after Priest with a lead. Hooray for us, we can rag on anything that happens without regard to principle. Difference is, Marty wins and DV loses.
What in the hell are you talking about?

Im pretty sure we've had this discussion a time or two before, but you should know I dont want any HC that doesnt ATTACK offensively at all times.

If DV ever did anything like what Marty did yesterday, I would be livid and you know that.

I cant believe you're so bent about this...I obviously am right about Marty's return to martyball yesterday.
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Old 12-06-2004, 09:31 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by Lzen
Oh and as for the article, I don't see us having the LBs capable of running a 3-4 defense.
At current we don't, no doubt. I'm not sure if it is going to happen with this team. I think DV and Gun prefer the 4-3 anyway, and DV likes our DL (at least publicly, and much more than I do anyway). So unless we stock up heavily on linebackers this offseason, I'm not thinking that style will fit us. What does fit IMO is that the chargers went out and signed a bunch of people who aren't really big names, some guys off the scrap heap, and put them in a defense that fit Phillips has designed around their skills and they are playing solid, fundamental football. I think that if the front office is smart, they could fix the D this offseason by doing the same thing. We don't need to overpay or sign every big name out there, we can address both sides of the ball if need be. It is definitely possible to fix this thing in one offseason as the Chargers have proven. The problem is they went out and did it, while we sat on our asses with the same players...
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