Is there a lightning storm brewing in San Diego? From what we’ve seen in the last couple of weeks, this seems to be the case. That dominant Chargers defense that we saw take form two seasons ago seems to be reborn.
Merriman, out most of last season, was obviously a big chunk of the defensive picture for San Diego, a necessary piece of the puzzle for their signature “lights out” pass rush. This rang true as the Chargers dropped in their 2008 sacks, and the rest of the defense seemed to lack energy and production as well. It’s clear that Merriman is the leader of the San Diego D, always being the center player in the pregame pep talk.
Many people speculate that they are a team that is not cut out to make it all the way to that big game in February. They point fingers at the coaching staff, the aging LT, and the defenses’ production last season. But things seem to be changing this season.
Merriman has had two sacks in each of his last two games. Tomlinson hasn’t had outstanding stats yet, but he’s been showing that ever-dangerous LT cut he’s executed throughout his career. He’s making defenders scamper, stumble, and miss when he gets the ball now. This is very good for the Bolts’ offense since him and Darren “Lightning Bug” Sproles are lightning-quick for the run game, not to mention the spectacular rise of their passing game under Rivers.
On the other side of the defensive line from Merriman sits Phillips. They worked together in the 2007 season to electrify their opponents with their pass rushing skills. They led the league in sacks, and were a nightmare for any quarterback. This is happening again as the season has reached its halfway mark. Phillips and Merriman are getting back to their old ways, which makes it a bit easier for San Diego’s secondary to capitalize off any hurried throws or throws deflected as the quarterback gets ran over by the two beastly outside linebackers.
The Chargers showed they are back in full swing and mean business when they pulled off a 21-20 win over the Giants this past Sunday. They have gone from a 2-3 record to a current 5-3, now only one game behind their divisional rival Broncos. Will they be able to keep the momentum going all the way ‘til that game in February that they long so badly for?
The road to the playoffs won’t be the worst they’ve ever seen, but it does certainly have its obstacles. They face Philadelphia this week, then in week 12 they face the rival Broncos. Unfortunately, the Broncos have an easy opponent this week against the Redskins, despite Denver on a current two game losing streak. If the Bolts can beat the Eagles at home, and then beat Denver in week 12, it would in fact put them into a 1st place tie with Denver in their division.
It’s feasible to see San Diego take the division title for the fourth year in a row, they’ve just got to keep doing what they’re doing. As for the rest of the season, the Chargers have three lighter games (Chiefs, Browns, and the Skins), as well as three more difficult games (Cowboys, Bengals, and the Titans). As for the Broncos, their schedule is equally as evened out. The only difference: the Bolts are hot, the Broncos are not.