OAKLAND, CA - OCTOBER 06: Head Coach Mike McCoy of the San Diego Chargers looks on while his team warms-up during pre-game warm-ups prior to playing the Oakland Raiders in an NFL football game at O.co Coliseum on October 6, 2013 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
The first thing you look at with an NFL team at the bye week is the injury situation. The Chargers have been hit hard on the offensive line. Through seven games, they've used five different left tackles.
Depending on the status of King Dunlap, who is recovering from his second concussion in a month, it's looking like Nick Becton, an undrafted free agent from Virginia Tech who was signed at the end of September off the practice squad, may be starting at left tackle in Washington.
Good thing the Chargers coaching staff prepared for this kind of thing. During training camp, they made their linemen work at different positions to get a feel for how things go. They hoped they would not have to use the knowledge, but given the fact quarterback Philip Rivers has only been sacked 11 times, and running back Ryan Mathews has had back-to-back 100-yard games for the first time since 2011, when he went to the Pro Bowl, it's an awfully good thing they have it.
Defensively, the Bolts have not had a single linebacker start every game. The last two weeks they didn't have starters (and stalwarts) Donald Butler or Jarret Johnson. So defensive coordinator John Pagano improvised. His deepest position group is, of all things, safety. Pagano started putting four safeties on the field and increased blitz calls to try and force offenses into making mistakes.
So far the gambles have paid off. The Chargers have not allowed a touchdown for 10 consecutive quarters, and along the way they have been tremendous against the run.
They've faced Arian Foster, LeSean McCoy, Chris Johnson, DeMarco Murray and Trent Richardson, but the only two rushing touchdowns they've allowed have come from Eagles QB Michael Vick and Titans QB Jake Locker.
A mobile quarterback, that's the kind of weapon that continues to give the San Diego defense fits. That is exactly what they will be facing next week in Washington. Even if Robert Griffin III is not 100% healthy, he has the ability to present problems.
Good thing the Chargers have an extra week to get ready for it.