A week after getting torched for four touchdowns and 396 yards by the winless Oakland Raiders and rookie quarterback Derek Carr, the Chargers defense is hunkering down and getting back to basics.
“We worked on getting to the quarterback as a front four,” said defensive end Corey Liuget. “Last week, the guy did have more time than any other quarterback we faced, but they did a pretty good job protecting up front.”
Next up is a new challenge in a Kansas City Chiefs squad that favors the run, but still has a quarterback who can make plays in Alex Smith.
“He’s running the system the way it’s supposed to be run,” Chargers coach Mike McCoy said of Smith. “The success he’s had all last year and the success he’s had this year, he’s very efficient … and his ability to make plays with his feet when things aren’t there.”\
While the Chiefs rank 29th in pass yards per game (197), Smith still brings a mobility the Chargers have not seen much of this season.
“We gotta make sure we’re tight on coverage and when he scrambles, we gotta have good rush lanes to minimize his plays, not only with his arm but with his feet,” McCoy said.
Liuget is confident his line mates can step up and put pressure on a Chiefs offensive line that has allowed 13 sacks this season.
“(Last week) we didn’t play to our standards, definitely,” he said. “We just gotta get back to it. We came out here to practice and got the bad taste out of our mouth."
They are also preparing for a big dose of the ground game from a team that ranks fourth in the league in rushing yards.
“We’re expecting to see Jamaal Charles carry the ball at least 20 times,” Liuget said. “He’s a heck of a runner. He’s a downhill runner.”
As for a secret weapon, the Bolts downplayed the impact of cornerback Brandon Flowers, who spent his first six seasons in Kansas City.
“Anytime you have players that come from other places and things like that, at times you’ll see something,” McCoy said. “But we’re putting our plans in and doing what we do.”
Added quarterback Philip Rivers: “Anything he can lend to the normal preparation, but certainly I’m not overdoing it.”