For all the questions surrounding Philip Rivers and the San Diego Chargers’ offense this training camp, the defense may have the most to prove. The team has lost several veterans and is going through a youth movement. There would appear to be a lot of potential on the defense, but what will that potential materialize into?
Here are the three biggest questions facing the Chargers’ defense:
1) Who is the leader of the defense?
Every great defense has a leader that the rest of the players can look to. Who can step up and lead this young squad to victory? Dwight Freeney is a veteran presence who has played in two Super Bowls and knows what it takes to win; however, leaders are normally home grown talents. Linebacker Donald Butler is starting to come into his own but no one knows whether he can be a leader?
Leaders are not appointed by coaches; they tend to just rise up out of the pack. If the Chargers plan on making any noise on defense this season someone has to take over the leadership mantel.
2) Will Manti Te’O impress?
Anyone expecting Te’O to come in and be the second coming of former Charger great Junior Seau is sorely mistaken. Te’O has question marks about his game, that’s why he went in the second round. His intangibles are reportedly off the charts but the question remains: Can he run with NFL running backs and tight ends? If he can, he could end up as a steal as a second-round pick. If he does not, the middle of the Chargers’ defense could be in for a long season.
3) How good can the young secondary be?
Cornerbacks Derrick Cox and Shareece Wright do not exactly send fear down opposing wide receivers’ spines. Wright, who is a former USC Trojan, is entering his third year in the league and has yet to notch an interception. Safeties Eric Weddle and Marcus Gilchrist are considered respectable but not necessarily game-changers.
Any defense wants to take the ball away as much as possible. The Chargers’ defense will be looking for playmakers to cause turnovers to give their offense more opportunities.