The San Diego Chargers have had major defensive problems this year. They currently are ranked 23rd in rushing yards allowed and 28th in passing yards allowed. The pass defense has been especially worrisome because the team has been ranked so terribly even with games against the Tennessee Titans (24th in passing), the Oakland Raiders (30th), and the Jacksonville Jaguars (19th). Now the team is about to face the Denver Broncos, led by Peyton Manning, who will be sure to pick apart the defensive unit. The defense also rarely forces turnovers, tied for last with the Houston Texans with five takeaways on the year. The dismal defense has put immense pressure on the offense to carry the team to win games.
Despite all of this, there is reason to be optimistic about this Chargers defense. First and foremost, they have been looking better in the more recent weeks. In their past three games the Chargers have only given up three touchdowns. This shows that even though they struggled initially, there might be some hope for the rest of the season.
Second, the Chargers defense is incredibly young. Only one starter on the defense, Jarret Johnson (32), is over the age of 28. The remainder of the team is incredibly young and still has a number of years left in the NFL. The team will be able to grow together and improve significantly over the next few seasons. In addition, multiple starters on this unit have never been starters until this season. Being a starter is a huge shift from coming in as a substitute or playing special teams. These players are being matched up with Pro Bowl caliber players that they rarely had to face previously. In the next few weeks, but mainly next season, these new starters will become more confident and more aware in their position making the weak spots on the defense not so weak.
Finally, the Chargers offense is looking great this year. The offensive line is coming together much better than expected and the run game actually is a legitimate run game with the Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead combination. This means that in the offseason, the Chargers main focus will be to improve what should be an already improving defense. They can use their first round pick to take cornerback or safety and maybe sign a veteran player in free agency. With two new playmakers alone, this defense could go from the bottom half of the NFL to the top without question.