Stopping the run is a work in progress for Chargers

COSTA MESA (News4usonline) – Stopping the run has been an issue for the Los Angeles Chargers this season. The Chargers rank last in the NFL when it comes to playing defense against the run. The Chargers have given up over 162 yards on the ground per game thus far.

Chargers defensive coordinator Renaldo Hill said there is no one particular thing that has caused his unit to struggle against the run.

“It’s a combination of things, but at the end of the day, this bye week was great because it allowed us to zero in on the fundamentals,” Hill said. “Where we need to be, hand placement, where are the help-defenders. All of those things tie into good run defenses. Making sure we all play together in unison.”

Hill continued, “That’s when you see it express itself. You’re going to see runs that break, but the biggest neutralizer to that is guys running and getting to the ball. We have to make sure we tie all those things in together in order to be a better run defense.”

A preseason game between the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

In their Week 6 loss at Baltimore, Los Angeles surrendered 187 yards rushing. However, what the Chargers did do well was not allow quarterback Lamar Jackson and the Ravens to have too many explosive run plays.

“Going against that type of offense, you aren’t going to see that many types of run offenses like them,” cornerback Chris Harris Jr. said during the week as the Chargers prepare to take on the New England Patriots. “With the quarterback, a great fullback number 42 [Patrick Ricard], a great offensive line.

“This [Patriots] offense is totally different than playing a Baltimore offensive running game. Even compared to the Browns and the Cowboys, a lot of the other teams we have seen already, this is totally different. We feel confident to be able to finish strong the rest of the year.”

When you consider that through their first six games of the regular season that the Chargers have had to go up against three of the top four rushing attacks in the league, Los Angeles is pretty much done this season with dealing with the gauntlet of top running teams.

Although they square off against the Minnesota Vikings (No. 8 rushing the football) on Nov. 10, the Chargers don’t have to worry about facing another premier running team for the rest of the season. That has to be a big sigh of relief for Hill and his defensive unit.

The Los Angeles Chargers defense celebrates a stop against the Cleveland Browns. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

In short order, the Chargers have had to go against the No. 1 rushing team in the league in the Cleveland Browns, No. 2 Dallas Cowboys, and the Ravens (No. 4). Hill’s unit may have turned the corner in the road defeat to Baltimore. Sure, some would argue that giving up 187 yards on the ground is not exactly a recipe for turning things around.

The caveat here is that Jackson and the Ravens didn’t go crazy running the football.

“We’re taking it week by week, continuing to build,” Hill said. “We know where we sit in the NFL as far as the rushing. It’s going to be week-to-week and we just have to keep improving. We know one week won’t solve it; we know it’s going to be a process throughout the whole year. We’re going to stay on task with becoming a better run defensive team.”

Hill and his defense have another stiff challenge this week in the form of the New England Patriots. With Cam Newton at quarterback last season, the Patriots defeated the Chargers 45-0 at SoFi Stadium.

“That’s something I’m definitely thinking about,” Harris said. “That’s something I’m definitely reminded of — they kicked our butts last year. Everybody knows. They killed us on special teams — they beat us really bad in all three phases. Everybody knows that, and we are aware of what happened last year. We have to try to stop them because they’re gonna try and do the same thing.”

The Patriots have moved on from Newton. Rookie quarterback Mac Jones gives the Patriots a more multi-dimensional offense than the run-oriented offense New England ran last season under Newton. In a game played against the New York Jets last week, Jones and the Patriots put up 54 points in a landslide win.

Hill acknowledges that the versatility of the Patriots’ offense may cause some worrisome moments for his defense.

“We know it’s going to be really challenging,” remarked Hill. “Watching them last week, they were really clicking. [QB] Mac Jones was playing well; the running game was going so we know it’s going to be a tough task. But our guys are up for the challenge, and we’ll be ready to roll.”

Featured Image Caption: Los Angeles Chargers defensive lineman Jerry Tillery (99) gives chase to Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) during a game played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline