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Old 11-01-2006, 11:46 PM
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joelbolt joelbolt is offline
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Default San Diego pass rush a concern for Browns

San Diego pass rush a concern for Browns
By JEFF SCHUDEL

Special to The Inde

The player Kellen Winslow Jr. refers to respectfully as ‘a beast’ won’t play Sunday. Unfortunately for Charlie Frye and his Browns teammates, the rest of the Chargers’ second-ranked defense is eager to pick up the slack.

Shawn Merriman, the NFL leader with 8.5 sacks, decided to drop his appeal of a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s steroid policy. By serving his suspension starting Sunday, Merriman is assured of playing in the San Diego-Denver game Dec. 10 in San Diego. He will be serving the third game of his punishment when the Chargers and Broncos meet in Denver on Nov. 19.

Right tackle Kelly Butler, wide as a road and tall as an oak, is shedding no tears. Merriman would have been left tackle Kevin Shaffer’s responsibility on most plays, but San Diego coach Marty Schottenheimer moves Merriman around, so there would have been times when Butler would have been responsible for keeping him off Frye. But now Butler, playing because Ryan Tucker is still out with an undisclosed illness, doesn’t have to worry about that anymore.

“They have some phenomenal pass rushers, with or without Merriman,” Butler said. “They have Shaun Phillips and Luis Castillo. I’m not going to focus on Merriman; I’m focusing on what is there.

“I’m going against Castillo and Phillips. We have to stay out of third-and-long, because they’ll blitz. They’re physical and emotional. It will be a good challenge to see where we are as a team.”

Castillo is the left defensive end and Phillips the left outside linebacker. Phillips has a calf injury and will not start against the Browns, Schottenheimer said. Marques Harris is replacing Phillips and Carlos Polk is replacing Merriman. Polk and Harris have a combined 11 tackles and one sack. Polk has never started a game. Harris got his only start last week against the Rams. Still, the Browns are braced for an all-out pass rush.

The Chargers are 5-2, tied with Denver for first in the AFC West. Defensively, they are about as different from the Jets as a team that also plays a 3-4 defense could be.

The Chargers are first in the NFL with 26 sacks; the Jets entered the game last week with 10 sacks in seven games. Even without the scalps on Merriman’s belt San Diego has 3.5 sacks more than the Browns. Castillo, the left end and Butler’s primary assignment, has six sacks. That’s double what Kamerion Wimbley, the Browns sack leader, has.

San Diego’s second-ranked defense comes from being sixth against the run and sixth against the pass. Sometimes those rankings aren’t reflective of how a defense is playing.

The Raiders, for example, are first against the pass because teams run on them, not because the secondary is great.

The Chargers’ rankings are legitimate. Last week the Browns rushed for 147 yards against the Jets. They would like to have but do not expect that same success on the ground in San Diego.

“A lot of their defense is based on getting pressure on the quarterback,” Frye said. “Different pressure schemes and blitzes have caused teams some problems. We’re concentrating this week on keeping me protected.”

Frye said the Chargers remind him defensively of the Steelers. The last time the Browns dealt with such aggressive defense was Christmas Eve of last year when the Steelers won 41-0. The Ravens rushed Frye from all angles in the third game this season and sacked him seven times. The Browns still led most of the game until Frye threw an interception in the end zone in the fourth quarter.

“We play our 3-4 different than a lot of people,” Schottenheimer said during a conference call Wednesday. “We have a system that puts a priority on stopping the run first and then take it to the second element, which is finding a way to defend the pass.”

Jamal Williams is the Chargers’ nose tackle. One player alone cannot block him, Schottenheimer said. Williams’ primary job is to occupy blockers so linebacker Donnie Edwards can swoop in unblocked.

Edwards leads the Chargers with 67 tackles. Williams is fifth with 32 tackles. He also has two sacks. Browns nose tackle Ted Washington has 25 tackles and no sacks.
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Old 11-01-2006, 11:52 PM
Ikeman83 Ikeman83 is offline
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Are you kidding me? Philips is going to be out for this one? At least tell me Olshansky is starting!
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Old 11-01-2006, 11:54 PM
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Playing Polk concerns me because with him there is a big drop-off from Merriman in speed and strength. But I'll give it to the guy - he's a hard worker, which is why he made the 53-man.

I also saw Wilhelm spell somebody at ILB against the Rams, possibly in for Donnie when he got hurt. So right there 3 starting LBs and 1 DE were out for the Chargers.

I think the offense will need to run the Browns defense up and down the field or else this will be a close game down to the end.
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Old 11-01-2006, 11:56 PM
Ikeman83 Ikeman83 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dan40
Playing Polk concerns me because with him there is a big drop-off from Merriman in speed and strength. But I'll give it to the guy - he's a hard worker, which is why he made the 53-man.

I also saw Wilhelm spell somebody at ILB against the Rams, possibly in for Donnie when he got hurt. So right there 3 starting LBs and 1 DE were out for the Chargers.

I think the offense will need to run the Browns defense up and down the field or else this will be a close game down to the end.
The best defense is a good offense would certainly seem to apply here. We need long, brutal, disheartening drives against these jokers.
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Old 11-02-2006, 10:13 PM
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Without merriman, philips and olshansky our defense is merely "decent". Still good enough to keep us in most games (and beat the browns).
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