The Chargers return to action Sunday afternoon when they host the Carolina Panthers. Here are five things to watch for that could dictate the outcome.
1. Accountability, Fundamentals and Trust– That’s the mantra defensive coordinator John Pagano has instilled in his defense this year, and they will need to practice it in order to contain Cam Newton. An incredible playmaker, the Panthers’ dynamic quarterback can exploit a defense with his arm as well as his legs. To use another one of Pagano’s favorite sayings, the Chargers defense doesn’t need one difference maker this week; they need 11 players making a difference.
2. Mathews’ Time to Shine – With
3. No Fluke on the O-Line– As I wrote about Thursday, the offensive line will most likely once again be comprised of
4. Stay on Steve Smith –Of all the weapons the Panthers have on offense, many on the Chargers defense emphasized the need to take wide receiver Steve Smith out of the equation. The diminutive 12-year vet is in the midst of another standout season, amassing 60 catches for 999 yards and a pair of TDs. He’s been especially hot as of late, topping 100 yards receiving in each of his last two games. Smith is the Panthers main vertical threat, so limiting his damage will allow the defense to stack the line of scrimmage keeping extra defenders around Newton.
5. Man in the Middle – With