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Chargers playing well in secondary, but interceptions elude them

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  • Chargers playing well in secondary, but interceptions elude them

    Brandon Flowers was on the hook for lunch in the defensive back room after dropping a chance at an interception against Buffalo last week.

    Although he took some heckling from his teammates during film session on Monday, Flowers understands that dropped interceptions could be the difference between winning and losing. The Bills went on to score three points on a Dan Carpenter 45-yard field goal after Flowers’ dropped interception in the first half.

    "You’ve got to make those plays," Flowers said. "You definitely can’t leave plays like that on the field. That gave them their first three points. Every time we step on the field, we want to pitch a shutout."

    Flower’s attitude is an example of the higher standard expected from the San Diego Chargers’ pass defense in 2014. Just taking a quick look at the statistics is all you need to know about this revamped unit.

    San Diego is giving up just 16.3 points a contest, tied for fourth in the league. The Chargers have allowed just 226 passing yards a contest, which is No. 13 in the NFL.

    Though San Diego has allowed 12 passing plays of 20-plus yards (tied for 25th in the NFL), the Chargers have given up just one passing play of 40-plus yards through three games. San Diego also has allowed just one passing touchdown to a receiver this season.

    However, one area the secondary has struggled is interceptions. The Chargers have dropped a handful of potential interceptions on defense, and are one of six teams without an interception through three games.

    The Chargers finished with just 11 interceptions last season, tied for 26th in the NFL. Making game-changing plays like interceptions is important, according to Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano.

    "The guys want to end up with the ball in their hands," Pagano said. "And it’s something that we’re getting guys around the football, we’ve just got to go ahead and finish, and catch the ball. And when the ball is on the ground, we’ve got to go get after it. And it’s something that we’re making them aware of it.”

    Added safety Eric Weddle: "We’re stressing it and talking about it. But we’re playing well. We’re sticky and tight in coverage. We’re confident, and that hasn’t brought us down, where in years past we would’ve been down about it. The picks are going to come."

    The Chargers certainly work on catching the ball in practice. Ball drills are part of the daily regimen for San Diego’s secondary at the beginning of practice. So it’s just a matter of bringing that focus and attention to detail onto the field on Sunday.

    Along with the addition of Flowers and Jason Verrett, one thing that has helped with the improved play in the secondary is a better pass rush. Through three games the Chargers have seven sacks, tied for 13th in the league.

    "The rush is bigtime," cornerback Richard Marshall said. “What Corey (Liuget), Kendall (Reyes), Dwight Freeney and those guys are doing, we don’t have to cover that long. And that goes hand in hand.

    "If we cover well, they get the sacks. If they rush well, the balls going to come out quicker than normal and they don’t have all day to throw the ball. They’re doing a great job up front."