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Chargers defense looking to end takeaway drought, losing streak

By in Press Enterprise on October 7, 2017

By Jack Wang

The Chargers’ defense hasn’t truly cost them any games. It hasn’t won them any either.

The unit has looked brilliant at times, especially with Melvin Ingram rushing the passer. It has looked horrid at times, whiffing tackle after tackle against running backs of all shapes and sizes. The team has only given up nine touchdowns this season — placing them just above the middle of the NFL pack — but it has also been gashed for 355.5 yards per game, one of the 10 worst marks in the league.

Heading into Sunday’s road game against the Giants (10 a.m. PT, Ch. 9), Anthony Lynn is looking for more.

“This ‘bend but don’t break’ on defense,” the Chargers’ first-year coach said this week, “that’s got to change.”

One potential fix? Taking the ball away.

A year ago, the Chargers forced 28 turnovers, tied for fourth-most in the NFL. Nearly every position chipped in: Ingram forced five fumbles; cornerback Casey Hayward nabbed seven interceptions; 15 other players caused at least one turnover.

The Chargers (0-4) had a fumble and an interception in their season-opening loss in Denver, catalysts for their failed fourth-quarter comeback. Since then … nothing. Only the Dolphins, with one turnover this fall, have been less productive.

“Are guys going after the ball?,” said defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. “Do they have the mindset to go after the ball? We’re seeing that get better. It’s not at the level it needs to be yet, but sometimes that just comes with a comfort of understanding everything about the defense to where we play more freely.”

Turnovers can be tricky to sustain from season to season. Hayward’s seven interceptions, for example, led the league last season. Nine other players around the league had at least five, making for a top 10 that combined for 55 picks.

Through four weeks, only […]    

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