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This Sunday, the Cleveland Browns take on the San Diego Chargers in Week 4 of the regular season. To help preview this week's game, I reached out to Richard Wade from Bolts from the Blue and exchanged five questions with him. Enjoy!
Chris: "What is the latest on the Chargers' offensive line? Even when healthy, has the line struggled this year?"
Richard: "The offensive line has been a disaster, primarily due to injuries. Of the five projected starting offensive linemen, all have missed time. Some have missed significant time, and some have spent the majority of their on-field time playing through injuries that probably would have kept them off the field if the team had any real depth behind them. This was exacerbated by the team's insistence on carrying Johnnie Troutman, a fifth-string interior lineman too injured to suit up on game days, on the 53-man roster."
Chris: "Chargers head coach Mike McCoy is in his third year with the team. He's had two 9-7 finishes and the team is off to a 1-2 start in 2015. Do Chargers fans feel he's had the team where they are supposed to be during his reign, or do you think the results have been too mediocre when you have a quarterback the caliber of Philip Rivers on the team?"
Richard: "Mike McCoy is a terrible in-game manager. His clock management is consistently abysmal. His 4th down decision-making is a couple decades behind the times. The team frequently looks unprepared and undisciplined. He and his coaching staff make decent in-game adjustments, but their initial game plans leave so much to be desired that it's difficult to even give them credit for that. McCoy has enjoyed a better reputation than he deserved after the team lucked into the playoffs in his first year by beating a Chiefs team that was resting all of its starters and whose kicker missed an easy field goal to force overtime in Week 17. Describing him as a disappointment seems like an understatement."
Chris: "Like the Browns, the Chargers have been one of the worst teams at defending the run through three weeks. Both teams had difficulty stopping the run in 2014 too. If you had to pick two players who contribute to the Chargers' poor run defense, who would you name?"
Richard: "I only get to pick two? That's tough. I could give you two each from the defensive line and linebacking corps, but we'll go with just one. On the line, Sean Lissemore is asked to be the guy that eats up blocks and frees the linebackers to make plays. That simply is not in his skill set. At linebacker, Manti Te'o is a guy that frequently reads plays correctly, gets into proper position, then completely whiffs on the tackle. Perhaps the most frustrating part of the Chargers bad run defense is that they have a perfectly adequate nose tackle in Ryan Carrethers who has been a healthy scratch each week this season."
Chris: "The Chargers only have one sack through three games. If the Chargers do get any form of a pass rush, who does it usually come from?"
Richard: "Well, as you might have guessed from the one sack, there's not much of a pass rush to speak of in San Diego. When there is a pass rush, though, it's typically coming from one of the three pass rushing outside linebackers, Melvin Ingram, Jerry Attaochu, or Kyle Emanuel. The first is hovering on the edge of being a draft bust the second is a raw player that's never healthy, and the last is this year's fifth round pick. Honestly, the one I trust the most is the rookie. He already looks more polished as a pass rusher and has a better nose for the football than the other two do despite the experience gap."
Chris: "Tell us about a player (not on the offensive line) who Browns fans might not be familiar with, but who could see significant snaps this Sunday and play well."
Richard: "Well, I already mentioned him earlier, but Kyle Emanuel is pretty anonymous. He played for a small FCS school in college and has only played three regular season games for a thus-far-disappointing Chargers team. He already looks like he'll be a special player. In his first game seeing the majority of the snaps, he had the team's only sack, made a diving interception, and forced an errant pass that was intercepted by Patrick Robinson. If you want to focus on a Chargers defensive player, keep an eye on Emanuel on Sunday."
Thanks again to Richard for taking the time to answer my questions.