- Paul Kuharsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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I understand the general thinking. A big-play wide receiver who can take the top off a defense dictates coverage and dissuades a defense from adding an eighth man to the front to stop the run.
But I just reviewed the coaches’ film of Johnson’s 11 runs against New England that produced 4 yards.
On just two of those plays did the Patriots have more than seven men in the box.
The first attempt against a front with an extra defender went for a 3-yard loss.
The second was on a first-and-goal from the New England 1-yard line, a down that screamed run in a situation where there wasn’t space to leave safeties deep even if the Patriots wanted to. That produced a 5-yard loss.
So against a stacked box, Johnson was two-for-minus-8. And against a box where an extra defender had no bearing on the play as Johnson got the ball and looked for room, he was nine-for-12.
Yes, Britt is threatening and the Chargers will surely be conscious and cautions about him.
But he’s not going to back a linebacker out of the front.
And the Chargers just saw the Patriots do just fine handling Johnson without an extra defender near the line of scrimmage.
Why, then, would we be expecting some dramatic change in defensive alignment because of Britt’s presence?
I don’t think the Chargers' safeties are going to line up much deeper than the Patriots' safeties did in Week 1, and even if they do, the front should start out thinking it will handle the Titans’ run-game just fine without any help from the defensive backfield.