Deciphering Mike McCoy: Consistency and Defense

DS Mike McCoy

Chargers head coach Mike McCoy finally opened up, albeit a little bit, in his Monday press conference following his team’s crushing defeat at the hands of the Green Bay Packers. We’ve seen moments like this from him in the past where he “opens up” as if a dose of reality finally woke him. But this past Monday though, McCoy was less coy and, just a little, more “real.” Among a plethora of questions and answers regarding the state of his team, I thought a few of the quotes seen below–storylines that were perhaps overshadowed by Philip Rivers’ monster game, Keenan Allen’s catch-fest, and Melvin Gordon’s butterfingers, among other topics—were worth deciphering.

CONSISTENCY

“Really, when you look at our football team right now, when we play the way we know we can play, and there’s 11 guys on offense and defense doing their job the right way, we can be pretty good. We just got to be more consistent. That’s the message to the football team. We’ve got to be more consistent as a group. A lot of fight in our football team. Our record is what it is, but this team has a ton of fight.”

I agree with McCoy on this, that his team did show a lot of fight. He alluded at the end of this quote and at other times during Monday’s press conference that it isn’t good enough, though, and the team’s record shows it. That’s the bottom line. This is a win/loss league and you don’t get extra points for effort. The issue I have with this team, six games in to the season, is the lack of consistency. Sure, injuries can play a major role in instability, but that’s where the coaches come in. Consistency has been a theme for this Chargers team for weeks now. No big plays on defense, establish a rhythm on offense. Each game we’ve seen stretches, but not for 60 minutes. And McCoy and players keep saying they have to play for 60 minutes. Well? Do it.

DENZEL PERRYMAN

“I think he did a nice job. He’s got some things to correct, but he’s very instinctive against the run, and in the passing game he did some good things. He’s learning every week. It’s different when you’re playing full-speed live in the system. He’s a player that has a bright future with us. Love his attitude, his physical style of play, his big hits and his “want-to” … That’s the way most Miami kids are. He’ll make some mistakes from time to time like young players do, but I love the way he plays the game.”

Perryman is no doubt a player that has, at least, a future with the Chargers, and that’s because Donald Butler continues to confound us all with his play. At times, Butler really is mind-boggling. I think there is something to what McCoy said when he referenced Perryman’s “instincts” in the run game, particularly because that is something Butler has consistently struggled with. Perryman made seven solo tackles in Sunday’s loss at Green Bay; Butler has just 13 all season. There were some minor things to clean up in passing situations (see how Perryman drops in coverage on Rodgers’ first TD pass to Starks), but overall, he did well in his first start against one of the best offenses in the league. What we should be reminded of in Perryman’s case, however, is that at one point Donald Butler looked like he would be a great linebacker too. It’s early so not let’s not call Perryman a savior, yet but props to how physical he is, especially on a defense lacking ferocity.

BRANDON FLOWERS

“There’s things that you want to improve on, whether it’s helping him certain ways or doing certain things or eliminating a penalty, there are some things he wants to work on. We all have to get better this week.

We’re going to evaluate every position every week. We haven’t gotten into the game planning for Oakland yet. We’re always going to do what’s in the best interest of the team.  We have a lot of confidence in all the guys we have here.”

McCoy showed in 2013 that he is not afraid to bench a high-paid, underperforming cornerback. Remember Derek Cox? I’m not yet ready to say that Brandon Flowers is on that level yet but obviously he’s struggled this season. He’s had five touchdown passes thrown his way on the season, including an eight-yard grab by James Jones on Sunday in Green Bay, although Jones looked like he pushed off on Flowers to make the catch. Penalties and big plays have also been a crutch for Flowers this season. At this point, considering how well fellow cornerback Patrick Robinson has performed this season, I think Flowers’ status as a starter is for the first time legitimately being talked about among the coaching staff.

JERRY ATTAOCHU

“I think he’s playing with a ton of confidence right now. He’s playing outstanding right now. Bobby and Mike Nolan have done an outstanding job working with him, and he’s really listening to all of the fine little details of the way we want to rush the passer. Even when he’s not getting there, coming off the edge and getting to that level where the quarterback is and squeezing the pocket so he can’t do certain things. He’s playing with a lot of energy. He’s playing the game the way it’s supposed to be played. I think he’s a player, as you watch the progressions he’s made, the more he plays the better he’s getting. I’m very pleased with the way he’s playing right now. Love the attitude and approach.”

Attaochu has been the Chargers best pass rusher this season. He notched his second two-sack game of the year against the Packers and has been on a steady up-hill progression since the Vikings game. Now that he’s healthy, McCoy and the staff have had their best look at the second-year pro, and Attaochu’s made the most of it, especially at critical points in the game. He sacked Aaron Rodgers on third-and-nine from the Chargers 31-yard line late in the second quarter which pushed Green Bay out of field goal range and forced a punt. Rodgers tried to scramble but Attaochu was relentless in his pursuit, shedding a blocker, before chasing down Rodgers from behind. He did the nearly the same thing on Green Bay’s first possession of the second half. On third-and-seven from the Packers 43-yard line, and with sound coverage by the Chargers secondary, Rodgers stepped up in the pocket and was tackled from behind by Attaochu after he pushed off his blocker. Again, the Packers were forced to punt.

 

–Andrew Burer (TWITTER: @andrewburer)

 

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