The most consistent player on the Chargers defense over the past five years is preaching just that — consistency. Eric Weddle, the four time All-Pro and Chargers’ safety, is one of the best safeties in the NFL, and was the best member of a (quite frankly) lousy secondary in 2013. The Bolt’s defensive back end ranked 29th against the pass, and limited the team from reaching its full potential early in the season.
But with the addition of a Pro Bowl defensive back in Brandon Flowers, a first round corner in Jason Verrett, and giving the carry-over members of the secondary another year together, Weddle is liking what he’s seen thus far in camp.
“Naturally, as the years grow older in your progression you’re going to play faster, and when you have the same group you’re going to play collectively faster, and it’s showing on the field,” the San Diego veteran told Ricky Henne from chargers.com. “The biggest thing with a lot of guys is they need to stay healthy and they need to understand that you can’t come out here for a week, have a good week and then the next week get beat for five touchdowns and think you’re going to play… the guys are understanding that it’s all about consistency.”
Weddle’s words ring true for the remaining members of the San Diego secondary from 2013. Players like Shareece Wright, Richard Marshall, Jahleel Addae and Marcus Gilchrist all showed potential at times, but were not dependable week in and week out. The improved play of Wright, along with the positional changers allowing for Gilchrist and Addae to see the field together, were a big part in the Chargers winning their final four regular season games on route to the playoffs.
The leader of this unit knows the margin for error is slim this season. The team can’t rely on a late season push to make the playoffs again — it needs to be consistent from the get-go. And while Weddle raved about his new teammates, and new safety mate, Jahleel Addae, he knows they will need to be better.
Health is an obvious concern, but with a bigger pass rush threat, 2014 could be the chance for the Bolt’s secondary to erase the dismal performance of last year. And for Weddle, he has a little extra incentive to get his unit playing above average. After pledging to shave his beard only when the Chargers win the Super Bowl, #32 will do everything in his power to ensure his unit puts the team in a position to succeed, and maybe, finally allow him to get rid of the facial hair that now defines the lack of Lombardi trophies in San Diego.