Outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, who missed two games with an injured hamstring, is expected to play Sunday when the Chargers put their two-game winning streak on the line against the Washington Redskins.
He has been missed. Despite sitting out two games, Johnson is tied for the team lead with three sacks.
”That’s huge,” Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano said of Johnson’s return. ”He has that mindset where he’s going to set the edge and nothing’s going to get outside. The mindset that he is going to knock people back and get the tackle at the next level and that’s big.”
Still, the defense has managed to hold steady without him. The Chargers haven’t allowed an offensive touchdown in 11 consecutive quarters, something the team hadn’t done since 1977.
”When you’re playing good defense, stuff like that is going to happen, whether it is not letting up a 100-yard rusher or not giving up 300 passing yards or whatever it is,” Johnson said. ”Whatever streak of success you have gives you energy, momentum and it is something to fight for. It’s just another incentive to go out there and play good defense.”
This week, the Chargers (4-3) face the task of trying to slow down the Redskins (2-5) and quarterback Robert Griffin III.
”You have to understand the weapons that he has and that the offense is built around those weapons, whether it is the strength of his arm, his throwing ability or just the multiple things he can do, which is the whole package,” Johnson said. ”It’s a lot to take in. You just have to prepare for it all. It’s tough for us because you have to go through so many different scenarios. It’s a challenge, but it’s going to be fun.”
Coach Mike McCoy didn’t look giddy when explaining the task of taming the versatile Griffin.
”You have to make sure when you have an opportunity to get him, you have to break down and tackle him,” McCoy said. ”He’s a very athletic quarterback who makes plays with his speed. The great thing he does also is once he gets out of the pocket he makes the big throws down field. It’s a challenge for you as a defensive player to be disciplined and understand that you have to stick to your responsibilities. If you freelance at all, he’ll make you pay for it.”