HOUSTON -- Tackle statistics are a shifty bunch. After inside linebacker Brian Cushing's season opener, the stat-keepers in San Diego only gave him five total tackles -- four solo and one assist. That tied him with outside linebacker Whitney Mercilus and safety Danieal Manning for the team lead.
After reviewing the tape, Houston Texans coaches found six more tackles for Cushing. His stat line now includes 11 total tackles, his crucial interception and a pass breakup. Mercilus finished with seven tackles, Manning and defensive end Jared Crick each had six and inside linebacker Joe Mays had five.
Relatedly, I had defensive coordinator Wade Phillips explain why the play on which Cushing recorded his interception worked so well.
His thoughts (while acting out some of the quarterback's motions):
"Part of it was because Whitney (Mercilus) was free on the quarterback. The quarterback had to do something quick, and I talked to Philip (Rivers) after the game and he said, ‘I had to throw it quick because the guy was right on top of me.’ We have Cush in the middle, where he reads the quarterback well. The quarterback had to go right now because it was coming, and he was looking that direction. He had to get rid of the ball to that side and Cush got a great jump on it. It was a great play by Cush, but it helped that we had a guy free on the quarterback and, instead of going back and then looking and throwing, he had somebody on him and had to throw it right now."
Another reporter later asked Phillips if it was an all-out blitz.
"It wasn’t an all-out blitz. We don’t all-out blitz. It was a zone blitz. It was actually the same one they ran the first play against us. (When Matt Schaub threw his interception.) It’s kind of interesting that when both teams ran that same zone dog or zone blitz, we threw the pass to the other side and the back knocked it and they caught it. I just thought it was interesting that they run the same things we run because we put them in when we were there."
Phillips was Chargers defensive coordinator from 2004-2006.