After re-watching the first game of the preseason, I have put together some thoughts and analysis on what the Chargers were both efficient at and what they need to improve on throughout the rest of camp if they intend to return to the postseason this year.
I’ll be quick to note that this is the first game of the year so everything should be taken with a grain of salt. To begin, I’ll divide the different schematics of the game into three categories (offense, defense, special teams) then proceed to account for their performances in the game and give an outlook into Friday’s game as well.
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Thoughts and Analysis:
It was a shame that Jatavis Brown wasn’t able to suit up I was excited to see what talent he could’ve flaunted on special teams. Alas, it looks like we will all be waiting until Friday to see his debut. Josh Lambo looked good nailing his extra point and lone field goal attempt for the day with relative ease. One thing to pay attention to next week is the distance on his kickoffs. At least from my perspective it looked like San Diego will avoid touchbacks this year, since they are now placed at the 25 yard line, and attempt to place kicks around the five yard line, in an effort to improve field position for the defense.
In other news Drew Kaser looked tantalizing raw with his punting. The kid has a leg there is no debating that. The only concern is his placement, as none of his five punts were pinned inside the oppositions 20 yard line. On at least on occurrence he had a chance to do just that, however instead of killing the ball on the bounce, Kaser’s punt rolled right into the end zone for a touchback. Wet field condition may have played a part in that though so overall it was a positive night for the rookie. Dexter McCoil had a solid open field tackle on punt coverage in the second half as did Derek Watt earlier in the game.
The Chargers seemed to have found themselves a young special teams tandem in Lambo and Kaser for years to come. Look for Jatavis Brown and Dexter McCoil to contribute on Friday against the Cardinals on both kickoff and punt coverage. Also pay attention to see if the Chargers attempt to pooch kick again on kickoff or go for the traditional touchback. Finally, let’s hope we see some improved accuracy from Kaser when he attempts to pin the opposition within their twenty yard line. Hopefully the coffin corner will be alive and well come Friday.
Thoughts and Analysis:
The starters looked fantastic all around. The offensive line really impressed me even sans Orlando Franklin. Matt Slauson was great. What a difference having a center who doesn’t get blown into the quarterback every other play makes. Melvin Gordon was good in limited action. He hit holes with authority, something we seldom saw last year. Although I believe handing the ball off to him under center will give him an added advantage of having some momentum going forward before he decides what read he is going to make. Rivers only threw the ball three times and there is no reason to doubt he won’t be elite again this year. Keenan Allen’s route running and run blocking were once again impeccable. Hunter Henry looked the part in his playing time hauling in three catches and thoroughly engaging himself while run blocking. The only starter who looked shaky was Derek Watt. He couldn’t finish a block on the first play of the game that would’ve meant big yards for Gordon. Instead it ended up being a three yard gain. Watt was also caught holding later on the drive and dropped a dump-off pass in the Second quarter. Look for Chris Swain to take snaps away from Watt as the preseason progresses. All aboard the Swain Train!!!
The backups looked deplorable to say the least. Let’s all take a break and get in a quick prayer hoping that Rivers doesn’t get hurt this year. If he does, knock on wood he doesn’t, we will not win a single game. Kellen Clemens, Zach Mettenberger, and Mike Bercovici all looked sub par to say it nicely. These three make clipboard Jesus look like Tom Brady I swear. Kenneth Farrow had himself a nice game. It might be wise to consider keeping him as RB4 on the roster or at least throw him on the practice squad. Donovan Clark looked fantastic at guard. Look for him to steal a roster spot from a veteran such as Chris Hairston. Branden Oliver was as shifty as usual in the backfield, looking to solidify his spot as RB3 on the roster. Max Turek struggled with illegal snaps in his debut but looked solid otherwise. UDFA Dom Williams had a couple snags in the game as well. Other than that the offense was about as bland as a bodybuilder’s diet.
Expect the offense to be on the field for 2-3 drives next game depending on their initial success. Hopefully Chris Swain gets more snaps as San Diego seems to be in love with Derek Watt if only because he was Melvin Gordon’s teammate in college. Speaking of Gordon look for him to build on nice performance against Tennessee. I liked his more aggressive demeanor out on the field including a nice stiff arm once he reached the end zone. Pay close attention to the receivers on Friday as both Travis Benjamin and Tyrell Williams look to make their preseason debuts. Finally, enjoy Ken Whisenhut’s diverse play-calling throughout the game. It really is a thing to marvel at.
Thoughts and Analysis:
The starters played admirably, yet left something to be desired. First off, Darius Philon played ok showing flashes here and there but this game should’ve done nothing except signify the importance of Bosa’s absence. The horrid run defense was mostly thanks to the second and third team defense, however the Titans did break off one long run against the starters. Coincidently enough, that run was to Philon’s side where he was washed out of the play by the Titans left tackle.
Another area of concern was the safeties. On the second play of the game Dwight Lowery was late on his assignment and it resulted in a big gain. Jaleel Addae also missed an easy interception on the same drive. The two didn’t play awful, but they didn’t play good either. Sub par play is not going to cut it from the safety position this year. Look for both of them to improve their play on Friday.
Brandon Mebane looked rock solid. It was a nice change of pace seeing a true nose tackle capable of pushing the opposing team’s center into the backfield for once. The trio of Jason Verrett, Brandon Flowers, and Casey Hayward all looked excellent in their debut. Both Denzel Perryman and Manti Te’o didn’t see much action in their time out on the field.
One large area of concern was Jerry Attaochu. He didn’t start and inexplicably ended up playing the entire game, minus the first drive. Even worse, he didn’t dominate like he should against third teamers in the third and fourth quarter. Instead he consistently had trouble shedding blocks all night. One reason for this full game treatment might be the possibility that Attaochu is out of shape. Let’s hope that is in fact the case as training camp should fix that rather quickly.
As far as backups go, about the only players worth talking about were Dexter McCoil and Adrian McDonald. The “McSafeties,” as those from Bolts From the Blue have dubbed the duo, looked impressive with McDonald forcing a fumble and McCoil recovering one. As previously stated Dexter McCoil was also impressive on special teams throughout the game as well as in pass coverage.
Look to see how well and how much Jerry Attaochu plays on Friday. Hopefully he can quell the rumors insinuating he might be one of the surprise cuts from camp. Secondly, expect to see more playing time for the McSafeties. Jatavis Brown will also make his debut as previously stated and let’s not forget he is slated as ILB3 alongside Nick Dzubnar so he should see his fair share of playing time. A magnifying glass will also be on Darius Philon as he looks to start again in Joey Bosa’s absence. Lastly, expect to see more pressure being dialed up by John Pagano on the sideline as the playbook opens up in the second game of the preseason.
All in all the first game of the preseason was a resounding success due to the fact that no one was seriously injured. The starting offense certainly looks to be a top 10 and potentially top 5 offense in the league this year. As always this will depend on health. The starting defense had a bend but don’t break attitude out on the field and it work to some degree, however I’d preferably like to see some more pressure on the QB come Friday. They certainly will get a good test in a formidable Cardinals O-Line. Finally, look for some Bolts to make their season debut in Jatavis Brown, Travis Benjamin, Tyrell Williams, and Orlando Franklin. Other than that we continue the countdown until Friday when we can come home from work, turn on the TV, and become the best couch quarterbacks there are during the game.