The San Diego Chargers take the field again on Friday night to face the Arizona Cardinals in preseason action. The teams have practiced against each other this week, and the Chargers will be looking to bounce back from a sloppy performance last week against the Tennessee Titans.
In that game, the Titans rumbled for 288 yards on the ground en route to a 27-10 victory over the Chargers, who couldn’t get out of their own way on offense after the first team looked great, getting a 44-yard touchdown pass from Philip Rivers to Melvin Gordon.
This game has to be better. It has to be a lot better for the Chargers, even if wins and losses don’t count for anything in the preseason.
With that said, here are three key matchups to watch for in this game.
Aug 13, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans running back DeMarco Murray (29) carries the ball away from San Diego Chargers defensive back Darrell Stuckey (25) during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports
San Diego Run Defense vs. Arizona Running Backs
As mentioned, the Chargers gave up a ton of yardage on the ground in the preseason opener, including touchdown runs of 71 and 41 yards to DeMarco Murray and Bishop Sankey. Rookie running back Derrick Henry also gained 74 yards rushing on 10 carries.
San Diego needs to get this figured out, especially since it was one of the worst teams against the run last season, giving up about 125 yards per game on the ground.
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The problem is, Arizona boasts one of the league’s most effective rushing attacks. Led by second-year back David Johnson, the Cardinals also have capable backups in Chris Johnson and Andre Ellington.
The Chargers will be put to the test in this game and if they don’t fix what went wrong on the ground against the Titans, the Cardinals may pile up even more yardage on the ground.
Aug 13, 2016; Nashville, TN, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Zach Mettenberger (4) looks on from the sideline during the second half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Tennessee Titans won 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Joshua Lindsey-USA TODAY Sports
Zach Mettenberger vs. Cardinals’ Second and Third-String Defense
Zach Mettenberger crashed and burned in his debut at quarterback for the Chargers last week, completing just two of the eight passes he threw, with an interception. If he performs that way again, the team may not want to see much more of him.
Kellen Clemens wasn’t great in relief of Rivers last week either, but he has experience as the team’s backup and certainly has a leg up on Mettenberger in the competition right now.
At this point, it would take a lot for Mettenberger to turn things around and make the Chargers’ final 53-man roster, but if he’s going to do that, it needs to start against Arizona.
Jul 30, 2016; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Kenneth Farrow (L) participates in a drill with San Diego Chargers fullback Derek Watt (34) during training camp at Chargers Park. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Kenneth Farrow vs. Arizona Backups
There weren’t many bright spots for the Chargers last week, but San Diego running back Kenneth Farrow was one of them.
Undrafted out of Houston, Farrow came into camp facing long odds to make the team, but after getting 18 touches and racking up 85 yards against the Titans, those odds are improving. No other Chargers running back had more than three carries against Tennessee…. Farrow was given 16.
It will be interesting to see how he follows up that performance. If he plays well against the Cardinals, he could push for a spot on the final 53-man roster before the preseason is over.
Stay tuned to Bolt Beat as we will have more coverage following the game!