The Los Angeles Chargers dropped to 0-2 in the preseason behind a lackluster performance against the New Orleans Saints, resulting in a 13-7 defeat. The StubHub Center has yet to see their new team win a game, but hopefully this won’t carry to the rest of the season.
Another week, another disappointment for Bolts fans. After the team came out strong for a quarter and a half in the preseason opener against Seattle, the offense has been a trainwreck. The defense was a sieve against Seattle and at least rebounded against New Orleans. Even though it was a dirty and sloppy game, there were a couple good things to take from the game. Unfortunately, there were plenty negatives that reared their ugly head as well.
Winner: Desmond King
Two preseason games and two losses for the Chargers. On the bright side, two preseason games and two wins for rookie defensive back Desmond King. After recording an interception and chasing down a Seattle running back to pop the ball loose in the first game, King continued to be a playmaker in the second exhibition game. Although he only had two tackles, he recorded a sack, a tackle for loss, a QB hit and a pass deflection. He played snaps at safety, nickel and corner and he simply made plays. He’s looking like a gem for Tom Telesco so far.
Loser: Cardale Jones
Last week, I tabbed both backup quarterbacks as losers and went into this week hoping one of them would show up this week in a worst-case scenario and come to play. Kellen Clemens got the nod as the starter with Philip Rivers taking the game off. He wasn’t great (10-of-17, 99 yards, 75.4 rating), but he was far better than Cardale.
For a second straight game, he looked jittery and nervous in the pocket. He finished the game 7-of-15 for 61 yards, an interception and a 30.1 rating. He was also sacked four times and his legs, which were supposed to be one of his advantages over Clemens, didn’t look to be working, as he didn’t net any positive rushing yards. Clemens, on the other hand, was the team’s leading rusher (which also shows the lack of run game). Hopefully, Cardale can step up in a big way the next two weeks, or his spot on the roster isn’t even a guarantee.
Winner: Dexter McCoil
Dexter McCoil has long been a fringe player, with such a crowded defensive backfield. Between Dwight Lowery, Tre Boston, Adrian Phillips and King, the free safety competition is one of the most crucial for this Chargers team. McCoil added to his resume in a solid way. Leading the team in tackles with seven was impressive, but not quite as telling as the 99-yard interception he returned for the only points Los Angeles put on the board. McCoil should make the roster and this game may be the ultimate selling point.
Loser: Kenjon Barner
When I wrote my article predicting the Chargers’ 53-man roster a couple months ago, one of the prevailing comments was that many thought Kenjon Barner would make the roster over Andre Williams or Kenneth Farrow. Well, through two preseason games, it’s not looking likely. While Williams (19 carries for 41 yards through two games) and Farrow (2 carries for 15 yards due to injury) haven’t looked phenomenal, like most of the running backs, Barner has been terrible.
Through the two preseason games, the former Oregon standout has three touches for a one-yard loss. While I understand he has been through concussion protocol, considering he was suited up and playing against the Saints and saw very limited and unfavorable playing time, I’m still not sold on him making the team. Maybe I’m wrong and coach Anthony Lynn has Barner as a secret weapon he doesn’t want to give away in the preseason. Or maybe he’s as disappointing as he has been since entering the NFL.
Winner: Mike Williams’ replacement
While replacement may be a strong word, Chargers fans shouldn’t shudder away. This could just as easily have read “Winner: Sixth receiver.” Due to the injury history of the Bolts’ top five receivers, depth should still be a concern for the Chargers, especially for the Mike Williams role. When he was drafted, a lot of analysts saw Williams as the kind of big receiver Rivers hasn’t had since Vincent Jackson. With him out until at least October, The Chargers need to find a fifth receiver for the first couple months that can contribute. Luckily, they have three or four guys that look good enough.
More from Bolt Beat
- LA Chargers: 3 early takeaways from 2021 minicamp thus far
- LA Chargers: Drue Tranquill takes a jab at Gus Bradley’s defense
- LA Chargers second-year players: Nothing to lose and a lot to gain
- LA Chargers: Why running back could be a big issue for the Bolts
- LA Chargers: Chris Rumph’s upside is Melvin Ingram-like, but better
Jamaal Jones had five catches for 47 yards and has been raved about since the start of camp. He did fumble attempting to get a first down, but mistakes happen with young players. Geremy Davis, who many saw as a sneaky candidate for the 53-man roster, has the size to replace Williams and added three catches for 37 yards on Sunday. While Isaiah Burse and Artavis Scott didn’t have any impact on the stat sheet, both have been praised throughout training camp. Any one of these guys, particularly Jones or Davis, should look to get more reps the next two weeks to help make the final call on who gets the spot.
Loser: Ground and Pound
When the Chargers hired Lynn, he promised to bring his ground and pound philosophy to a team that has long been an offensive unit that thrived through the air and used draws and screens to replace the run game. I didn’t buy into it until the team signed Russell Okung and drafted two interior lineman in the first three rounds. After the offseason, I was excited to see this team use burgeoning-stud Melvin Gordon as a bell cow and take a lot of pressure off of Rivers.
Unfortunately, through two games, the Bolts aren’t showing it off. Through two preseason games, the team has carried the ball 51 times for 138 yards, a measly 2.7 yards per rush. Taking into account the quarterbacks have scrambled six times for 44 yards, the number should be even worse. The offensive line also yielded eight sacks on Sunday to a team not known for its pass- rushing prowess. Hopefully when the season comes around, there can be a more effective running game, otherwise we won’t be seeing the kind of ground and pound we were promised.