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How Chargers changed fan perception of preseason games

GLENDALE, ARIZONA - AUGUST 08: Quarterback Easton Stick #2 of the Los Angeles Chargers drops back to pass during the NFL preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on August 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Chargers 17-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
GLENDALE, ARIZONA - AUGUST 08: Quarterback Easton Stick #2 of the Los Angeles Chargers drops back to pass during the NFL preseason game against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium on August 08, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Cardinals defeated the Chargers 17-13. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The preseason can be a bit of a snooze, but the Chargers have changed it up enough to give fans a reason to tune in for once.

Chargers preseason football, as it is for most NFL teams, is never must-see television for casual fans. The die-hard ones will watch every snap and dissect every play, but for the average consumer, most prefer to tune out before the second half begins.

That is, until this year, at least for Chargers fans; the team is trying something different, and it’s working. Preseason football is actually fun again.

Here’s what the preseason has looked like most years under Tom Telesco:

Drive one:

  • Cardale Jones incomplete pass
  • Jones to Sean Culkin for nine yards
  • Drive ends in a punt

Drive two:

  • Jones for 25 yards
  • Jones sacked for -8 yards
  • Jones for 10 yards
  • Drive ends in a punt

Drive three:

  • Jones incomplete pass
  • Jones sacked for -5 yards
  • Drive ends with the half

Drive four:

  • Jones to Artavis Scott for three yards
  • Jones scrambles, fumbles (call overturned)
  • Drive ends in a punt

Exhilarating, right? That above set of drives includes every snap Jones took against the Arizona Cardinals that wasn’t a hand-off to the running back.

Enter Tyrod Taylor (and some assistance):

Mike Williams going ⬆️ for this one!#LACvsAZ

pic.twitter.com/QMWF3C4Q2h

— PFF (@PFF) August 9, 2019

In his first two drives (his only two) Taylor led the offense to 160 yards on just 17 plays, with one drive ending in an Austin Ekeler fumble and the other a bruising Justin Jackson touchdown run. Preseason football was fun to watch…for a bit.

Jones came in next and, as previously mentioned, led an ugly offense to three straight punts for a grand total of 52 yards on 12 plays.

Then comes Easton Stick, whose first drive was killed by a false start on Sam Tevi and a holding penalty on Trent Scott in back-to-back plays. The second drive: An interception, and an awful one at that. His third drive?

EASTON STICK!?‍♂️?

?: #LACvsAZ on NFL Network (or check local listings) pic.twitter.com/t9jGrgRamV

— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) August 9, 2019

Chargers fans went from falling asleep to exhilarated in a hurry, hoping that if given one more chance the rookie would lead the team to a game-winning touchdown following his previous 10-play, 81-yard touchdown drive. Now, heading into the team’s second preseason game against the New Orleans Saints, Chargers fans are looking forward to seeing what the team does in the third and fourth quarter.

The effect of having multiple story lines at quarterback ripples out and boosts the rest of the roster; at least, when there is a capable quarterback on the field. Did any casual fan know who Malachi Dupre was prior the game? Thanks to Stick, they (probably) do now, as he became the quarterback’s favorite target and the team’s leading receiver on Thursday.

Next. Who to watch as Chargers face Saints on Sunday

With the Chargers opting to give most of its veterans a rest, most fans could grow bored watching what they consider no-names and future roster cuts; now, with Taylor and Stick at quarterback, players like Jordan Smallwood or Troymaine Pope now have a chance to not only show off their ability to coaches, but also an excited fan base eagerly awaiting the next explosive play.

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