Chargers loser: The offensive line
It was less of an issue last week to the point where the line was only the third loser (great, right?), but this week it was really evident. All three quarterbacks, especially Taylor, were getting swarmed and eaten up by the opposing defensive line. There may have only been one Saints sack, but the pressure was smothering. Some of the backup linemen looked better, but that’s also because some backup Saints were in the game.
Everyone on the line deserves a little blame, but after this game the coaches need to specifically look at Trey Pipkins. He seemed to really struggle when put against some of the Saints’ defensive ends. It’s unrealistic to expect Pipkins to look NFL-ready yet, but he may need to in a hurry here, considering the ongoing situation with Russell Okung. The Chargers need to give him as many reps as possible to see him improve.
Chargers winner: Troymaine Pope
Can Pope find a way onto the team? Maybe. He didn’t light up the running game this week, but he had the 81-yard return that showed some of his athleticism and speed. He’s also a decent receiver out of the backfield. Pope’s reportedly been pretty good in training camp as well, and he could very well be 2019’s preseason darling should he keep it up these next two games.
The road to Pope making the team is still challenging, fighting with guys like Newsome and Cox for the third running back slot behind Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson, but if he keeps it up he may be harder to cut. He’s the J.J. Jones of this preseason, but let’s hope he’s not the J.J. Jones of the 2018 regular season.
Chargers loser: Easton Stick
This week was the coming back down to earth week for Stick. Even with the interception, many thought he was solid last week, making a number of good throws. The way he conducted the touchdown drive in Arizona was great.
This week made most people say, “Oh yeah, he is a fifth-round pick.” He was leading a pretty drive at the end to maybe put the Chargers in field goal range, but then threw a really terrible pick to Colton Jumper. It looked like a complete miscommunication on the route between he and Scott, and the blame has to fall on the shoulders of the rookie.
The rest of the game, Stick kind of looked like a deer in headlights minus a good throw to Scott on the final drive. Finishing with a 22.0 passer rating, it just wasn’t his day. It’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things, but it’s something you hope Stick rebounds from and shows some improvement from in these last two games. Maybe some help from his blindside protector, as well as an improvement in penalties, can help the rookie quarterback find his footing again.