I was at the joint practice between our San Diego Chargers and the Arizona Cardinals at Qualcomm Stadium Tuesday night. Just before it started, it was announced on social media that Cardinals’ head coach, Bruce Arians, had been taken to the hospital experiencing stomach pains. Best wishes to him in his recovery.
The practice started with special teams drills (yawn). Then it was time for 1-on-1 drills, consisting of wide receivers versus defensive backs that were much more exciting. Brandon Flowers was burned for several deep passes. His days as an outside cornerback are hopefully over. Jason Verrett also struggled early trying to cover Larry Fitzgerald.
After good coverage caused Philip Rivers to be unable to connect with Keenan Allen twice, the duo started lighting up the Cardinals secondary. First, with a deep bomb over coverage from Patrick Peterson, the Cardinals top defensive back. Allen looked unstoppable all night, catching nearly everything thrown his way, and getting open early and often.
Travis Benjamin made several nice and difficult catches where he used his quick twitch speed to change direction and come back to perfectly placed balls from PR17. Rivers later said that he and Benjamin “needed” that type of connection in practice. The duo looks to be gelling nicely.
During 11-on-11 drills the Chargers got the best of the exchanges on offense and defense. Melvin Gordon had several nice runs through the middle of the Cardinals’ defensive front seven. The Cardinals’ defense had trouble covering Tyrell Williams, because he is a beast.
Melvin Ingram looked like a man on a mission. He set the edge on back-to-back run plays to the outside with tackles for a loss or no gain. Early, Arizona was running almost every play to the outside, no doubt from watching the Chargers get gashed by the Titans on Saturday. With Ingram in the backfield on almost every run they changed the plays.
Casey Hayward looked very good; he had tight coverage on several plays resulting in pass breakups. In my opinion, Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward need to be the starting outside cornerbacks this season. Dexter McCoil ran stride-for-stride with Arizona receivers and had a great pass break-up in the end-zone.
Something interesting I saw during linebacker interception drills; both Manti Te’o and Jeremiah Attaochu had balls clank off their hands and land on the ground. As soon as they got to the huddle they were told to bust out push-ups in front of everyone. I personally love this kind of accountability. I have heard that this has happened before in some practices this year. In those cases, the whole front seven had to do push-ups during a practice when the unit was not getting enough pressure on the quarterback.
Hunter Henry had a nice toe-tap touchdown, he looks to be a better red zone weapon than Ladarius Green was.
No major injuries to report. The “no-tackling” practice was competitive but not combative.
Quickly, I will give my thoughts on that sorry excuse for a preseason game that was played on Saturday between the Titans and Chargers:
Obviously it was great to see Ken Whisenhunt getting the Bolts’ offensive linemen coming forward on run plays instead of skating backwards. It was great to see Melvin Gordon finally get in the end-zone on a long catch-and-run. Gordon looked more confident and decisive. Not much bad to say about the first team offense. A low-light on offense was too many penalties on the line (coaching); hopefully they can get that cleaned up before they play Arizona on Friday.
The defense was terrible. They picked up right where they left off last season with not being able to tackle and giving up big plays in the run game. Of course this shouldn’t be a surprise because it’s been like this for five years now. John Pagano is still the defensive coordinator, and his defense still looks like they have no clue what they are doing with tons of missed assignments.
Now, I’ve heard people say it’s the first preseason game. Tackling across the league is bad right now since these players haven’t really tackled in 7-8 months. Okay, but this defense was missing it’s assignments, shooting the wrong gaps, and looked woefully unprepared. All of which is coaching. They have a lot to clean up.
One of the few bright spots on defense and special teams was Dexter McCoil. He blew up a Titans’ returner on a special teams play that caused him to lose about ten yards. He’s big, fast and can cover and tackle. He also had a fumble recovery. He needs to be one of the starting safeties. The kicking game and punt game both looked good. That’s all for now, thanks for reading.