Chargers got their first win in the preseason, let’s look how they answered some of the key questions below.

Coaching and GM

  • This should be the week we see a little more game planning as it could be seen as the dress rehearsal for the regular season. I don’t know about you, but I liked the WR screens and Danny Woohead wheel routes that I saw.  Definitely looked like they were trying some things out with the first unit.  The quick inside handoffs for Mathews were really effective too.
  • Depth continues to be a big question mark for this team.  Injuries have really emphasized that lack of depth.  Will Richard Marshall see the field as the latest addition to replace Steve Williams.  Marshall didn’t see the field, but the DBs got another injury when Patrick went down with a concussion (his 2nd in 2 weeks).  Chargers will need him healthy moving forward.  Overall, depth looked better last night with some decent performances from the 2nd and 3rd string.
  • While Mike McCoy has said that they aren’t playing the starters on special teams, the unit has been a nightmare.  Well that philosophy changed and we saw guys like Weddle and Stuckey making plays on special teams.  Stuckey was a man on a mission.  Kwame Geathers is a big man and that was an amazing field goal block.

Defense

  • The first unit was again very impressive with Liuget on the field.  This group needs to prove it can be dominant without him.  Cam Thomas and Freeney looked really good.  Reyes played a decent game, but there were some holes in the run defense early that need to be shored up.  Larry English made an incredible read and tackle on a sweep with Patrick Peterson.
  • It looks like Te’o may not be back until the regular season, Bront Bird and DJ Smith appear to be separating themselves from the rest.  Bront Bird is active but looks lost at times.  DJ Smith had a nice assist on the Gachkar interception.
  • Cox has started to make some plays in practice, hoping to see this translate to the field tonight.  Fitzgerald will prove to be another challenge for this unit after facing Marshall last week.  Not a bad job by Wright and Cox.  Fitzgerald had some catches, but Cox was physical without getting penalized.  The TD catch by Floyd looked to be on the safety.  I’ll have to re-watch but it looked like Gatson had looked back and asked for help over the top.
  • Gilchrist was somewhat invisible last week, which was both good and bad.  Would love to see him make a couple plays.  He looked good in run support, but Taylor was flying around the field making plays.  I would imagine Gilchrist doesn’t hold the spot down for long, especially if Patrick is down for any length of time.
  • We saw two sacks on the first 3 plays last week, would love to see more consistent pressure throughout the game.  Dwight.  Freeney.  Man was a beast.  He was a step away for most of the night and in and around Palmer on a lot of plays.  Finaly put Brown through the spin cycle and knocked him backwards before getting the sack.

Offense

  • No Alexander, Floyd or Royal.  We may be looking at Allen and Brown as the starters.  Thought the play calling was great, getting Allen involved early.  Brown drew a couple of penalties on Powers and looked impressive with the routes.
  • The wide receivers didn’t catch a pass until the 2nd quarter last week, need to get them involved earlier in the game.  See above.  Group was much more active early.  Still would like to see more receptions from the group as the starters only combined for 3.
  • Where’s Woodhead?  We thought we might see him last week, hoping he’s a go this week.  What could’ve been on that wheel route to Woodhead.  Man this guy is so quick.  I can’t wait to see what variation they run off that wheel.  Could run a V route or something similar to play off of it.
  • Keenan Allen has been a trusted target of Rivers, seems to be getting stronger every week.  Can he continue that trend?  Had two catches on a similar play.  But still was a target Rivers trusted.
  • Rivers bailed out Starks on 1090 this week about the sack saying he went too deep in the pocket, Dunlap still seems to be the more consistent option.  Does that trend continue?  A collective gasp when Dunlap went down.  He returned and all was right in the world.  Dunlap, appears to be the starter.
  • The protection last week wasn’t very good.  Needs to be much better and provide Rivers more time.  Fluker looked really good in the running game.  Excited to see if he can improve week to week in the passing game.  Decent pockets at times for Rivers, others forcing him to step up with pressure in his face.  But not a bad night for the group. 
  • Ryan Mathews…so good so far I took him in my fantasy league.  He’s running hard and looking very strong.  Another great game for Mathews up until that fumble.  Has to know that the defense is going to be looking for that after he attempted it a few times.
  • How busy is Mike Scifres?  Hopefully the offense finds consistency and establishes a nice rhythm early.  4 punts between both guys.  Not bad and the offense had a 13 play nearly 7 minute drive on their second possession that ended in a touchdown.  Good rhythm.
  • Ladarius Green has been a bright spot catching touchdowns from both backups.  Does he get some time with Rivers this week?  He’s going to force his way onto the field.  Another great catch and run.  
  • Mike Willie had a great week, consistency is key for him to ensure he makes this team.  Just one catch tonight and not a lot of production out of the WRs overall.
  • Robert Meachem – even with the injuries, he’s still a question mark.  Had 1 catch last week late.  Pretty sure Meachem will be cut as he is seeing limited playing time.  Although, he looked pretty good last night.
  • Second string O-Line – Troutman may not make this team.  Will be interested to see who takes snaps at center and guard.  Troutman was back in with the 2’s and seemed to fair better this time around.  Will be interesting to see what decisions are made for backups.

Special Teams

  • If this is the dress rehearsal, do we see some of the potential starters play on this unit.  Richard Marshall may be one of those guys.  We did and they responded.  While Marshall didn’t play, quite a few others did and they played well.  Good to see coaching come into play here to correct what had been a mistake prone unit.

Look forward to recapping the game on Sunday.

Go Bolts!

Justin Holmerud

One Response to Chargers vs. Cardinals: What We Saw

  • OPBolt says:

    Justin – nice recap.

    My biggest concern – In every picture I have seen of Mathews’ dives (last week and this week) he looks like Greg Louganis – with both arms out away from his body. For example, see the picture of the first play Saturday (see http://boltbeat.com/2013/08/25/san-diego-super-chargers-dominate-cardinals/ ). If you look closely at the video of the second dive which was posted on several Bolt groups yesterday you can see the same thing. As he launches the right arm goes forward, and then BANG, the defensive player hits his left arm and he fumbles. While I am thrilled by his performance so far, this is the kind of stuff that loses games.

    A little concerned about run defense, but maybe getting Liuget back firms this up.

    Like you, I love the potential of Whitehead. I am pretty unimpressed with the WRs so far, and think that the TE/RB passing plays are going to be critical to moving the chains.

    I have a man crush on Dwight Freeney. OMG, when we can get Ingram back —

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