Its The Performance That Is Important, Not The Score

This is the preseason, so you can feel free to forget the score; In my mind the Chargers still won on Sunday . They came away from that game with no major injuries and had their young players really step up and prove that they belong on this team.

OFFENSE

The first team offense never got into any real rhythm, struggling to consistently move the ball through the air. The run game was dominant - something that we have come to expect from this team. But the passing game faltered at times. Call it rust, but there were a few series on offense that made me scratch my head.

There was a span of three offensive plays in which they committed back-to-back penalties, and then gave up a sack.

There was another series in which the ball was thrown three times and resulted in Buster Davis fumbling, Malcolm Floyd dropping a pass, and Vincent Jackson fumbling.

It was clear that the pass blocking up front was not quite there yet, and neither was Philip Rivers. That is completely acceptable at this point in the year, but at least it gives the team something to work on.

Overall, not a great start for the first team offense but there were some bright spots. Malcolm Floyd had an outstanding game altogether. I watch how he catches the ball and runs with it and I wonder if I am looking at a Pro Bowler. He is in the best physical shape he has ever been, and is quietly emerging as the Chargers top receiver.

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Buster Davis looked smooth and quick. His hands, which are almost legendary at this point even though he has yet to catch a regular season pass, are soft and reliable. They are going to use him in much the same role that Parker has played the past few years, which means taking reverses, quick sideline routes, and hopefully big third down plays.

Vincent Jackson was dominant as a blocker and came up with a nice 13 yard catch. However, he did commit a fumble and will need to continue to work on securing the ball after the catch.

One of the most impressive performances came by way of Legedu Naanee and his four catches on the day. Used more as a wide receiver on Sunday rather than a Tight End, Naanee was smooth yet physical. He is a nice mid range target across the middle and has the size to absorb the hit. He is a very interesting guy who is now part of an impressive mix of receivers on the Chargers.

Another impressive rookie was Scott Chandler. He is a very large target who looked every part the rookie on the field, yet still made a bunch of plays based off natural ability. Once he gets his technique to improve and understands more deeply his role on the offense, he'll be a great auxiliary guy to steal a few catches away from Antonio Gates. Chandler is a guy who looks the most raw but at the same time, he is being asked to do many things on offense, not the least of which is to block.

One guy who really needed to have a great game was Darren Sproles, and he did just that. He did not dazzle as a returner, but he did make a bunch of plays on offense. As long as the right play is dialed up for him, he can be successful in moving the ball down field. The only problem is that he needs to impress as a returner because that is his primary role on this team. He is the third or fourth running back on the depth chart and won't carry the ball very much during the regular season. Andrew Pinnock displayed great hands catching the ball out of the backfield and is truely becoming more of a tailback rather than strictly a fullback. And added to the mix is also Tyronne Gross, who like last preseason, looked very impressive catching the ball and running it.

In regards to the offensive line, both the starters and the secondary teams had problems initially in pass protection. One of the more interesting players who is not a starter is Cory Lekkerkerker. He is firmly asserting himself as the team's best backup tackle not named Roman Oben. I think he is going to continue to improve and will perform just fine in spot duty. Having said that, he has the same trouble that Shane Olivea is guilty of, and that having only average footwork. Big Lek has a great initial hand punch and he gets into his pass protect base well. But he can over extend and fail to shuffle his feet, causing him to fall on his face against a shifty pass rusher. He needs to work on that, but he'll get better.

Coming soon:

Defense and Special Teams






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August 13, 2007

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