Chargers Need To Become More Consistent In Preseason


As the Chargers head into their second game of the preseason, they should be mindful about improving their consistency in both the run game and special teams. The Chargers lost their preseason opener to the Seattle Seahawks, but should still come away with some valuable lessons. If the Chargers are not able to run the ball with effectiveness or take advantage of field position opportunities, they'll be backing themselves against a wall, forcing themselves to pass the ball too much and becoming vulnerable to turnovers.


(Photo Credit: Mike Nowak/San Diego Chargers)

ESTABLISH THE RUN

The Chargers need to become a better running football team, period. Only twenty rushes per game is simply not going to cut it. If the Chargers throw the ball fifty times in a game, they'll obviously increase their chances of giving away interceptions. The Chargers are a great spread team, and operate and protect well out of the shotgun. The offensive line pass protects very well. However, they need to become better at the power running game. The offensive line needs to improve in their communications with each other. There were times against Seattle that the O-line failed to pickup their blocks and missed on screen plays that could have turned into huge gains. These guys will continue to gel, and I have no doubt that these mental breakdowns will get corrected. But the timing and execution is not there yet and it showed. Whether it's Jacob Hester getting a better feel of where Tomlinson wants to go, or if it's LT's vision and patience that need to sharpen up, there is plenty of room to improve in the run game.

EXECUTE ON SPECIAL TEAMS

Special teams is difficult to grade in the preseason because there are so many young guys who play in these packages. A good special teams unit is an established one. The Chargers are doing some experimentation right now, and as they should, since the preseason is the best time to do these types of evaluations.

Buster Davis had a nice showing as the team's starting return man. As he gets more comfortable back there, he'll use his blocks better and allow his speed to get him past defenders. Darren Sproles was one of the best returners in the game last year, but if the plan is to use him less in that role, then hopefully the drop off in production isn't dramatic.

Nate Kaeding missed about a 33 yard field goal attempt, which is out of character for a guy who has been one of the most accurate regular season kickers in the NFL. These kicks should be automatic... not sure what happened on that miss.

The Chargers also used backup punter Truman Spencer, and he was shaky. He punted the ball out of bounds and he also punted the ball into the endzone for an avoidable touchback. The Chargers are not used to giving up touchbacks when Mike Scifres is booming kicks with tremendous hang time. Spencer is likely just a camp kicker and probably won't make the final roster.

GENERATE MORE SACKS AND NEGATIVE PLAYS

I don't buy into the theory that simply pressuring or hurrying a QB is good enough. If an NFL quarterback cannot move in the pocket and deal with the pass rush pressure that inevitably comes in games, then he probably shouldn't be playing in the league.

Sacks not only take plays away from the offense, but they also create negative yardage. Pressure without sacks usually wont be enough. If the QB is chased out of the pocket but is still able to complete a pass downfield, then the pass rush was not successful. It's pretty simple isn't it? Create negative plays, and get hits on the Quarterback.

I think the Chargers have the personnel necessary to generate sacks. However, two of their featured pass rushers are limited by injury; Shawne Merriman is still working his way into becoming 100 percent again, and Larry English has been hampered by a nagging hamstring injury. These guys need the reps to get into their rhythm, and so it is important that they get a chance to use the preseason as a tune up. Aside from those two, I'm also anxious to see Jyles Tucker and Antoine Applewhite perform. If the Chargers decide to only carry five outside linebackers, Tucker and Applewhite would be competing to be that fifth OLB. Someone needs to stand out and show the team that not only are they versatile in being able to play both the SAM and the WILL, but they also need to get to the quarterback and make plays in the backfield.

***

I think the Chargers are incredibly deep; there won't be many available roster spots when final cuts are to be made. The preseason is a great time to evaluate the young guys and to see how they stack up both against each other and against some of the more established veterans. I think the Chargers will continue to improve each week and put themselves into position to win the division once again.


August 19, 2009

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10 comments:

Anonymous said... Aug 19, 2009, 1:51:00 AM

Your analyzing these games as if they we're "real games". We all know the team is focusing on their weaknesses and seeing whose going to fill those roles.

As for the run game, Hester better get his crap together or we won't be doing much running at all.

Anonymous said... Aug 19, 2009, 2:42:00 AM

It's pre season, don't expect to see explosive plays. Coaches are not going to reveal there real game plan. Pre season is for Vet's to get back into the groove of things and for the young players to strut there stuff. It gives them a taste of the NFL. I wouldn't be at all disappointed if the Chargers lose every exhibition game.

Nomad said... Aug 19, 2009, 5:19:00 AM

Always remember that Detroit was 4-0 in preseason last year. That really translated into a great season. Preseason games are to find where there are problems and fix them. Our execution was not great nor was it terrible. I expect our running game to be better this next game. As far as QB sacks and pressures, they rarely rushed more than 4. That will change in the regular season.

Anonymous said... Aug 19, 2009, 7:59:00 AM

C’mon Dawg.......It's the preseason! Don’t hit the panic button just yet. Being consistent in the preseason is the equivalent to having an irregular bowel movement. Once the regular season begins, the Chargers will be pooping silky smooth bolts of lightning all the way to their first Superbowl victory, save for the two-three times per the regular season they collectively eat some bad corn salsa.

Rob Zepeda said... Aug 19, 2009, 10:42:00 AM

@ Anonymous above ^

Haha! I'm not hitting the panic button, I just want to see the team improve week to week. I wonder if these slow starts during the regular season could be attributed to the fact that we have so many superstar players that don't play much during the preseason...

John said... Aug 19, 2009, 11:38:00 AM

Wow. One preseason game. Its the frist game. The shake it out game. The get back into it time. They played with a very limited play book. When they did go after the QB, they forced incompletions. They did put preassure on the QB when they wanted to. Teams that win all of there preseason games tend to have bad years. They will be a different come week one. They are working the players back into playing condition. You will see what they can do come game one. Forney was out of synic, due to missing time in camp. They use the preseaon as a training tool. They could care less about winning.

Soldier 93 said... Aug 19, 2009, 6:39:00 PM

You pointed some things that would matter if it were game 4 of preseason.Thats what it is all about make mistakes and fine turn the team. Get in Synic, get on the same sheet of music. THis team is not the same as before. They are very focused and doing this step by step to prepare for the real first game.

Anonymous said... Aug 20, 2009, 12:55:00 PM

Actually game three is when it will matter. Usually game 4 if for guys trying to make the team with a last push. Starters play very little in game four on most teams.

Watch the execution in game three. If the running game is still off and the defense has no push on the pocket then you can worry.

What I saw in week one was Rivers to Gates...and it looks like Gates is back. I saw Martin looking like a young, but very capable end. I saw friggin' Buster Davis look like a potential NFL player for a change, but I also saw Hester look like he doesn't understand positioning for blocking.

LT is working his way into stride and while I think it may be good early...I worry about wasting his aging legs when we have every expectation of playing in late January at the very least. He didn't look like the LT of the last Denver game though.

I also worry about what happens to us in coverage with Burnett out. With Burnett in...we look solid...and he was all over the field, but while Dobbins appears tough against the run...he can't cover. I think Burnett should start opposite Coop from what I've seen so far.

I think we'll be fine.

Anonymous said... Aug 20, 2009, 6:08:00 PM

Good points.
Main concern is lack of running game early with LT. 4 rushes for 10 yards. It was just way to reminiscent of last years running wowes. It is preason but we didnt look good early when the game most closely resembles regular season.
Burnett looked great as he flew around the field.
Awesome to see Buster catch a ball down field.
Whitehurst was shakey but loved how he came back after having a horrible night.
Big hits from Gregory and Ellison made the game more watchable.
Merriman did not look good. He looked very tentative. At the same time it made more sense for him not to play with reckless abandon his first game in almost a year.
Charly Martin showed his stuff. Probably looking at a practice squad spot unless he gets signed to another team.
Michael Bennett looked better than Gartrell. He was the one runner that actually had a little spark.

We just need our first team to get the run going. That will really make us one of the most dangerous offenses in the league.

Rob Ross said... Aug 22, 2009, 11:17:00 AM

I agree that it is important for the Chargers to show they can actually run the ball. Fans that think it's only the preseason and thus doesn't matter don't get it. If you think back to the years when the running games was strong under Marty and even back to the days of Bobby Ross, you could tell something special was going on IN THE PRESEASON. The Chargers haven't shown much in the run game for two years, another outing like last week(32nd in rushing) may expose a weakness on this team. I'm worried Norv is a bit too enamored of his passing game.

http://chargercrackback.blogspot.com/

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