What The Chargers Preseason Has Taught Us: Offense

With three weeks in the books for the 2009 NFL Preseason, we can begin to form some definitive opinions about our favorite teams. The San Diego Chargers have shown us a nice preview as to what we can expect from them in the regular season. Let's go over what the Bolt's offense has shown us thus far:

(Photo Credit: Mike Nowak/San Diego Chargers)


It's dangerous to read too much into statistics during the preseason, especially at the quarterback position. But if someone hadn't had the opportunity to watch both Philip Rivers and Billy Volek play this preseason, the numbers are a pretty good indicator to how impressive those two have been. Combined, Rivers and Volek have completed 42 out of 58 pass attempts for 617 yards, 3 touchdowns, and zero interceptions. Both quarterbacks have maintain passer ratings above 114.2 and both are averaging over 10 yards per pass. Going into this season, we knew that Rivers earned the right to be considered a elite QB, and he has continued to put that assertion beyond doubt.

Billy Volek, on the other hand, wasn't necessarily considered to be much more than a serviceable backup. However his performance this preseason has not only opened the eyes of Chargers fans, but he has also impressed his head coach;

"I can't say how happy I am with the way Billy Volek is playing," says Head Coach Norv Turner. "He's really gone to another level in terms of his understanding of what we are doing [offensively]. You line up all these guys that play in this league and Billy there with them, he throws the ball as well as anyone in this league."


Vincent Jackson continues to play at an extremely high level, and has in many minds emerged as one of the best wide receivers in the league. His spectacular one-handed catch against the Atlanta Falcons in the third preseason game was a public display of the type of catches he has been quietly making in practice all training camp long. Not only is Jackson blessed with rare physical tools, but he is also a smart football player who does the little things right. Hard-working, tough, and studious, Jackson is as impressive mentally as he is physically.

Says Quarterback Philip Rivers, "I know I've said this numerous times in the past, but he's physically as talented and as strong and fast as there is in this league. With experience and as you progress through your career, you get better. I think, his continued work and understanding the mental part of the game, the concepts of what we are trying to do...not only what route he runs, but why and what what we are trying to get done; he has a great understanding of this offense. He is a big-play receiver, but I think he also has a great feel as a possession receiver. He can do it all; he's turned himself into a complete player."


We've seen the Chargers air the ball out this preseason, and that's not a fluke. The Chargers will be a team that looks for the big play down field. With and elite QB and so many quality receivers on the roster, the Chargers will take shots down the field and will look to gain big chunks of yardage at any time. Not only are they more than capable of converting on third and long, they are also showing that they are a deadly screen-pass team.


We know the Bolts will feature a prolific passing offense, but will they be able to run the ball with the same type of effectiveness? Through three preseason weeks, bright spots in the run game have been few and far between. Gartrell Johnson is a pounding, downhill runner who as a rookie still has much to learn. He broke an impressive 42 yard run, the longest Chargers run this preseason.

Michael Bennett has made his case to be a part of the 2009 Chargers. They were some who doubted he'd find a spot on a crowded San Diego roster, but Bennett is all but assure of a spot on the team. Norv Turner has liked what he has seen from Bennett and he is likely the top backup to Ladainian Tomlinson. Bennett has a nose for the endzone and still has great speed. He'll be a contributor this season.

Much of the Chargers' woes running the ball have been due to inconsistent line play. The offensive line is still looking for an identity, especially at right guard. Kynan Forney is the veteran the Chargers were hoping to plug in, but he has been hampered by injury. Louis Vasquez, the rookie with impressive physicality, has shown enough to be considered for the starting position. This is a battle that will rage on into the first week of the season and until a starting five is named, the Chargers' offensive line will struggle to find their rhythm. I want to see more from them as a group in the run game. They are a fine pass blocking line, but they need to push the line of scrimmage and bully defenses.


Are there any observations from the preseason that you'd like to share? Please do so in the comments section below. And don't forget to follow BOLTHYPE on Twitter!

September 2, 2009

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Mark said... Sep 2, 2009, 7:19:00 AM

One person of note not mentioned in this article, Malcolm Floyd. He made a great leaping catch in the Falcon game, and he is just about the same size as V-Jackson, although maybe a little bigger.

He is one of the underrated receivers we got and he is due for a big year.
Sadly, I do not see us re-signing Chris Chambers after this season. We are now pretty well stocked at wide receiver- although Buster Davis still has something to prove.

Mark said... Sep 2, 2009, 7:21:00 AM

Louis Vasquez made a great block on the long screen pass-run by Michael Bennett against the Falcons. He may be able to get a starting job.

Anonymous said... Sep 2, 2009, 12:33:00 PM

i think on of our biggest problems is that we don´t have a talented fullback and that´s whats keeping LT from breaking tackles and making a big play, i dont know if tolbert will be ready or is it going to be hester but we need to have a pretty good fullback to give enough room for LT to break tackles and read the defense

Neoplatonist Bolthead said... Sep 2, 2009, 2:04:00 PM

I think the Chargers' running offense will get yet another slow start, but by midseason the line should be ready to spring LT back into classic form, kind of like 2007. A lot depends on McNeill: if the Chargers can consistently run to the left they'll be hard to stop, as defenses will also be forced to defend against multiple receiving threats on every down and won't be able to stack the box. This will also take pressure off Clary, reducing his susceptibility to speed-rushers.

Anonymous said... Sep 2, 2009, 3:45:00 PM

Fullback is not that big of an issue in Norv Turner's offense, plus Brandon Manu and Kris Wilson are fine backups or can work as H-Backs/hybrid blockers.
What the Charger's o line needs is to punish and push people off the line of scrimmage,

Anonymous said... Sep 2, 2009, 8:34:00 PM

I could careless about preseason. In the army we use the crawl,walk and run mind set to train. Thats what preseason is all about. They will go into the run phase when the regular season starts. going 4-0 in preseason means very little. We will know how good they are after week 3 or 4.

SEC Football Info said... Sep 3, 2009, 8:13:00 PM

The Chargers should be the favorite to win the division again this year.


Anonymous said... Sep 3, 2009, 11:21:00 PM

anyone complaining about our offense might be retarded

Anonymous said... Sep 4, 2009, 1:09:00 PM

I just happened to be at the Chargers vs. Falcons game last week along with my son, brother, and best friend. What we saw initially is that there is an army of Bolt fans out there and this isn't a fluke. There is a feeling in the air, even all the way out in the Dirty Bird South that the Chargers ARE the team this year. While I didn't like the fact that the Chargers put themselves in third-and-long situations numerous times, it was the Falcons fans who in turn became the disgusted ones. Oh……you should have heard the sniveling.....it was quite embarrassing to say the least. From our live stand point, it is obvious the O-Line needs to toughen / shore themselves up and not commit so many penalties (It really wasn’t that loud in the GA Dome). However, we did see glimpses of nastiness and solid play.

The defense as well played a little spotty, but that will improve tremendously as the season progresses. Hopefully and with a little luck, our team will remain healthy to the point it won't be as disruptive as it was last year when Lights Out went down. Also, my goodness put some stick'em or something on those hands. There were two dropped INTs from our first liners. Can't let that happen!

In all, I think San Diego and the rest of the NFL world got a taste of what this team is capable last Saturday night and don't think the Chargers' opponents haven't noticed. Just by the sneers and jeers coming from the Falcons' fans, as I heard multiple times........This team (Chargers) are going all the way. They, the Falcons' fans can only hope that they are right there along with them at the Superbowl.

PS – The derogatory term for vagina was used to describe LT not playing - were countered by the fact that Atlanta isn’t ready to witness such greatness. That said, I still wish Burner Turner was on the Bolts roster!

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