Previewing the Monday Night Opener - WK 01, 2010

Getting onto the field might be the perfect respite for the Chargers players who have been inundated with questions about the guys not in the locker room all throughout training camp. This Bolts team should be galvanized and ready to play for the one collective goal of each member in that locker room when their season begins with the weekend’s final kickoff Monday night.

Marcus McNeill and Vincent Jackson may be the two most talked about Bolts this offseason, but the Chargers are more than comfortable with the players being asked to fill in for those two this year. Monday night’s season opener will be the first true test for both Brandyn Dombrowski protecting quarterback Philip Rivers’ blindside and Malcom Floyd trying to be Rivers’ top target on the outside.

For Dombrowski, the Bolts have been adamant that they have the utmost confidence in his abilities and will not be using any extra blockers to help him in one on one situations. That will most likely pit him against Tamba Hali who is arguably the Chiefs best pass rusher and has really taken to his role in their new 3-4 defensive scheme as an outside linebacker. Dombrowski went up against some big name pass rushers during the preseason in Demarcus Ware and Julius Peppers, but nothing compares to the regular season and fingers are crossed that he will be up for the challenge.

As for Floyd, the Chargers aren’t worried about him at all on the outside with the number of other targets available in their arsenal. General Manager A.J. Smith addressed the wide receiver position before the final roster cut down by acquiring Patrick Crayton from the Dallas Cowboys via trade and Legedu Naanee is also more than capable of being a reliable underneath option for Rivers. That’s without even mentioning the presence of tight end Antonio Gates who is as always the number one option on most progressions for Rivers anyway.

Perhaps the biggest test for the Bolts in this opening game will be observing just how well their defense filled with presumed no-name players can handle the Chiefs rushing attack. Kansas City had a back more than capable of carrying the load after last year with Jamaal Charles, but they added a second horse to the stable in veteran Thomas Jones. After his most statistically productive season, Jones was let go by the New York Jets and quickly signed with the Chiefs where he will give them a dynamic one-two punch in the backfield. Containing the run will be a major factor in just how the Bolts fair in the opening week’s action as they look to break in a number of new and inexperienced starters on defense.

It’s never fun to have to talk about injuries, but considering the infirmary report after week one last year, the Chargers really have to be hoping that they can escape this opening tilt without a laundry list of ailments. Last year against the Oakland Raiders, San Diego left the opening game with Nick Hardwick out for three months of action and their young developing guard Louis Vasquez out for a few weeks as well. The positive to that from last season was the discovery and development of Dombrowski who began at right guard and transitioned all along the line by year’s end. Of course the negative is losing the anchor of the line for more than three months and struggling to gain any sort of continuity down in the trenches.

Special teams is never the most popular topic to dwell on going into a game, but it has to mentioned for the Bolts after last season. Even though the Chargers want to score touchdowns in this opening week showdown, all eyes will be on kicker Nate Kaeding if they are forced to settle for three. After his nightmare of a game in last year’s postseason, the Chargers must have some reservations about his mental state heading into this new season. Kaeding has been fragile in crucial stages of games before, but the team just has to stay behind him and hope that he is able to regain his confidence to split the uprights in the playoffs like he has during the regular season.

Now let’s hear from the fans on this week one matchup. Will Dombrowski be okay without help against Hali against the Chiefs, or will he be exposed trying to protect Rivers’ blindside? Do the Chargers have enough weapons at the receiver position to continue their aerial success, or will Rivers struggle to find receivers? Is this no-name Bolts defense up to the challenge of the Chiefs rushing attack, or will they be trampled in the process? Can Kaeding bounce back from his playoff collapse last season, or will the Bolts be left searching for a new kicker sooner rather than later? Please give your input below!

September 13, 2010

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Jason said... Sep 13, 2010, 10:11:00 AM

Dombrowski's gonna be tested, for sure. I think he'll be OK, but we'll find out how tough he is tonight...Hali is no joke.
Call me crazy, but I really don't see a dropoff in the passing game. Think about this: If Mathews can be at least 3/4 of the back everyone seems to think he is, that's a HUGE improvement and will keep defenses honest. Plus, you can't cover everyone, and PR will find the open man...I'm thinking McMichael makes a big impact in 2 TE sets-he won't put up gaudy numbers, but he'll free up other guys just because the D has to account for him. Of course I'd feel better if we had VJ back, but I don't see the passing game being worse, just different.
Run D is my biggest worry, but I'm hoping Rivera has coached em up and it seems like we can rotate Garay and Cam and keep a fresh body in the middle. Needless to say, Cason is a big improvement on run/short pass support, he actually wants to tackle someone once in a while. The jury's out on this one, we'll see soon enough.
As for Kaeding, who knows? When I heard he was seeing a sports psychologist in the off season, I thought, "uh-oh...this whole sports psychologist thing never turns out well". Dude's a hell of a kicker, but this "choke" thing has been so blown up by the media it's taken a life of it's own. Prove 'em wrong, Nate!

It's been fun giving my opinion on things that I really don't know squat about, but tonight it starts, and that's what matters!!!! GOOOOOOOOOO BOLLLLLLTS!

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