Preseason Impressions, Week 3: Chargers vs. Cardinals

Following a surprisingly exciting 34-31 win over the Arizona Cardinals, the Chargers left me with very mixed feelings regarding their overall performance. The passing game under Philip Rivers was not clicking like it has in previous games against the Seahawks and Cowboys, yet at times they played like they were in mid-season form. The running game was mostly painful to watch, but watching Michael Tolbert rumble for tough yardage along with a 48-yard rush by Mathews leaves one with some hope. The defense looked a lot like last years edition, in that it had the ability to disrupt the opposing offense, while still breaking down and giving up big plays at crucial times. So what is one to make of it all?

Remembering that this is just another preseason game (albeit, the most important preseason game for starters), ideally the Chargers were able to focus on a specific plan and situational schemes that had nothing to do with the Cardinals. The Cardinals seemed to be blitzing often on defense, killing the Chargers running game for the most part and getting in Rivers’ face a few times. It looked like the Chargers had not prepared for that, and they were still able to rise above it more often than not.

The Chargers defense, minus their stud nose tackle Antonio Garay and three outside linebackers including Pro Bowler Shaun Phillips were beaten almost as often as they were not. Larry Fitzgerald had over 100 yards receiving on three receptions. The Cardinals top two running backs averaged over six-yards per carry. You could call it a poor performance in a meaningless game, or you could call it a wake-up call at a perfect time. These guys have a chance to be great but they have a lot of work to do to get to that point.

There were a number of good things that you can take from Saturday’s win over the Cardinals, but there were some obvious opportunities for improvement.

The Good

1. The Chargers receivers looked great. Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd are looking ready to dominate this season.

2. Young receivers give the Chargers options. Richard Goodman and Brian Walters are putting up a tough fight to make the 53-man roster.

3. Corey Liuget is the man. Liuget had a heck of a game. If he wasn’t double-teamed, he consistently pushed into the backfield, in effect forcing a fumble in the 4th quarter that led to a defensive touchdown.

The Bad

1. Ryan Mathews fumbled. The Chargers recovered, but that doesn’t matter. The kid has yet to prove that he can protect the football.

2. Run defense. Yes, it’s just the preseason, but the Chargers run defense was less than impressive for the 2nd straight game. This has to get better before they face Adrian Peterson in week 1 and the powerful running games of the Raiders and Chiefs later in the season.

3. Stephen Cooper. You have to hand it to the guy for trying to play through a torn biceps, but he looked ineffective Saturday night. I can’t see him making the team. Maybe he will stick around as an unofficial coach?

You saw Saturday night’s win over the Cardinals…what were the good and bad from your point of view?

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August 29, 2011

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