Add the quarterback rating of Drew Brees and Philip Rivers together and you still don’t have a quality starting signal caller. They were both awful and it is hard to say who was worse since Brees’ sampling was somewhat smaller. Brees has a pick that was purely his fault. He also threw an out to Kassim Osgood that called for an in. Hard to say who was at fault but Osgood looked at Brees as if he was on Mars. The problem with the play was Brees never came up to Osgood to hash out the issue. Rivers had a touchdown taken away from him. He also had a few other receptions that were dropped including three on one drive in the third quarter. Then he was tagged for intentional grounding – not even close to whether it was the right call – it was. And his interception was just dumb. Three players were in the area and the fourth who could barely be seen was the only Charger.
Doug Flutie stole the show – “just like he does every practice,” Will Mortensen explains. Flutie was a stud until he fumbled. Despite that tactical error, he was sharp as the general and proved that at least he doesn’t need many reps to be effective. It is the reason he is such a fantastic backup. When you think about them keeping four quarterbacks, it is a lot more believable because of Doug.
LaDainian Tomlinson made his preseason debut and got three touches. Two runs and one reception. Then he was done – and will be done for the rest of the preseason. No other back showed much. The Bolts did most of their running in the first half and earned 28 yards. Take away the eight from LT on two runs and you have 20 yards on eight carries. Michael Turner has shown some flashes – knocking over guys – but not enough to comfort. Calvin Murray showed up in the passing game a day late and a dollar short.
Kevin Dyson simply hasn’t looked good. The grass has only been slippery for him as the rest of the receivers seem to be able to keep their feet. Osgood has been consistent and goes until the whistle blows. Luke Powell had been missing but found a friend in Flutie and caught two of the three passes sent his way. Mattos and Welker each caught a pass and not much else. Micah Ross and Ruvell Martin each had a number of passes sent their way but no catches – problem.
Josh Norman is asking to be dismissed. His drop, and as a receiver in the NFL it was a drop, started a chain reaction. Blocked kick. Touchdown. Down by 17. By the count, Norman dropped four passes on the day. Brock Edwards has silently played well and could stick around. The undrafted free agent caught the lone touchdown reception and has picked up his game to the point where drafted player Ryan Krause may be getting worried.
Nick Hardwick and Toniu Fonoti were blown up at the line on the Chargers second series, giving Brees no chance when he was sacked. Hardwick played pretty well otherwise. His shotgun snaps need work but he did well on one-on-one blocking. Roman Oben and Mike Goff both looked a little lost on the Chargers staple – the reverse. Goff is pulling well to his left but did not look good going right. Oben played well at left tackle, switching over from the right side. He was responsible for getting Rivers sacked in the second quarter.
Shane Olivea handled him well through the first quarter and a half. In fact, it didn’t appear Olivea missed a single block in the first quarter, but it started to fall apart late in the second for Olivea. He missed several assignments and got busted up on the play before the blocked field goal. He then got beat on several more occasions by Chike Okeafor, one causing the intentional grounding. Courtney VanBuren entered the game in the second half at left tackle and played well. He maintained positioning in his pass block sets. He does lunge occasionally but has the quick feet to make up for it. He is also a finisher and does not take plays off, going until the whistle.
The run blocking overall wasn’t good. Communication seemed to be missing as several members in the middle took the wrong man – leaving one man to run free.
The starting line wasn’t very good, save one series where they stuffed two consecutive short yardage plays. They barely got any push and when they were stood up – only Jamal Williams was throwing up his hands to block the throwing lanes. Williams held his own at the point of attack but Adrian Dingle didn’t register a hand – he didn’t get a hand on a single ball carrier. He was blown off his assignments with regularity. Igor Olshansky did not show much either. It wasn’t until Dave Ball came in the game that things got interesting on the line. Ball has been relentless with his play. Jacques Cesaire has been a pleasant surprise in short yardage. He has gotten penetration and opened holes for his linebackers.
Steve Foley was active again. He had a few plays where he was a split second away from changing the game, just missing a few sacks, etc. Shaun Phillips made the plays that Foley was just missing on. His speed is something the Chargers have not had in years. Zeke Moreno had a good game. It was so good he tackled his own man late in the second quarter. Spun around, Moreno corralled Jerry Wilson and brought him to the ground thinking he was a Seahawk. Stephen Cooper was again on top of his game, coming up big in short yardage and showing a nose for the ball. Ben Leber and Randall Godfrey were quiet.
Terrence Kiel had his best game as a Charger. It could not have come at a better time. Sammy Davis and Quentin Jammer each played pretty well but they were really no match for a more talented set of receivers and good throws from their quarterback. Jammer and Davis were often right on the heels of the receivers but the throw was often just right. Kwamie Lassiter and Jerry Wilson have been a step slow to the play since the preseason started. Jamar Fletcher and Robb Butler laid some hits on their men in the second half. Fletcher proved to be a sure tackler while undrafted Jonathan Cox did not.
Bill LaFleur never had a chance anyway. Mike Scifres had another good game, getting a ball downed on the one yard line by long snapper David Binn. It always amazes when Binn is one of the first guys down the field on special teams. Kassim Osgood looked like he saved the ball from going in the end zone, but that play is under review in my booth and came up inconclusive. Wes Welker broke one 81 yards and has shown to be elusive enough to win the job. He doesn’t have much speed. He doesn’t have the size. He doesn’t have much – but he somehow gets it done on a regular basis. Everything broke down on the blocked punt. From not enough air to a middle of the line that faltered. It was ugly.
At half, the coaching staff made adjustments. They say they did not get more aggressive but looking at the film proves different. They attacked a lot more in the second half and were all over the place trying to make plays. Coach Crosby may have had one game to his credit but that has ended. His reign hasn’t been good and having a line falter, as it did, falls on his shoulders. You can't coach drops, or poorly thrown balls.