This is an idea I always liked: wrapping up games by giving individual performance reviews. Usually I'd use this space up here to tell the story of the game (or a story from the game) and how the final score ended up where it was. Since this is the preseason, the story and the score mean absolutely nothing. Onto BFTB's new feature: Bolts & Dolts
Michael Bennett - 6 carries, 21 yards, 1 TD. I never like Bennett until I see him with the ball in his hands. I think it's because I was excited for his potential with the Vikings and he never panned out. Is he a star in the NFL? No, but he makes a fine backup RB in a pinch (he fills the role for the Chargers as well as Mewelde Moore, another ex-Viking, does for the Steelers).
Billy Volek - 8/12, 122 yards. He looked as sharp, if not sharper, than the Chargers starter. He was accurate and poised, and looked like he was heads-and-shoulders above the other "backups" he was playing against.
Charly Martin - 5 receptions, 67 yards, 3 kick returns (24.0 average). I'm sold. This kid should get a roster spot. As sports becomes athlete vs. athlete, the guys that make the biggest difference are those annoying, gnat-like players that won't go away and make the athlete's doubt themselves. Those are also the guys you want on your team because they'll make everyone else step up their level of hustle. I'm convinced that there's no difference between Charly Martin and Wes Welker.
Gary Banks (3 rec, 31 yds),
Buster Craig Davis (3 rec, 64 yds), Kris Wilson, (3 rec, 49 yds), Legedu Naanee (3 rec, 30 yds, 1 TD, 3 yds rushing). Seattle's secondary was beat up to begin with, and since teams are usually playing defense without a blitz it's a time where secondaries look worse than usual. With that being said, these four guys stood out to me. Naanee could replace Floyd without a drop-off. Wilson is a legitimate pass-catching TE that can also block, which is always a fun tool to have in goal-line situations. Banks always looks fast with the ball in his hands. Davis quietly pulled in the longest catch of the night.
Antonio Gates - 3 rec, 17 yds. I know that doesn't look very impressive, but if you watched the first series you know what I'm talking about. It's almost like Norv was testing him. With the defense focused on him, Gates out-quicked and out-positioned the defenders...and he made it look easy. This looked like 2007 Gates to me.
Kevin Burnett - 6 total tackles, 5 solo tackles. Didn't notice he was out there? You wouldn't the only one, but he was a breath of fresh air to me. I can see why they like his coverage skills, he covers like a shutdown corner. I don't know how he stays so close to them without getting tripped up, honestly. What I was more impressed with was everything else. He read running plays well and attacked. One of the surest-tacklers on the defense last night, which is why he ended up the leader in tackles. Reminded me of Stephen Cooper, and that can only be a good thing. When he was on the field with Dobbins, you could see he was the better player.
Brandon Hughes - 5 total tackles. He got burned on the play-action TD to Seattle's TE. So did Steve Gregory. They both bit on the fake and didn't see the TE behind them until it was too late. With that being said, Hughes got better as the game went on (and the first-teamers left the field). He's very smooth in coverage and is a much better tackler than he gets credit for. I don't know that he beats out Cletis Gordon as the 4th corner, but I'm no longer against that if it happens.
Antoine Cason - 1 tackle, 3 passes defensed. Just as we've been saying since the beginning of last season, Cason is good enough to be a number 1 cornerback on more than half of the teams in the NFL. He never gets caught off-guard and has tremendous ball-skills. He could probably be a good wide receiver if he wanted to be. If the Chargers ever moved him to Safety, as was whispered before the draft, he would be just fine.
Luis Castillo - 2 tackles. No stats, but he was slipping through the line and getting penetration consistently. He was effective at stopping the run game.
Mike Scifres - 4 punts, 46.0 average, 3 punts inside opponent's 20 yard line. No rust to knock off. Can I fill out my Pro Bowl ballot now?
Charlie Whitehurst - 15/29, 193 yds, 1 TD, 2 INTs, 1 Fumble Lost. I wish I could've left him off, but I couldn't. While he did an admirable job of handling the clipboard during the first half, the second half didn't go as well. If he's hoping to catch on as a backup QB, instead of a third stringer, somewhere else next season he's going to have to put up a better performance against backup players. One of his interceptions was Buster Davis' fault, but his second interception was bad enough to count for two. Outside of his two-minute drill, which basically consisted of "Find Charly Martin, throw to Charly Martin", Whitehurst was just awful.
Gartrell Johnson - 5 carries, 8 rush yds, 2 rec, 15 rec yards. Another stake through my heart. While the Chargers running game was awful all night (21 carries, 55 yards), no other Bolts runner dipped below 2.0 YPC besides Gartrell. It seemed every time he touched the ball he was immediately swallowed up. The team's going to need to see more than that.
Chris Chambers - 1 catch, 4 yards. Where the heck was he? Completely and totally invisible against a poor secondary. The thing that made Chambers special, even when the Chargers traded for him, was that he was a deep-threat. I don't see that from him anymore and the corners that are covering him are not afraid to stay on top of him.
Nate Kaeding - 0/1 FGs, 2/2 XPs. Not a good sign to be missing FGs from inside the opponent's 20.
Shawne Merriman - 1 solo tackle. I know, I know. First game back. I'm sure he'll get better, but he looked scared last night. There was not a single bullrush and he avoided any piles. Maybe his knee is bothering him or maybe he remembers how much he hated missing the entire season last year. Either way, he's going to be disappointed when he watched the film and sees how hesitant he was.
Playcalling/Coaching - Zero Sacks. I know it's a preseason game and you don't typically blitz, but....no coverage sacks? No nothing? Seattle had 4 sacks and it didn't look like they tried very hard to get them. Preseason is a time to play with things and see if they work.