First off, this preseason game will be the first time that the 2010 Chargers took the field to face anyone other than themselves. Manage your expectations. Don’t expect the offense to go out there and look like the offense the last 11 weeks of the 2009 season. Don’t expect the defense to go out there and stifle the bears offense and sack Cutler 4-5 times. Additionally, the schemes that we will see in the game will not be any exotic passing plays or innovative blitzing schemes: we will see “plain jane” schemes to analyze how the new players will perform in their base duties.
Many of the questions about our starters will not be answered in this game. The following questions will not be answered:
-Can Floyd be the #1 WR?
-Is Cason a viable starter at CB?
-Is the offensive line improved this season?
However, after the jump I will show you that although the starters will only be playing 1-2 series, there are many important questions that can still be addressed during this game.
For the Rookies and UDFA’s, although they have been working hard on the field and making some impressions with the coaches, this is the real first impression that they will be putting on tape for the coaching staff. Many coaches and analysts will rave about a player in practice, yet see a completely different player when he gets into a game situation. For some players they unleash an “inner beast” that you hadn’t been seeing in practice. For others, they will freeze up, too afraid to make a mistake.
Organized by position, here are questions that I will be looking to address:
No unanswered questions on Rivers or Volek, we know what they can do in games. The question at this position is about Crompton and how he looks. Does he have a strong arm? Can he make all the throws? Can he anticipate throws before his receiver is open? Can he identify the blitz? Being his first NFL exposure, it’s not fair to expect him to be able to do all of these things, but if he can already do one or two of those, then that definitely tells us something.
We should see a good bit of Mathews, but likely not enough to satisfy us. We know what Sproles can do. The questions here will be focused on the RB3 position:
-Does Marcus Mason continue to show himself to be a preseason stud?
-Does Shawnbrey McNeal have the potential to replace Sproles in the future?
-Can Curtis Brinkley surprise?
Looks like Tolbert and Hester have this locked down. BUT, there is an option that if none of the other RB’s show promise and another FB steps up and shows he can’t be left out, Tolbert could be moved over to RB3 and a guy like Latsko or Brockel(FB/TE) could slide in. But frankly, that’s a longshot, and the day of the pure lead blocking FB is gone in SD in my opinion.
We’ll see Gates, and he will be phenomenal as always. After that, show me McMichael…show me Wilson. I want to see these guys compete.
-Is McMichael is good of a blocker as Wilson?
-Is Wilson as good of a receiver as McMichael?
-How does Epps look? Does he warrant a spot on the Practice Squad?
Floyd will look good in limited reps, and Naanee may not get enough reps for us to decide if he can fill the #2 role.
-Can CBD shine? Can he stay healthy?
-How does Josh Reed look when compared to the youngsters?
-Can Gary Banks continue off his preseason successes last year and hold off the youngsters?
-Who wins the UDFA WR battle: Ajirotutu or Williams? (I’m pulling for ‘Tutu and I’m sure his ex-roommate “Bam-bam” is too)
We will see a bit of our starters, and maybe even get to see Dombrowski face Julius Peppers for a few snaps, so I’ll be watching that for sure. After the starters, I’ll be watching Tyronne Green. I also really want to see what Nick Richmond looks like. If he has any sort of athleticism, he could have potential because he is a monster. We had 8 different starters along the O-Line last year, so there was a lot of valuable experience gained by the unit and I would like to see how the backups have improved.
I think we only have one defined starter on this roster on the D-Line: Castillo. Other than that, the positions are up for grabs so this will be great to watch throughout the game. Another number to note: the Chargers had 9 different starting D-Linemen last season, meaning that a lot of these guys have loads of experience that they are building on from last season...but also that a lot of guys are returning from injury.
-Is Martin improved over last year? Can he beat out Cesaire?
-Can Thomas or Nwagbuo push Garay for the starting spot at NT?
-Can Jones make a splash and surprise people?
-Does Travis Johnson start to make good on his 1st round pedigree?
-Can Boone or Bingham distinguish themselves to save from being pushed out by youngsters?
I hope we get to see more of English than we will of our other starters, because we all want to know if he can replace Merriman. Replacing Merriman of 2009 will be much easier than replacing Merriman of 2006-2007.
-Of the 3 ILB’s, who will be opening day starters: Burnett, Cooper, and Siler?
-Applewhite: can he beat out Tucker at backup OLB? Will the team try out Applewhite at ILB? (I think he could be a monster here in certain passing situations)
-Who looks better between Beckwith and Holt?
-Can Brandon Lang land on the practice squad?
Unfortunately our questions on Cason probably won’t be answered tomorrow, and Jammer will be solid as always. Too bad we won’t get to see Stuckey. I look forward to seeing more Strickland and Vasher. But here is my biggest question for tomorrows game at CB:
-Does Traye Simmons continue to be the pick machine that he’s been in camp?
Also, some others:
-Who is a better backup FS: Oliver or Spillman?
-Who’s this Quinton Teal guy?
So as you can see I have lots of questions about some of the depth on the roster. There is no way that this one game tomorrow will answer all of these questions, but it will definitely be a first step towards answering some of them. Let’s hope for an injury free pre-season game to kick off the Chargers 2010 Season.