As John said when he unceremoniously released a bunch of roster writers at the outset of training camp, "you can't make an omelet without breaking a few eggs." A.J. Smith has essentially done the same thing to start this season, and whether you agree with it or not, he has given the Chargers 2010 season the feeling of the old game show Press Your Luck.
In honor of the decision to play the 2010 season as a version of Press Your Luck (any season starting without a Pro Bowl left tackle and wide receiver qualifies), this season's game reviews will follow up with the Press Your Luck theme. Instead of As and Bs, will will have Big Bucks. Average players in the preseason will earn additional spins. And instead of bad grades, we will have whammies!
Preseason games are not really worth a major review, so instead I will focus on a handful of items that I was interested in watching. And, to my surprise, there was a lot to like.
Big Bucks, Extra Spins, and Whammies below the jump.
Talk about a position that held the possibility of opening the Chargers' season with whammies. After this game, I was essentially thinking... "Marcus McNeill who?" Stoning Julius Peppers was rather impressive, even if it's likely Peppers was pulling a half-assing it mindset for this preseason game. Instead of giving McNeill his desperately desired contract extension, I will give Brandyn Dombrowski and Tyrrone Green some "Big Bucks."
In midseason form, and besides, what's some Big Bucks added onto a $92 million contract? This will help him get some more stickers for his truck.
Ladies and Gentlemen, that is what burst, quickness, and strength looks like. Since it's been 2+ years since us Chargers' fans have seen that with any consistency, I have to admit I was astonished at how good he looked – especially shaking off Bears' LB Lance Briggs and turning a 2 yard loss into a 20 yard gain. Best of all, Mathews showed good hands, and protected the football. Needs to settle down a bit and learn to follow his blockers. All in all, an encouraging performance.
Defensive Tackle rotation
Holding the Bears to 48 yards on 21 carries was quite a nice change from last season. However, what really got my attention was how well Ogdemi Nwagbuo, Antonio Garay, and Cam Thomas pushed the middle of the pocket. Thomas netted 1 sack, and his pressure up the middle forced an interception. Moreover, their ability to keep the middle of the Bears' offensive line freed up blitzing Chargers linebackers and safeties to grab an additional 5 sacks.
I was hoping to see more from our receivers, something that would give me the kind of unfounded enthusiasm that Dombrowski and Green did at left tackle. No such luck, however, Legedu Naanee got loose following an early dropped pass for a terrific 28 yard TD catch from Rivers. On the play that knocked him out of the game, Buster Davis managed a nice 22 yard reception up the seam.
Both Jeremy Williams and Richard Goodman took advantage of good blocking for a pair of nice kickoff returns. Furthermore, LB Brandon Lang notched a marvelous blocked punt that resulted in a Chargers' safety in the 3rd quarter. With the exception of one return by Bears' CB Cornelius Brown, the teams did a solid job on punt and kickoff coverage.
Aside from the de rigeur Buster Davis injury, nothing bad happened. As for Buster, if there's one player who absolutely, positively, cannot afford to get hurt, it's him.
Hitting Jay Cutler
This can't happen often enough for my taste. I apologize to all of my wife's family (Packers fans) for not knocking him out for the rest of the season.
Ron Rivera's Aggression
I'm not quite sure yet whether I like that Rivera was running corner and safety blitzes, zone blitzes, stunts and twists in Week 1 of the preseason. Don't get me wrong, I like the aggression, especially when Jay Cutler is on the receiving end of some big hits. However, I don't like the idea of teams already getting a look at some of our blitz packages this early in the season. On the other hand, if this signals how aggressive Rivera intends to be, then bring it on.
I know, I know, penalties are as much the preseason as water is wet, and the sun rises in the east. But still, back to back false start penalties on the opening drive by RT Jeromey Clary are something less than excusable. Also, Ryon Bingham giving the Bears a second chance (on what turned out to be a TD drive) because you forgot an NFL rule change is just dumb.
Channel 8's Broadcast
Really Channel 8? That was really the best you could do? Ron Pitts mispronouncing names left and right - if not getting the names wrong completely? The player pictures that look stolen from my old copy of Madden 99 for the Playstation? The constant blips and drops in video and sound. That was awful, almost Mike Golic and Mike Greenburg broadcasting Week 1 last year awful.