Yes, the Chargers blew another late lead. Yes, that seems to happen very often with this team here in San Diego. However, let's remember that in last year's season opener, the Chargers blew a 21 point lead at home to a team that would only win one more game for the rest of the season. The Cardinals won 10 games in 2013 and boasted one of the best defenses in the league. It's never good to start the season with a loss, but better days are ahead for the Bolts.
Reasons for Optimism
Jerry Attouchu made his presence felt early in his career. He blocked a punt that led to a Chargers field goal, and had a strip-sack that led to a touchdown. He displayed his impressive quickness in beating the right tackle around the edge.
Jason Verrett was fantastic. I cannot say enough how excited for his future. His footwork, aggressiveness, and physicality stood out as he played like a 5-year veteran. He only allowed 2 yards after the catch on 3 receptions, and had the second highest grade for all cornerbacks from Pro Football Focus. Keep doing what you're doing.
Making his return from last year's scary neck injury, Floyd started the season off with 50 yards and a touchdown. He could have had a lot more on a deep pass as he had his man beat, but a slight slip in the route caused the pass to be slightly overthrown. In any case, he showed what the Chargers were missing out on last year, a true deep threat.
The Front Seven
The defense got off to a surprisingly strong start in 2014. Corey Liuget continued to build on his strong preseason. Sean Lissemore played well against the run in limited snaps. Manti Te'o played more aggressively en route to one of the best performance in his young career. The icing on the cake was how well Dwight Freeney played. Even at age 34 and coming off quad surgery, Freeney racked up 6 quarterback hurries. I would like to see him finish more often, but I am happy to see him back in opponents' backfields.
Reasons for Concern
Offense Out of Sync
This was Frank Reich's first game as an NFL offensive coordinator, and it showed. The team struggled to move the ball for most of the game. Philip Rivers uncharacteristically forced a few passes. The offensive line had a hard time picking up the blitz, especially on the final drive. These are the kinks that the Chargers will have to work out, and in a hurry. With the news of Nick Hardwick's season-ending neck injury, the offensive line faces an uphill battle. Oh, and I am still waiting for a good reason that Ladarius Green is not seeing the field more.
PFF has San Diego down for 7 drops on offense (3 from Eddie Royal). PFF also had them down for 24 drops, for all of 2013. They reached almost 30% of their season total in one game and that doesn't even count the dropped interceptions from each of the starting safeties. This is a huge concern for an offense that was the model of efficiency last year. However, since it is mainly the same cast as last year I will give them the benefit of the doubt and assume that this game was a one-time occurrence.
Melvin Ingram & Kendall Reyes
My patience for Ingram to become a breakout star is quickly running out. He was the team's fifth-best linebacker on Monday. He flashes ability to get close to the quarterback, but can never seem to finish the play. He also accounted for two of the teams' 4 missed tackles. The athletic ability has always been there, he just hasn't found a way to put it all together.
As for Kendall Reyes, it appears as though his only value is as a 3-technique pass rusher. If the team continues to have him start and expect him to hold up against the run, they should start looking for his replacement soon.