We all know the fourth preseason game is probably the least meaningful of all preseason games. The starters will barely play, if at all, the gameplan will be even more vanilla than normal, and the field will be cluttered with future Walmart and Shell station employees With that in mind, I'm not going to try to fire you up for a glorified freshman football game. That said, here is what I'll be watching for tonight...
The first thing I'll be watching is how the Chargers go about running the ball. While it's just the preseason, the Chargers have been very predictable with their running game through the first three games. This is especially true of Melvin Gordon who generally only carries the ball on first or second down and runs almost exclusively behind the tandem of Hunter Henry and Derek Watt. This was particularly noticeable on Sunday in Minnesota, so I'll be watching to see if Ken Whisenhunt mixes things up, or if the focus on getting Melvin going has made them a little lazy in terms of play calling.
Based on his performance on Sunday, I'd say Spencer Pulley is worth a closer look. The UDFA acquitted himself very well against a talented Vikings defensive line, holding his own and not doing anything to hurt the team, reaffirming the coaches faith in him in the process. I look forward to the second act, I want to see if he can build on it against a talented, if inexperienced, 49ers defensive line.
Next, I'll be watching Darrell Stuckey. The longtime special teams ace has been badly outplayed by Dexter McCoil and Adrian McDonald throughout camp and the preseason, while also being outshone on special teams by a host of younger, cheaper, more versatile players. I want to see how Darrell responds with his back against the wall and with two young pups nipping at his heels. While I don't think it will happen, Stuckey could be the odd man out if push comes to shove and the coaches can't find a way to keep Dexter McCoil on the roster otherwise.
Joshua Perry and Jatavius Brown will also be worth watching. While Perry has been contributing on special teams, he did not see a single defensive snap against the Vikings. While I tend to think that was more about evaluating Shaq Petteway than demoting Perry, Joshua hasn't been especially productive with his defensive snaps, so I want to see how he's improved regarding diagnosing plays, shedding blocks and making plays. As for Brown, I want to see how Pagano uses him. Will he be in coverage? Will he rush the passer? Could he shuffle between ILB and OLB? I look forward to finding out.
But mainly, I'm just really looking forward to seeing 00:00 on the scoreboard at the end of the fourth quarter. Why? Because the preseason will finally be over and we can actually get on with real, actual football.
You'll notice I didn't mention getting my first on-field look at Joey Bosa as a Charger. Why? Because he won't play tonight. Sorry to burst your bubbles, but there is probably a 0% chance the first round pick plays after only a couple days of practice. We'll have to wait for week one in Kansas City to get our first look at #99.
That's it, that's what I'm looking forward to watching tonight. Let me have it in the comments section - tell me what you think of my list, or better yet, give me your list. Thanks for reading!