The long-awaited first game of the preseason has come and gone and now we can all get back in the saddle of dissecting the film and figuring out just what went wrong, and maybe praise a little of what went right.
After each preseason game I will be writing up my thoughts on the team’s performance and what I think can be expected going forward. This is an exciting time as it gives fans a chance to flex their evaluation skills and have some fun while attempting to predict the final 53-man roster.
There was some very encouraging performances last night that unfortunately were overshadowed by a rain-storm of yellow cloth that seemed to last the entire length of the game. In a contest that was often sometimes insufferable to watch at moments, let’s take a look at some of the silver-linings.
As impressive as Geno Smith’s stat line was for his first game, it could have been a lot better.
Smith finished the night going 14-of-23 passes for 218 yards, a touchdown, and an interception. If it wasn’t for one of the many holding calls by the second-string offensive line, Smith would have had an exceptional night scrambling, as well. His 88.7 passer-rating was the best among the three quarterbacks on the night, aided by the only touchdown the Chargers scored through the air, even though Smith watched several of his passes get flat-out dropped.
Prior to the game, Anthony Lynn described the backup quarterback competition as “even” and even posted Smith and Cardale Jones as co-backups on the unofficial depth chart.
Unless you were one of the three blind mice, there was know way you were able to walk away from last night’s game and think Jones is anywhere near Smith’s level. Jones has also spent quite a bit more time in the system than Smith and he looked just about as lost as he’s ever been.
The backup quarterback spot is Smith’s to lose, if not already won by the former New York Giant.
Rookie linebackers Kyzir White and Uchena Nwosu were outstanding. Third-year LB Jatavis Brown looked excellent as well.
The first-team defense as a whole did not look all that great in their first drive of the night. CBs Casey Hayward and Trevor Williams, along with DE Joey Bosa sat out and it definitely showed as the duo of QB Sam Bradford and RB David Johnson propelled the Cards down the field. Once the defense was backed into their own red zone, they put the clamps on as White started making plays up at the line of scrimmage. He finished tied for the team lead in tackles with four.
Nwosu was the man in the middle of many short-gains near the sidelines as the versatile linebacker was a stud from boundary-to-boundary. Him and Landrum combined for the only two sacks for the Bolts on the night.
There was an interesting set of plays prior to the Cardinals’ first touchdown of the night where the goal line package involved Jenkins, White, and Melvin Ingram together at the second-level. This was obviously quite the site as Ingram is almost always used on the edge. Kicking the tires on Ingram as a defender who can line up in a plethora of spots isn’t the worst idea for one of the best athletes on the team.
Jatavis Brown was with the 1’s for the first part of the game and looked like his old explosive self as he made a nice tackle off the edge where he beat his man, dropped his hips, and exploded around the corner to snag the runners feet before he could gain much ground. This was awesome to see and I hope to continues to thrive through the next couple of weeks.
The running back group looks to be one of the deepest on the entire team.
Seventh-round selection RB Justin Jackson did not participate last night due to a nagging hamstring-injury and it may cost him in the long-run. As the back most people immediately slotted in behind Austin Ekeler, Jackson missed out on a night that saw Russell Hansbrough and UDFA Detrez Newsome exhibit some promise. Hansbrough finished the night with three carries for 21 yards, showing some nifty moves as he made several defenders miss. Newsome finished with just three yards on four carries but had a 37-yard touchdown run erased by a holding penalty. He did, however, get in the endzone on the next drive from a couple yards out.
Ekeler was the best running back on the field for the Chargers and looked every bit like the player we all fell in love with last year. He finished with 22 yards on five carries with a long of 20. He also caught two passes for 42 yards, most of which were YAC as he muscled through several arm tackles on his way up the field.