During last week’s game against the Arizona Cardinals, I noticed a big difference from last year’s preseason games: the backups can actually move the ball without Philip Rivers under center.
It was almost excruciating at points last year when Rivers got done for the night and Kellen Clemens or Cardale Jones was set to finish out the night for the Bolts. The offense couldn’t complete a pass while the run game was still pretty abysmal.
Enter the 2018 preseason.
Clemens is no longer with the team, they added Geno Smith from the Giants, and the team is still kicking the tires on Jones as a project. Jones got the start ahead of Smith against the Cards and it honestly looked as if nothing was worked on. The touch on his passes was nonexistent and he looked uncomfortable in the pocket throughout. It wasn’t until Smith took over that the offense had some life.
Going into tonight’s match-up, Smith will look to continue the momentum and hopefuly put some distance between himself and Jones to help put this quarterback competition to bed.
For the rest of the offense, let’s take a look at what the rest of the guys will be watching for tonight.
Garrett Sisti: On Offense the TEs are the group to watch because the Chargers need some help and you’d hope Bowman and Johnson (even Green) bounce back in Game 2 but I’ll go another route for some variety. The second team Offensive Line had major trouble and Sam Tevi and the rookie Scott Quessenberry have a spot on this team but at some point they’ll need to prove they belong. Let’s hope that starts Saturday.
Jamie Sewell: The TEs are the obvious answer, but I’m also looking out for the backup RBs on offense. Justin Jackson not playing last week allowed Newsome and Hansborough to leap him on the depth chart, and he needs to get healthy and put something on tape.
Ruben Gonzalez: On offense I will be looking to come up for a name for the trio of wide receivers that the Chargers will deploy. I’m hoping this year Keenan, Tyrell and Mike can establish themselves as the premiere WR group in the NFL. And with that comes a nickname. The secondary seems to want to call themselves the Jack Boys, so I’m gonna keep an eye on these three and hopefully come up with a better name. It shouldn’t be hard.
Matthew Stanley: On offense I will be watching the TEs again. I was glad to see Culkin do ok, but when “ok” is the best of the group it isn’t good. This group really needs to step up. I’ll also be pretending that Geno Smith and Cardale Jones aren’t bad.
Louis Gorini: Last time I wasn’t to focused on Mike Williams but this time I will being that he will have a real quarterback finally throwing to him. I want to see how they line him up near the red zone.
Jamie Hoyle: I’ll be watching Detrez Newsome on both offense and special teams. I’m intrigued by his ability to catch the ball and his explosive play along ability and think he could be an exciting complement to Gordon and Ekeler in the Chargers backfield. I’d like to see how he handles more carries and get an extended look at him in pass protection, as well. I’m hoping he gets some run with the second team offense this week.
Kyle Posey: I’ll be keeping an eye on the TE’s. Dropped 5 passes last week. They can’t possibly be worse, can they? We’ll see. Culkin was this weeks fluff piece. I’ll be checking to see what “baby Shockey” can do.
Richard Wade: I’m most looking forward to seeing the tight ends again. They were absolutely horrible last week, but it will be interesting to see if they can be more effective with Philip Rivers at quarterback.
Michael Peterson: Justin Jackson did not play last week (thanks for that) and it doesn’t look like he will be suiting up for tonight, either. In his absence, I will be looking at RB Detrez Newsome and seeing if he can capitalize on another night with extra reps to go around. Newsome looked explosive and showed some moves in the open field to gain extra yards. All things you want to see from the backs in this offense. If he succeeds in showing out once more, time might not be on Jackson’s side much longer.