Fans also got to watch Philip Rivers and the rest of the starting offense for the first time this preseason as Rivers, Keenan Allen, and others played just over one quarter of action before handing the game over to Geno Smith and the backups.
Once again, this game was much easier to watch than a year ago when it seemed like whenever Rivers stepped off the field, the offense became instantly incompetent and unable to move the ball past the first down marker, nonetheless down the field for a score.
The defense had a rough time to start the night dealing with Wilson as he showed just how frustrating it can be when attempting to corral one of the most elusive quarterbacks in the NFL. The frustration only compounded when he would evade a sack and then throw a bomb to a receiver downfield that was somehow completed through blanket coverage.
Welcome to the NFL, I guess.
Here are the rest of my thoughts on the second preseason game and what stood out to me the most during the Chargers’ first victory of the preseason.
Geno Smith has finally put some distance between him and Cardale Jones in the competition to backup Philip Rivers.
Smith was the second quarterback to see the field once Rivers retired for the night after an efficient performance that saw him complete 6-of-7 passes for 62 yards. He was able to set the Bolts up within striking distance before the duo of Melvin Gordon and Detrez Newsome combined to punch it in for the score.
Not to be outdone, Smith put together an even more efficient stat line on the night. After completing 6-of-8 passes for 85 yards and a touchdown, Smith posted a 148.4 passer rating for his performance which is less than five points away from the “perfect” 153.8 passer rating that a quarterback can attain.
On his touchdown pass, which went to Mike Williams for his first professional touchdown catch, Smith showed a phenomenal blend of strength and touch to put the ball in a position for Williams to do what he does best: utilize his hops to sky over the defender for the catch.
We saw this connection in training camp a number of times and it’s a great feeling to finally see it translate to the field.
Smith looks rejuvenated as a Charger and it’s refreshing to see a quarterback with his skill-set sitting behind Rivers. For “X” amount of years, fans have had to swallow the fact that if something were to ever happen to #17 where he would need to miss extended time, the offense would go down like the titanic in a slow, agonizing event.
Here’s to a bit more reassurance for fans in case the s*** finally hits the fan.
Detrez Newsome could very well make this roster as the third running back barring a giant setback or a performance for the ages by Justin Jackson.
UDFA RB Detrez Newsome got a full game’s worth of carries against the Seahawks due to a rash of injuries to the running back group. Seventh-round selection Justin Jackson was held out for his second-straight game and the he has yet to make an appearance this preseason. Austin Ekeler and Russell Hansbrough were also late-scratches which opened the door for Newsome to get a whopping 19 carries on the night while Melvin Gordon got 10. Due to the lack of depth, FB Derek Watt even got a carry and spent some time in the backfield during the latter parts of the game.
Newsome was able to stack another successful performance on top of last week’s stellar output as he took those 19 carries for 78 yards, including a long of 31. Newsome’s most exciting carry was likely his first of the night when he took a handoff on the first drive of the game and was brought down at the two-yard line. If you were me, you saw his explosion through the hole and immediately jumped up because you thought he was going to bowl his way in for the score. Unfortunately, he was stopped short but it set up Gordon for a short TD run to put the Chargers up 7-3 in the first quarter.
Newsome also caught all three of his targets in the passing game for an additional 22 yards. This put him at exactly 100 total yards from scrimmage for the night and likely has him in great standing with the team going forward.
Could this already be the end of the road for Jackson? It’s still too early to say but man, Newsome has been outstanding for a UDFA from a lower-level school. On the other hand, Chargers fans have heard this story before...
J.J. Jones may have already made the team with his play as a return man. Also, his given name is Janardreon Jones, which is also a pretty cool name.
With just under two minutes to go before halftime, the Seattle Seahawks were forced to punt after a 3-and-out by Wilson and Co. The Seahawks’ punter might have out-kicked his coverage (and not in a good way) when his punt sailed into the arms of Jones at the Bolts’ 28-yard line. Jones strafed to his right for a split-second before hitting the turbo button through a crease in the coverage and he was off to the races. The speed was reminiscent of Travis Benjamin’s but there was no apparent fear of contact anywhere to be had.
After high-stepping through the arms of a would-be tackler near the Hawks’ 30-yard line, Jones just needed one more cut and finished the return with no one within 10 yards of him as he crossed into the endzone.
It was an incredible return in that it just looked so easy for him. The blazing speed is apparent and his knack for finding open space is something Bolts fans haven’t had in quite some time. Regardless of whether or not you think he should make the team as a receiver, his trump card is something the team needs drastically and can be the difference between winning eight or nine games before teetering on a playoff appearance and winning 10+ games en route to a division crown and a guaranteed playoff birth.
Analysts can squawk all they want about how talented the offense and defense is but a dangerous return man cannot be underestimated.
Again, it’s early, but I’m going to go ahead and say I fully endorse finding a spot for J.J. Jones on the final 53-man roster.