Prior to the 2018 regular season, I’m going to work out the kinks of a few new weekly pieces I had planned to unveil in full glory following the week one matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs.
This first one is something I affectionately refer to as “Surge or Static.” The piece will highlight several players that progressed this past week or “surged “ forward while I point out several other players who took a step back or stayed “static.”
(Side Note: I may be joined by another writer for this piece or have a carousel of contributors throughout the year. This is TBD.)
This week’s game against the Seahawks included some stellar play from a pair of undrafted free agents while a veteran proved he still needs to polish up some things prior to the start of the regular season.
And yeah, yeah, it’s still too early to react so heavily on anything but if we can’t get excited or frustrated about anything, the next couple weeks are going to be pretty boring. So let’s get these emotional responses flowing!
RB Detrez Newsome
In his first preseason action against the Arizona Cardinals, the 5-foot-10, 210-pound Newsome didn’t put up the flashiest of stat lines. It was a performance you needed to judge by the film, not the numbers in the box score. Newsome’s final rushing line was an abysmal three yards on four rushes but he did add a short touchdown and would have had two if his 37-yard score was not negated by a penalty. If it stood, a line of 5-40-2 would have looked much better.
He also add four catches for another 34 yards on five targets.
Due to injuries, Newsome and starter Melvin Gordon were the only true running backs left for the Chargers against the Seahawks on Saturday night. Newsome got extended action that not many backs see in the preseason and he definitely made the most of the substantial workload.
He carried the rock 19 times on the night and turned it into 78 yards, averaging 4.1 per tote. He also caught all three of his targets for another 22 yards, putting him at exactly 100 yards from scrimmage.
KR/PR J.J. Jones
At 5-foot-10 and 173 pounds, Jones measures in as one of the smallest players on the Bolts’ roster. However, his recent play has been HUGE as it’s only taken him two games as a pro to show the Chargers’ staff what he can contribute to this year’s team.
Against the Cardinals, Jones split time with WR Artavis Scott returning both punts and kickoffs with both looking pretty even with each other. On Saturday night, both saw a handful of returns once again but Jones was the one to finally break through with his 72-yard punt return for touchdown that increased the team’s lead from one point to eight.
I really hope the team finds a way to keep Jones on the roster come September without having to sacrifice good depth elsewhere. The special teams of the Chargers have been far too poor in recent years and this may be the first time in awhile I can feel confident about the team in all three phases of the game.
S Jahleel Addae
Addae’s skill-set has never been synonymous with “great coverage.” After all, his nickname is “The Hitman” and it’s rightfully deserved when you go back and watch some of his best plays over the years. Occasionaly, however, it’s his own teammates he finds himself taking out.
Last season, Addae took a giant leap forward with his overall game and became a reliable player on the back-end of the defense. This year, it looks as if Addae will get the chance to start at free safety while first-round pick S Derwin James will be slotted in at the strong safety position. This means Addae will spend most of his time away from the line of scrimmage, which is the area where his game translates the best.
On Saturday night, Addae got the chance to show fans that he has the ability to roam from sideline-to-sideline as a single-high safety. When the prime opportunity came to be, he allowed a deep ball to go through his arms into the waiting hands of WR Jaron Brown for a big gain.
There are absolutely zero excuses as to why that ball shouldn’t have been intercepted, or at least broken up. Although the rest of the defense allowed several other deep balls to be completed, this one looked especially pitiful knowing it was a veteran player combined with a horrible decision to throw the ball in the first place by Russell Wilson.
CB B.J. Clay
Clay was an undrafted free agent out of Georgia State this year and found himself battling for a spot in the most crowded position group on the team. With two other UDFA CBs getting the majority of the publicity, Clay has found himself fairly stuck in the mud.
When it becomes the third and fourth quarter of these preseason games, guys like Clay and other UDFAs have the opportunity to put their skillset on display while the starters watch from the sidelines. However, the cornerback’s play did get a healthy dose of spotlight at the end of the game, it was just of the negative variety.
Within the last five minutes of the game, Clay was on the wrong side of a 39-yard gain, allowed a touchdown pass, and then gave up the following 2.pt conversion.
I’m not a defensive backs coach or anything close, but that’s no bueno.