For those of you who were looking forward to another hot start by the starters on offense, you were unfortunately greeted by a plethora of turnovers and both teams starting the game with a turnover-on-downs.
Once the Chargers forced their first turnover of the game, a tip-drill interception by S Jaylen Watkins, third-string quarterback authored a 98-yard scoring drive, capped-off by a beautiful toss to WR Andre Patton in the back of the end zone for a 24-yard touchdown. This was the first seven points in the team’s run of three straight scores to go up 17-3 in the third quarter.
The Chargers unfortunately couldn’t secure any more points once Easton Stick took the reigns, and all hope was dashed when Stick threw an ill-advised interception into the waiting arms of Saints linebacker Colton Jumper with less than two minutes on the clock.
But again, these losses don’t mean anything, but it does give us an idea of who’s improving and who is trending in the wrong direction. So for preseason week two, here are you winners and losers.
RB Troymaine Pope
After spending all of last season on the practice squad, Pope has remained as the fifth running back behind Melvin Gordon, Austin Ekeler, Justin Jackson, and even Detrez Newsome, until this past Sunday.
Pope entered the game before Newsome and handled the majority of the snaps through the second half. He tied for the team lead in catches with four but managed just nine yards on six carries.
The biggest highlight of Pope’s evening? His huge 81-yard punt return for a touchdown. It was a huge shot in the leg of the offense and helped the Bolts go up by 14 points on the day.
I’m not sure where this spark came from but Pope may have just pushed himself ahead of Newsome for the team’s fourth and final running back spot. This is obviously barring the return of Melvin Gordon prior to the regular season.
WRs Artavis Scott and Andre Patton
Both Scott and Patton tied for the team-lead in catches with four, a piece. Scott finished the game with a team-high 64 yards but Patton ended the game just two yards behind him with 62.
This was a good showing by the two young wideouts who are likely vying for the final two roster spots at the position. Although Geremy Davis has been fairly quiet during the first two exhibition games, he is pretty locked-in as the team’s fourth receiver behind Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Travis Benjamin.
QB Cardale Jones
In what had to have been his best showing in a Chargers uniform, Jones looked like the best quarterback on the field for the Bolts as he finished with an efficient 10-of-14 passing line for 111 yards and the aforementioned touchdown strike to Patton.
Although aided by a “roughing-the-passer” penalty early on, Jones put together a 98-yard scoring drive before leading the Chargers once again down the field before Michael Badgley kicked his first field goal of preseason.
Jones looked visibly less rattled in the pocket than all of his previous preseason games combined. He knew when to step up in the pocket, when to get rid of the ball, and just plain looked like he belonged.
I’m not sure if this allows the Cardale Jones experiment to continue past this preseason, but it will definitely make the next two preseason games that much more interesting.
QB Easton Stick
Going from one signal-caller to another, Stick took a sizable step backwards from his week 1 performance against the Arizona Cardinals. It was the second-straight game in which he threw an interception that left the whole fan base scratching their heads. But this time, he didn’t have the long touchdown run to hang his hat on at the end of the day.
Stick finished 5-of-13 for 62 yards and the pick. He also finished with zero yards rushing which is not what we have come to expect from the 2019 fifth-round pick. His 22.0 passer rating was also the worst of all the quarterbacks on the evening.
It’s still just the halfway point of the preseason, and too be honest, I expect Stick to have huge ending to the month of August that will have Chargers fans REALLY excited about this guy going forward.
RB Detrez Newsome
Newsome played a critical role in the team’s dramatic win at Arrowhead stadium late last season and has spent a good amount of time getting reps with the first-team offense early in training camp.
However, Newsome was the fourth running back to receive snaps this past Sunday behind Ekeler, Jackson, and Pope. Pope has been the “sure-fire” running back to find himself left out when final cuts rolled around but I’m not so sure that’s the case right now.
Newsome finished with 17 rushing yards on five carries, landing him second and third in those categories, respectively.
We’ll see if Newsome stays behind Pope in the pecking order next week against the Seahawks but this has definitely become another position battle to monitor over the next couple weeks.