The Chargers are 1-1 through their first two preseason games. Their opener against the Rams was a a well-rounded and complete game as all three phases worked in harmony to secure a win. There second outing didn’t go as smoothly as only the defense continued their strong start from a week ago.
This Friday marks the finale of the preseason for the Bolts as they travel to Santa Clara to face the 49ers. It’ll be an excellent final audition for many of the young players still looking to earn a role with the team as the Niners have developed one of the best rosters in the NFL.
Time is flying in August, that’s for sure, and the regular season will be here before we know it. With that said, here are three thoughts at the forefront of my head as we glide through the final week of the preseason.
1.) The current opinion of the Chargers offense should lie somewhere between their week one and week two performances
In their first preseason game, the Chargers averaged nearly seven yards per attempt even after a 71-yard touchdown run was negated due to a penalty. Easton Stick also looked much more comfortable in the pocket as he has his best preseason performance to date. In their second game against the Saints, the Chargers couldn’t muster much as Easton Stick led them in rushing with 67 yards mainly off of scrambles. He also threw two interceptions as he was pressured all night long.
Now it should be noted that the Chargers faced a lot more veteran players amongst the Saints’ backups compared to the Rams. Defensive end Tanoh Kpassagnon (seven-year vet), defensive tackle Khalen Saunders (five years), cornerback Bradley Roby (10 years), and linebacker Jaylon Smith (seven years) all began the game for New Orleans. That’s a lot of games started and played.
I think it’s fair to get excited about what Kellen Moore has already done with the offense, but equally fair to believe you haven’t seen enough just yet.
2.) Elijah Dotson’s game one performance is not a wash after pair of drops vs. Saints
In his Chargers debut against the Rams, Dotson stole the show with a pair of touchdowns in the fourth quarter that went for 37 and 40 yards, respectively. Overall he rushed for 92 yards on six total carries.
In his second game against the Saints, Dotson rushed for just 21 yards on another six carries. He got the chance to show some receiving chops, but unfortunately his three targets turned into zero receptions and a pair of drops. Those drops were only highlighted further as they both came on the team’s final drive of the game. The first forced Stick to throw up one to Terrell Bynum on fourth down who was triple covered — luckily he somehow came down with it — and the other was a would-be first down on third-and-four. Stick was then picked off on the very next play.
Someone would likely consider his preseason performance a wash with one game balancing out the other, but I would say his Rams performance holds a lot more weight in it than his Saints game. Two long touchdown runs from an undrafted running back in his very first pro contest are a much rarer occurrence than the same player making a pair of ill-timed drops in his second NFL game ever. The drops and confidence are something that can be coached and fixed. The game sense to breakaway from the initial play to make something out of nothing is a little bit harder to find.
3.) Keelan Doss’ steady game performances be more valuable than John Hightower’s big plays in practice
Hightower was the talk of training camp through the first two weeks. He was incredibly consistent as deep threat, nearly being good for a 50-yard touchdown just about every other practice. However, just before the preseason schedule started, Hightower became hobbled by an injury that kept him out of practice for a handful of sessions, including the first preseason game against the Rams. He returned for their tilt with the Saints, but managed just one catch for 10 yards on six targets.
As for Doss, he’s led the Chargers in receiving in both games so far. He posted three catches for 39 yards against the Rams and another three catches for 42 yards against the Saints. At 6’3 and 215 pounds, he also fits the archetype for just about every wideout the Chargers have kept around in recent years.
With Jalen Guyton continuing to rehab his ACL injury from last season, Doss and Hightower look like they’ll have all the way until final cuts to make their case for the final receiver spot.