The two practices prior to the Saturday game is going to give the players a degree of familiarity with their opponent that’s atypical during preseason in the NFL. Because the Coaches won’t be game-planning, we’ll be treated to numerous individual and unit battles that might answer some urgent questions about our Boys.
To familiarize myself with the Chargers, I reviewed their single first-team offensive drive and their two first-team defensive drives against the Seahawks last week thanks to NFL Replay. Based on their performance and The Cowboy’s last week, I think we can get some answers to a few questions I (and maybe you) have…
Question: Can our young receiving corps compete against the experienced Charger defensive backfield?
Seattle had Jackson at QB and from what I saw he hasn’t changed much from when he was with Washington so I wasn’t able to determine the effectiveness of the Charger defensive backfield because, well, Jackson was the Seattle QB.
Harris gets his chance to earn his Star against the Charger’s first team defense because Austin will be out this week with a tight hamstring. Harris shredded the third string Bronco defensive backfield for two touchdowns and 127 receiving yards. He did what any good draft pick should do; stand out from the field when playing against the Three’s. This week we’ll see what he can do against the One’s.
Ogletree has an opportunity to separate himself from the field of young receivers If he can compete and succeed this week as the number two. Dez can give us a preview of how he’ll do as a number one receiver. This is all dependent on if Austin’s ready to go this week.
I expect Garrett to take this opportunity see what his young receivers can do. After the game JG should have a good idea of whether he can stand pat with what he’s got at receiver or whether Jerry needs to open his wallet for a veteran receiver.
Question: With the return of Gurode at Center and the insertion of Nagy at Left Guard, how will this version of the Offensive Line fair?
Seattle’s OLine was totally retooled this off season which is similar to ours. Seattle is starting two rookies as are we. The difference is that Seattle has three first round draft picks, a second rounder and a third rounder starting on their OLine. Although they are young, they have the pedigree we don’t have, other than Smith. The Seahawks were able to run against the Chargers, but had no answer for the Charger’s blitz packages or DL. For the life of me, I can’t understand how a DL (Chargers, that is) that didn’t use a single escape move when rushing the passer could bring such heat to bear on a QB. So, I’ll be interested in seeing how our retooled line handles the blitz and pressure. Our starters did pretty well running the ball last week so it’s important to see if they can be consistent. I’m going to be watching the matchup of Smith against Phillips/Castillo with allot of interest. Romo will need time to throw against this team with our young receivers going against a very talented San Diego secondary.
I’m thinking that Garrett will be very interested in how well his young linemen do this week. Should they continue to show the promise and ability they have thus far, Holland might be a memory (nightmare?) on opening day.
Question: Can our make-shift defensive backfield stand up against the vertical passing attack of Phillip Rivers?
Rivers had his way with the Seattle defensive secondary last week. It appears that his wide-outs can spread the field and beat man coverage. We’re without our starting CBs so it’s time for the reserves to pony up. Scandrick, by all accounts, is having a great camp. It seems as if he has his confidence and swagger back that he lost the first eight games last year. Coaches have raved about Allen Ball at CB. He’ll probably be the fourth CB for the Boys this year. This game won’t make or break either Scandrick or Ball should they not do well. It’ll really be beneficial to their confidence going into the season should they excel.
Question: Can we stop the run?
Last week against Denver, our run defense looked more like a sieve than a wall. The Chargers aren’t a strong running team. I’d call this a push except that RR has made a long-awaited change to the DL. Igor’s gone and been replaced by Coleman. Thank you, Jesus; there is a God. Coleman’s been a good run-stopper since he came into the NFL. Both He and Hatcher looked like men playing against boys last week. Rat’s back so he’ll draw allot of attention. There’s no reason our run defense shouldn’t be greatly improved.
There might be other questions I haven’t addressed but these are my top four. Maybe you have differing questions? Discuss amongst yourselves…