Preseason football has arrived, and almost as quickly as it came into our lives, its significance is retreating.
Yes, countless players will be hoping to make the roster with first cuts looming on August 26th. However, as the first week showed us, there isn’t a ton of we can conclude from these exhibitions.
As a Chargers’ fan, the thing you have to be most excited about is the effort level and urgency. The 27-7 performance in the opening week included a high-level of play by all three units. However, with no Tony Romo, DeMarco Murray, Anthony Spencer or Morris Claiborne on the field for Dallas, we can’t decidedly say anything about what this game may have looked in the regular season. But with these things in mind, Friday’s preseason game in Seattle may be the most important moment for the Chargers all of August.
Why would the second preseason game — a game in which depth players will see the most snaps, and starters will likely only go one quarter — be any different from the other three games? The answer lies in the game’s setting.
San Diego will have a very unique opportunity on Friday night not afforded to many teams. They will play in the loudest environment in the NFL at CenturyLink Field. This game will mark the first time Seattle fans have seen their team play football since winning the only championship in franchise history last February. The 12th man will be rocking, and luckily (perhaps) for the Chargers, this will be the ideal setting to practice the scheme changes made this offseason.
As we have covered extensively, the Chargers are going more up-tempo on specific drives this season. Last year, with one of the league’s worst defenses, Philip Rivers and Co. had to milk every second they could off the clock while in possession of the ball. With an improved defense, and a plethora of offensive weapons, the Chargers will try to tire opposing defenses and limit substitutions with a fast pace in 2014. We saw this in the preseason opener as Philip Rivers was able to create a mismatch resulting in a Danny Woodhead 25-yard catch and run.
As much as no fan want’s to admit it, Seattle has the toughest environment in the NFL. The stadium design, combined with the unique fans, gives opponents a nightmare situation at the line of scrimmage. In the regular season, this would work against San Diego, but in an exhibition game, this is exactly what the Chargers need.
Philip Rivers communication with his offense will be tested extensively on Friday. The key to the hurry-up offense is hand signals and verbal checks, and if offensive players can’t comprehend the calls, the Chargers will struggle. I am very interested in seeing how the Bolts handle the environment, and let’s face it, if they can make it work in Seattle, they can make it work anywhere.
Aside from the monumental challenge the Seattle defense brings, the Chargers will face the added pressure from the crowd. I will be watching to see how our boys handle the environment. If the Chargers can have success here, the signs could be pointing toward a breakout season in America’s Finest City.