The Los Angeles Chargers had some ups, but plenty of downs last night in their preseason loss to the New Orleans Saints. For the second time in as many games, the Bolts walked off the field at StubHub Center in defeat. While it’s important to remember that this is only preseason, concern is slowly setting in and questions are starting to surface in Carson, CA.
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The Offense was Offensive
After a productive week of joint practices with New Orleans, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers was not in action as the Bolts and Saints duked it out in preseason action. Kellen Clemens started in place of Rivers, and played the entire first half. He finished the night 10-of-17 for 99 yards and was sacked four times.
The offensive line resembled turnstiles more than a formidable barrier for much of the night. With starting tackles Joe Barksdale and Russell Okung resting injuries, Clemens did not have much time to effectively move the football. When he did have opportunities, Clemens and the offense struggled to compile productive plays. Third-string QB Cardale Jones, whom the team acquired earlier in training camp, didn’t fare much better. The Chargers’ best drive ended when receiver Jamaal Jones fumbled the ball on the team’s only trip into the red zone. As a result, the Bolts were unable to put up any points on offense.
The Defense was Impressive
…after a brief sputter, that is.
At first glance, the Chargers’ defense looked like it would share the same fate as that of its team’s offensive counterparts. The first-team defense surrendered a 50-yard touchdown run to New Orleans rookie running back Alvin Kamara on the Saints’ first offensive play. Kamara’s run appeared to catch the defense, primarily Nick Dzubnar (who is competing to replace injured starting middle linebacker Denzel Perryman) off-guard. Even former star quarterback and team analyst, Dan Fouts, lamented the Chargers defensive effort on the play. (Although, Fouts did refer to the team in the ‘San Diego’ tense…seems that old habits die hard. We still love you, Dan!)
From that point on, however, the defense showed marked improvement. The subsequent defensive units allowed just 14 rushing yards on eight carries for the remainder of the half.
Rookie cornerback Desmond King continued his outstanding performance thus far, by making a key tackle on a big third down, forcing the Saints to punt. On New Orleans’ next possession, King recorded an impressive sack of quarterback Chase Daniel, who started in place of starter Drew Brees, who was inactive.
In addition, defensive end Melvin Ingram and safety Tre Boston also shared in a sack of Daniel. Defensive tackle Brandon Mebane and linebacker Jatavis Brown also racked up four tackles each in the first half.
However, the Chargers’ most impressive highlight came courtesy of safety Dexter McCoil. The former CFL-star, out of Tulsa, intercepted a Ryan Nassib pass and returned it 99 yards for a touchdown, which put the Chargers on the board in the fourth quarter. It was the Chargers only score of the night.
What’s Next for the Bolts?
Head coach Anthony Lynn will certainly practice his team hard, this week. With the exception of that first play, Lynn was impressed with the performance of his defense. However, the HC of the LAC did not have such complementary sentiments for his offense. After labeling this past offensive output as “ugly”, look for Lynn and his coaching staff to put much time and energy into improving the offense this week. One may venture to guess that the offensive line will be a particular focal point.
Next up, the team will take to the road, but only for a short trip south. For their third game of the preseason, the Chargers will face the Los Angeles Rams on Saturday, August 26 at 5pm. The ‘Fight for LA’ is about to officially begin.
– Mike D’Abate is the Managing Editor for cover32/Chargers and covers the Los Angeles Chargers.