Chargers Lose Again But Eye Rams Next
August 24, 2017
The Chargers came out on Sunday night for the second round of their "Fight for LA" and once again, they got knocked down, losing 13-7 to New Orleans before 21,000 fans at the Stub Hub Center in Carson. So what have we learned about the Chargers through the first two preseason games? Not much that we did not already know.
The Chargers are using preseason to develop their depth. They are attempting to develop some of their young players. It is not going well to this point, but that should not reflect on the offensive and defensive starters. They are good.
Philip Rivers, who didn't play against the Saints, played one series in the first exhibition loss to the Seattle Seahawks last week and that resulted in a touchdown. The defensive starters have looked good in very limited action. As Charger Head Coach Anthony Lynn stated, "When we put that starting 22 out there, this team is going to be pretty good."
Quarterback Kellen Clemens led the Chargers in rushing with 26 yards. That is a formula for losing games. Kellen Clemens is a decent backup, but he cannot win games by himself. He is not Philip Rivers. At St. Louis in 2013, Clemens went 4-5 as a starter.
In his four wins, he completed 49 of 78 passes (63%), for a total of 730 yards, five touchdowns and more importantly, zero interceptions. He averaged 19-20 passes per game in the wins. Against the Saints, he threw 17 first half passes, was sacked attempting to pass another four times and ran three times off designed pass plays. Because the Chargers could not run the ball, Clemens was forced into passing situations where he had to make something happen with his arm and that is not really his strength. The other back-up, Cardale Jones, had similar results. Jones has a higher ceiling than Clemens. He has the size, arm strength and quickness of foot that can make him a dual threat. But at this point in time, he lacks experience and he just does not have a grasp of the offense. Jones has thrown a total of 11 passes in the regular season in the NFL.
On defense, the Chargers second and third units only gave up 13 points and scored seven points on a freak 99-yard interception return, but they did give up 157 yards rushing on a 4.8 yard average. It is hard to tell what the Chargers have on defense with their second and third teams, but what is concerning is that the Saints did run the ball well.
Lynn liked what he saw from in his defense but questioned the commitment on the offensive side. Against the Saints, the Chargers averaged a meager 2.3 yards per carry. "Our defense other than the first play, I thought the defense played pretty good. We just kept them on the field all day."
"Right now we're averaging 2 1/2 yards a carry and that's not the team we want to be and we know that," noted Lynn. "I know our leader didn't go but we can't use that as an excuse. I was looking for guys to step up because he wasn't available. And that didn't happen today."
"We're having a good training camp. Everybody's competing hard but today we were flat. I don't know if they're tired or what... I didn't feel the energy. I guess the most disappointing part was I saw some lack of compete by some guys. And that was disappointing."
Overall, I don't put much stock in an 0-2 start in two meaningless preseason games. The game Saturday at the LA Coliseum against the Rams should be a good test for the Chargers. I think both teams will play their starters for most of the first half.
This will give the Chargers a chance to win a round in the "Fight for LA" and in a game against their new rivals. Given that they literally got into fights at a scrimmage a few week ago, this game should be scrappy and interesting.