Chargers vs Seahawks: Report Card Grades for Every Chargers Unit
Seattle's quarterbacks combined for four rushing touchdowns and nearly 100 of the team's 243 yards on the ground. Wilson, who scored twice and threw for 121 yards, looked the part of a franchise quarterback and may have given audiences a sneak peek at what could be his best season yet.
On the opposing side, backup quarterback Kellen Clemens helped prevent the shutout by leading two scoring drives. He finished the night with 149 yards passing and two TDs. The talk of the game, however, was the less than mediocre play of the Chargers defense, which surrendered 403 yards and 41 points to the Seahawks.
There was no sole individual to point the finger at as the loss was an all-around effort.
Let's see how each unit fared and figure out what went wrong.
The obvious choice for best player out of this group was Kellen Clemens. The former St. Louis Ram looked solid against the Seahawks and has now thrown for 283 yards and three TDs in the last two games. Those two outings alone are beginning to create a gap between he and Brad Sorensen for the second-string job behind Philip Rivers and I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do next week against another stifling defense like the 49ers.
Rivers had a short night against Seattle with just one drive to his name and only four passing attempts. Tough to judge him on that, but the noise in the stadium made it extremely difficult for him to communicate his pre-snap adjustments.
Sorensen played sparingly as well with only three completed passes. The game was already well over by the time he entered, so his snap count was doomed from the start.
Branden Oliver quickly found out the struggles of playing against a top-notch defense on Friday. On nine carries, the undrafted rookie totaled just 14 yards and was far from the exciting player we witnessed in the preseason opener a week ago. He was met at the line of scrimmage almost instantly on the majority of his carries and his effort in the return game was a non-factor.
Marion Grice came in after Oliver and was a slight improvement. He carried the ball just three times and had 17 yards.
As for the duo of Donald Brown and Danny Woodhead, it was a light night despite the absence of Ryan Mathews. Woodhead led the team with 24 yards on six carries while Brown added 16 yards on four carries.
The ground game struggled from top to bottom, but it was tough to find space against a swarming Seahawks defense.
Wide Receiver and Tight End
Keenan Allen looked more than ready for the start of the regular season as his first catch of the preseason resulted in a 13-yard score. Reserve tight end Jacob Byrne was the receiver of the other TD thrown by Clemens.
Malcom Floyd had only two catches on the night but his presence on the football field looked very natural. For a guy that suffered a major neck injury a year ago, Floyd looked more than confident making plays and taking the hit.
Last week's stud, Dontrelle Inman, had a disappointing game with only one catch for 15 yards. He also had a catchable ball bounce off his hands early in the game. We wanted to see if Inman could be consistent and that didn't end up happening. One player that may be gaining ground on him is undrafted rookie Javontee Herndon, who hauled in two catches for 22 yards.
Ladarius Green led the tight ends group with two catches for 20 yards on a slow night for the passing attack.
After not allowing a sack in last week's game, the offensive line broke down against Seattle for five total sacks. Clemens was sacked three times and Sorensen was brought down for two more.
One player that stuck out for me was D.J. Fluker. His run blocking received high praise last year but there were critics who questioned his ability to be an effective pass-blocker. On Friday, Fluker really struggled against the Seahawks, especially with the speed of Cliff Avril.
The collective effort on run blocking was shaky at times as well. San Diego running backs garnered only 78 yards compared to Seattle's 243.
Chris Watt's debut may have been the only high point for this unit. He played center and right guard for the Chargers and did a decent job manning both positions.
Even with two of its starters missing in action, the Seattle offensive line pushed around the Chargers defensive line and opened gaping holes for Wilson and Robert Turbin to run through.
Corey Liuget got some early pressure on Wilson to start the game but it was Wilson who put on a show with his poise in the pocket and mobility. The defensive line struggled to clog running lanes and rarely got a finger on Wilson.
On top of that, starting defensive tackle Sean Lissemore left the game with an ankle injury after what looked like an illegal chop block and did not return. Liuget had also been dealing with an ankle injury this past week, so that makes two defensive linemen with injured wheels.
Missed tackles were a problem across the defense but the poor angles taken by some of the linebackers were concerning.
On one particular play, Manti Te'o raced into the backfield with what appeared to be a sure-fire tackle for loss on Turbin but one good stiff arm left Te'o swiping at air. Tourek Williams, who started in place of Jarret Johnson, may have had the worst performance of the linebacker corps with a couple of big mistakes.
He, too, had an easy shot on Turbin in the backfield on multiple occasions only to bounce off at the last minute. Williams was also the culprit on a 46-yard gain by Turbin when he broke containment on his side, allowing Turbin to take a handoff for a big chunk of yardage.
Williams did end up getting San Diego's only sack on the night but his efforts in stopping the run were not up to standard. Te'o also salvaged some of his pride by leading the team in tackles with six.
Melvin Ingram and second-round draft pick Jerry Attaochu had a couple of hurries on the quarterback but neither could deal the finishing blow.
The long-awaited debut of Brandon Flowers didn't make for any exciting action in the secondary. He picked up a questionable illegal contact penalty early in the game and was relatively quiet the rest of the night.
No passing TDs were given up but, again, there were issues with tackling and angles. The biggest mistake came in the second quarter when a blown coverage resulted in a 37-yard completion to Zach Miller. Marcus Gilchrist attempted to alert Jahleel Addae at the last minute but the ball had already been snapped and Miller was given wide open space in the middle of the field as Addae shadowed Percy Harvin down the field.
Addae also left the game early with an apparent hamstring injury and did not return to the game.
Darrell Stuckey had two of the better plays in the secondary with two deflections, one of which negated what would have been a TD catch by Doug Baldwin.
Nick Novak was called on for just two extra points in the game and converted on both. Mike Scifres and undrafted rookie Chase Tenpenny had nearly identical numbers punting with three punts apiece for 114 yards.
In the return game, Brown and Grice appear to be the favorites to field kicks this season. Brown had one return for 26 yards and Grice had one for 25 yards. Oliver was given three attempts to bring back and finished with 49 yards.
As the game wore on and with the scoreboard progressively getting more and more lopsided, the color in Mike McCoy's face went from a light tan to bright red. He was clearly not happy with his team's performance on the sidelines, especially with how well they played the previous week.
Frank Reich looked like a genius in his first preseason game as offensive coordinator but the step up in competition had a resonating impact on his offense. That being said, I didn't expect the offense to show too much in an exhibition game, especially because the Seahawks will be coming to town in September for Week 2.
John Pagano had a puzzled look on his face for most of the game and has his work cut out for him as he attempts to reinvigorate what has to be a beaten down defensive unit after an embarrassing loss. Stopping the run has been a trending problem in the preseason and it's frustrating to see that something as fundamental as tackling is still an issue even though he made it a point to practice those things in training camp.
Tough to blame the coaches when the players are struggling. This coaching staff will get the team re-focused and get ready for San Francisco next week.
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A lopsided defeat such as this one will never grade well, but consider this a reality check for a team that is on a mission to go far this season. Competing with the defending Super Bowl champions was a learning experience for McCoy's team and it will help expose areas where the Chargers need work.
The road will only get tougher next week when San Diego travels to San Francisco in what will be yet another opportunity to get in reps against an opponent on the regular-season schedule. The Chargers will get their first look at the 49ers and their new stadium before returning in Week 16.
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