Chargers vs Cowboys: Things to Evaluate From Preseason Matchup
I'm writing this article a bit late this gameday morning but many of you can look back and answer these very important questions of whether the Chargers succeeded in their task.
This isn't about Rivers throwing the ball well or whether or not the defense will play well. This is about something totally different: how well the Chargers handle adversity.
How well will the Chargers offensive line block against a 3-4 defense?
Against the Bears, the Chargers passed with flying colors along the offensive line. Brandyn Dombrowski was able to keep Julius Peppers at bay and Tyrone Green showed he could play just as well.
Here is the problem the Chargers need to pass to measure how well they can play in the regular season without Marcus McNeil in the line-up. The Bears played a Tampa-2 defense that don't have much blitzing in it other than the occasional stunt along the line. The Chargers didn't have to think too much to block these guys as they expected the same 4 guys who are on the line to rush consistently.
The Cowboys won't make it that easy on the Chargers offensive line to block them as they run the 3-4 defense. What I want to see is the Chargers ability to not only pass block, but communicate along the line to figure out who's blitzing. This will be the true measure of how well the Chargers offensive line will do.
Look out for the battle of Brandyn Dombrowski and DeMarcus Ware. With Ware being one of the top pass rushers, it'll be very interesting to see how well Dombrowski will do after stuffing Julius Peppers in the last game for two series.
How will the defense hold against a team that can run the ball?
The Chargers defense held the Bears starting rushing attack to less than 3 yards per carry. That is a huge improvement over what the Chargers had last season in the run defense category. However, the Bears aren't particularly strong in the running game anyway and isn't a good indicator of how well the Chargers run defense have improved if any.
The Cowboys will give the Chargers run defense a true test of how good or bad they are. The Cowboys feature three good RB's. What makes this a very intriguing barometer of how well the Chargers run defense is the fact that the Cowboys feature different types of RB's for the defense to test themselves against. You have the battering ram of Marion Barber. You have the speed demon in Felix Jones. Then you have a balance runner in Tashard Choice.
Look to see how well the Chargers run defense will play against somebody that has a rushing attack.
Will Cam Thomas be as dominant against the Cowboys interior line?
Cam Thomas played against the Bears' second team for the majority of snaps he played in the first pre-season game. Thomas did nothing short of dominating the Bears secondary line as he consistently pressured up the middle and provided the LB's with some help in keeping offensive linemen off of them. Thomas also had 1 sack.
Norv Turner wanted to see what Thomas is capable of but this time against a pretty good Cowboys starting offensive line. If Thomas is able to pull of his dominance that he showed in the Bears game against the Cowboys starting line-up, he may as well just shown the Chargers that they may not need a rotation in the NT position.
Let's not get ahead of ourselves now as we all should look to see how well Thomas will play as he'll get many snaps this pre-season.
Will Ron Rivera continue to dial up exotic blitzes?
In another article I wrote a couple of days back, I expressed how surprise I was at Ron Rivera's play calling as the Chargers defense played ultra aggressive against the Bears. Against a team that's generally good at protecting their QB, I'm curious if the Chargers are going to continue to lay the wood on the Cowboys.
I'd like to see Ron Rivera continue his aggressive play calling. If he doesn't dial it up, there is a reason. Rivera is known to exploit opposing offenses with very good scouting on teams' they play.
Look to see if Ron Rivera will find a way to dominate the Cowboys offensive front.
Who is going to shine and separate themselves in the return game?
If there are a chance to any WR or DB to make this team, it'll be on base on their ability to play special teams. Against the Bears, the Chargers had pretty good returns by Jeremy Williams and Richard Goodman. Look to see whether Richard Goodman can give the Chargers a good reason to keep him on the squad as a returner after a huge return in the first pre-season.
Look to see who's going to step up to the plate to give the Chargers another threat at returning the ball for the Chargers to make a possible departure of Darren Sproles that much more easier to free up cap space in the future.
The Chargers are playing against a very good team. Look for the Chargers to get some good reps in on defense against the Cowboys starting offense as the Cowboys try to improve their redzone offense.
Another minor thing for us fans to observe is how well Ryan Mathews will be able to run against this defense as they are a well known run stuffing defense.
With all these questions will come answers when the game is all played and done. I'll be back with another post-game analysis on whether the Chargers succeeded in having all the right answers to these difficult questions.
Hope you enjoyed the article and thanks for the read. Feel free to comment.