San Diego Chargers vs Dallas Cowboys: Seven Reactions For the Bolts
When the San Diego Chargers' second preseason game came to an end, there was a lot to discuss.
A lot of good things happened in the game. At the same time, though, there were a lot of things to be concerned or worried about.
So, let's take a look at some of the good and bad of the San Diego Chargers' game against the Dallas Cowboys.
Starting Donald Strickland Over Nathan Vasher is the Right Call
Donald Strickland has to be one of the Chargers' best offseason pickups.
Strickland has proven himself to be the perfect nickel back, and an extremely capable backup cornerback. He has hurried (and sacked) quarterbacks, he has deflected passes, and he has played well covering the run.
On the other hand, Nathan Vasher is showing the effects of being out of the game for so long.
Vasher is inconsistent at best in coverage. He was exploited all night yesterday, and never seemed to adjust. His tackling was poor, and he did a poor job of reading routes and play action.
Taking all of this into consideration, the Chargers seem to have made the right decision. Donald Strickland appears to have playing priority over Nathan Vasher, and it should stay that way. Vasher, at this point in time, is too much of a liability.
Steve Gregory is the Right Choice at Strong Safety
Steve Gregory played well last night. He was decent in coverage, showing a good ability to play zone.
However, Gregory was at his best last night blitzing and on run coverage. He showed excellent vision when it came to reading the holes on the offensive line. His sack was a perfect example of this.
The defensive line did the legwork, opening up a small hole, and Steve Gregory shot through it like a bullet.
The same can't be said about Darrell Stuckey. While Stuckey had his moments last night, he took a few bad angles and had some bad tackles. He may get there someday, but this is not the year for him.
While Steve Gregory will never be a Pro Bowl caliber player, he will provide a good stop gap between now and when Darrell Stuckey is ready to take over.
San Diego Has Figured Out Its Run Defense
While Antonio Garay played the starter role last night at the defensive tackle position, there is no doubt that Cam Thomas stole the show.
Thomas drew the double team, he pushed defenders back, and he was right there to stop inside runs.
While Cam Thomas may not have the conditioning for it, it would probably be in the Chargers' best interests to play Thomas as much as possible.
Things seemed to be locked down at defensive end as well. Jacques Cesaire and Luis Castillo seemed to have things covered on the starting front. Even backups like Vaughn Martin and Travis Johnson were all over the ball.
With Tony Romo frustrated in his first few series last night, Dallas attempted to go to the ground, but it only worsened their problems.
Who is Jyles Tucker?
Jyles Tucker has been a fan favorite for the last few years, if only for his pass rush ability. Tucker can come off the edge with a lot of speed, and he has a knack for backing linemen into the quarterback if he can't shed the block.
He's also decent in coverage, which is why most people are happy with having him as a backup outside linebacker.
He played well as the backup outside linebacker last night, but that's not why I'm wondering who this guy is.
My question is: when did Jyles Tucker become so versatile?
He played down on the line, standing on the line, back with the linebackers.
And he did it all very well.
Jyles Tucker will be an exciting weapon for the Chargers, because he is a player that fits more than one mold.
No Worries About the Running Game
Does anyone miss LaDainian Tomlinson now?
I expect that the answer to that is no, because, after seeing him in action twice, everyone should know that Ryan Mathews is the man. He has great breakaway speed, he can make people miss, and he has the strength and balance to consistently shed one or two blockers.
Darren Sproles compliments this tough running game very well. He ran a few screens last night, tearing up the Cowboys' defense. Darren Sproles will earn his money this year.
And, if you thought this was as far as things went in the running back rotation, have no fear. The Chargers have more weapons.
Mike Tolbert is probably the most exciting of the other runners in the backfield. At 5'9", 244 pounds, Tolbert is built like a brick wall, and he sure plays like one. Knocking him down is not an easy feat, which is a problem when that kind of strength is coupled with a 4.6 dash time. Tolbert will play mostly fullback, but could be turned to in short yardage situations.
Marcus McWho? Left Tackle is Locked Down
That guy hulking behind LaDainian Tomlinson is Brandyn Dombrowski, the heir apparent to Marcus McNeill's vacated spot at left tackle.
Dombrowski took all the reps with the first team last night, and he had another phenomenal performance.
While DeMarcus Ware did push Dombrowski back a few times, he kept Ware in check for most of the night.
He was also a fierce run blocker. He leveled a few players on screen blocking, and cleared the way very effectively for outside runs.
Dombrowski does have a little work to do, but he will do a fine job covering for the absent Marcus McNeill.
The Receiver Roster is Set
All of the receivers played very well last night, and it seems like the Chargers are all set at that position.
Malcolm Floyd showed real number one option ability. He made some extremely athletic catches and seemed to be there when Philip Rivers needed him. He consistently got open when left in single coverage, and he ran great routes.
Legedu Naanee also played very well last night, making a few very interesting grabs, one of which was a very clutch catch on a short slant route. Naanee could be a very useful slot receiver as well as a wide out, which makes him a dangerous weapon.
Josh Reed, despite issues with his hands last night, will provide quality depth. He has the speed and ability necessary to create separation, and his veteran experience can really help the rest of the receivers.
Despite the fact that Buster Davis was held out, he has played well so far this off season, and the added pressure of it being a contract year for him will force him to play well.
As for the fifth slot, the question mark is officially gone, because it appears that the Chargers are sold on Seyi Ajirotutu, and for good reason. Ajirotutu was the man on the spot last night, and he can easily provide quality relief when the need arises.