Eight Grades of the San Diego Chargers Performance vs. Dallas Cowboys
Last night was the San Diego Chargers, 22nd annual Salute to the Military, complete with a field length flag waved by local Marines and Sailors, and fly-over of F/A-18 Hornets from Marine Corps Air Station, Miramar.
The Chargers riding the emotional high from the festivities of the night were hoping to continuing their winning ways after an impressive game against the Chicago Bears, unfortunately the Dallas Cowboys had other plans.
Although the game never materialized into the hard hitting spectacle we hoped it would have been, but what can you expect—it's preseason.
Grades were given based on some individual performance, and others as a unit.
Philip Rivers, B
Philip Rivers was playing with the intensity of a regular season football game.
Rivers played for the entire first half, completing 11 passes on 15 attempts for 125 yards, and an interception. He also rushed for a 1-yard touchdown.
With the first team offense, Rivers was moving the ball down field quite efficiently, mixing up the passing game between his receivers, running backs, and tight ends.
However, Rivers didn't make the highlight reel for his passing game.
With 3:17 left in the second quarter, and the Chargers deep in Cowboys territory, Rivers threw a pass to running back Darren Sproles who coughed up the ball when hit. Cowboys defensive back Barry Church picked up the ball and ran down field towards the endzone, but he stopped short after being tackled by non-other than Philip Rivers.
Rivers could be seen running his mouth at Chruch, while he was on top of him. It would have been interesting to hear that exchange of words.
Ryan Mathews, A
You can ask any San Diego Chargers fan, if they miss departed running back LaDainian Tomlinson. Most every fan will respond, "LT who?".
With that being said, most fans are looking forward to the explosive running style of first-round draft pick Ryan Mathews.
Mathews continued last Saturday's breakout performance against the Chicago Bears, with another rushing showcase against a tough Cowboys defense.
While only playing he first-half with the rest of the first-team offense, Mathews rushed for 53 yards on 12 carries, and was even involved in the passing game, catching one pass for 13 yards.
Mathews, continued to show fans he has no problem running up the middle, unlike a former Chargers running back now with the New York Jets. He showed how dangerous he can be when given some room to run, breaking a nice nine-yard gain off a sweep.
I can't wait until the regular season, when we can see Mathews for more than just a half at a time.
Malcolm Floyd and Legedu Naanee, A-
The Chargers wide receivers corps showed they can definitely pick up the slack in the absence of Vincent Jackson.
Malcolm Floyd showed why he was Philip Rivers favorite target during training camp practices.
Floyd, who has emerged as the Chargers number one receiver on the depth chart, showed fans why they shouldn't be sweating the holdout of Vincent Jackson.
Floyd, has the speed and hands that could definitely make him a Pro Bowl caliber player. He had three receptions for 47 yards with his longest reception going for 18-yards.
Legedu Naanee, continued on his outstanding performance of last Saturday's win against the Bears, by catching two balls for 12 yards. Naanee wasn't heavily targeted during the Cowboys game as he was during the Bears game.
It will be interesting to see how his game evolves after being promoted to the number two receiver on the depth chart this preseason.
Offensive Line, A
The Chargers offensive line once again showed they can get the job done even without Pro Bowl left tackle Marcus McNeill.
Brandyn Dombrowski, getting his second start this preseason at left tackle, showed that he has the skills to protect his quarterback's blind slide.
Dombrowski, has been making excellent strides at left tackle after being inserted with the first-team offense after veteran left tackle Tra Thomas had his knee scoped during the early part of training camp.
Thomas, who was signed this offseason as an insurance policy during the holdout of Marcus McNeill, decided to retire yesterday after playing 12 NFL seasons with Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars. Thomas also played in three Pro Bowls.
With Dombrowski, as of now at the top of the depth chart at left tackle, second-year man Tyronne Green may now find himself as Dombrowski's back-up.
Green, who had been working with the first-team offense all last week in preparation for the game against the Cowboys, and was looking to start with the first-team offesne, sustained an ankle injury that sidlined him for the game.
While the injury wasn't serious, the Chargers didn't want to take a chance, especially with the makeshift patch job they are doing in McNeill's absence.
The offensive line held their own against the Dallas Cowboys first-team defense only allowing one sack on Philip Rivers in the first-half.
The first-team defensive line put on quite a show during the first-half of Saturday's game against the Cowboys.
The Chargers defense continued their stingy ways, allowing the Cowboys just 49 yards of total offense in the first-half.
Although, the defense was unable to get any pressure on Dallas quarterback Tony Romo, they were however able to shut down the Cowboys rushing attack.
Cowboys running back Marion Barber gained only 13 yards on 3 carries.
Knowing that the Cowboys weren't going to be able to gain any yards on the ground, they switched it up and went to the air.
Once again, the Chargers secondary found themselves on their heels instead of their toes. While, the secondary did come up some great plays, Cowboys wide receiver Austin Miles was able to beat Chargers corner Quentin Jammer for a touchdown.
It will be interesting to see what changes defensive coordinator Ron Rivera will make to the secondary as the Chargers get ready to face the World Champion New Orleans Saints.
Special Teams, B
Special teams, continued to build on the solid performance they had against the Bears.
Mike Scifres finally saw some action this preseaon.
Scifres, who was pretty much slient during the Chargers first preseason game against the Bears, however he found himself on the field four times against the Cowboys.
Scifres, aka "The Leg", punting from the Chargers 26-yard line, launched a 61-yard punt that landed at the Dallas 13-yard line, however it was returned 15 yards to the Dallas 28-yard line.
With :36 seconds left in the first-half and punting from the Cowboys 48-yard line, sent a 39-yard punt that landed out of bounds at the Cowboys 9-yard line pinning them deep in their own territory with little time, and chance of running a two-minute drill and trying to score before the end of the half.
Wide receiver/kick returner Richard Goodman is making headway in hopes of trying to make the Chargers 53-man roster. After returning a kick 51-yards to give the Chargers excellent field position against the Bears, Goodman was able to get two good blocks from Antonio Garay, and Curtis Brinkley to return a kick to the 40-yard line.
It's amazing what can happen in one week.
The Chargers were on the receiving end of the Bears mistakes last Saturday with two takeaways, however the Cowboys were the ones that benefited from the Chargers mistakes last night.
The Chargers turned the ball over three times last night (four times if you count the fumble recovered in the Chargers own endzone), on a Philip Rivers interception, Darren Sproles fumble, Jonathon Crompton interception, and another fumble by Crompton that was recovered by the Chargers in the endzone for a safety.
In the game of football where a turnover can change the entire balance of the game in a moment, you need to make sure you can't let the other team capatilize off your mistakes. The Chargers need to regroup and not let those fundamental errors become a problem.
Otherwise, the season will be over before it even begins.
Surprisingly the Chargers offense, defense and special teams all seemed to be on the same page when it came to penalties.
Last week against the Chicago Bears the Chargers were penalized ten times for 81 yards, against the Cowboys the Chargers were penalized 4 times for 31 yards. A vast improvement from a week ago.
This week Jeromey Clary kept his nose clean. He was penalized three times last week for false starts, two penalties came on back to back snaps, creating a 10-yard deficit for the Chargers. This week against the Cowboys the Chargers were only penalized once for a false start, and that was against Louis Vasquez.
It is a sign that things are coming together on the offensive line, and that head coach Norv Turner is stressing the importance of not creating a bad situation with stupid penalties.
Next Game: at New Orleans Saints, A
The Chargers are set to begin a two game road trip before heading to Kansas City to start the regular season.
Next week, the Bolts are set to face the reigning World Champions, the New Orleans Saints.
Drew "Cool" Brees, will be set to face his former employers, the team that let him go to a franchise in need of a quarterback and bring it to greatness. He led the Saints to their first world championship and in turn became the hero of a city struggling to rebuild.
Next weeks matchup should be closely watched, because in my mind this may be a preview of a game we might all be watching in February at Texas Stadium.