The San Diego Chargers' first preseason game of the 2011 season is now over. Though the Chargers lost 24-17 to the Seattle Seahawks, it should be noted that the preseason is more of a learning experience than it is a competition between two teams.
In their loss, the Chargers did some things reasonably well, and others, substantially poor. Either way, both positive and negative aspects of their game should be reviewed carefully and built upon if positive, and worked on if negative.
Here are five things that the San Diego Chargers need to take away from their preseason game against the Seattle Seahawks.
The San Diego Chargers upgraded their defensive front (which, for those unfamiliar with the team's defense, includes three down linemen and four linebackers) and added some key youngsters to the mix.
And it paid off.
Corey Liuget and fellow rookie Darryl Gamble looked solid—they put enough pressure on the Seahawks' backfield to irritate the quarterbacks. The pass rush was sharp on most plays, which is nice to see if you're a Chargers' fan that watched the team for the majority of the 2010 season.
Overall, the Chargers' defense looked good enough to key in on the pass rush and consistently forced both Charlie Whitehurst and Tarvaris Jackson to scramble before getting off a pass.
Entering the preseason, the San Diego Chargers were thin at the linebacker position.
Undrafted rookie free agent Darryl Gamble may have given the Chargers a little more depth.
Gamble was extremely impressive against the Seahawks—he managed to compile eight tackles and consistently got into the Seattle backfield, forcing Tarvaris Jackson to step up (of course, Jackson tends to bounce around rather than just "step up") and Charlie Whitehurst to be uncomfortable in the pocket.
Darryl Gamble was solid covering the run and knew how to plug gaps when needed.
The San Diego Chargers may have a gem in Gamble.
Last season, the San Diego Chargers managed to knock themselves out of the playoff race thanks to a frustrating lack of discipline.
Penalties weren't all that much of a problem in 2010; rather, dropped passes, missed blocking assignments due to lazy play and slow rotation of the linebackers to the ball-carrier all damned the Chargers' playoff hopes.
This year is better, but only slightly, so far.
The Chargers looked good when they didn't have their fourth unit out there, but the defensive line was a tad jumpy, and that's a discipline issue more than anything else. Offensively, the team was decent and didn't make crucial (for a preseason) errors.
Since this is the first preseason game of the season, it's likely that they just weren't on the same page due to an abbreviated training camp. Regardless, expect the coaching staff to stress discipline.
Though things were shaky on the defensive end for the Chargers (due to penalties and other small mishaps), the Bolts' defense looked beastly.
Aside from the front seven doing their job, the secondary looked mean against the Seahawks. That might not mean much against the Seahawks in the preseason, but compared to last preseason, this defense was far more aggressive.
Bob Sanders and Takeo Spikes made their presence known, and those two might have been the difference makers in terms of what the defense looks like. Sanders is a legit safety while Spikes is easily one of the best linebackers in the game, and both proved just that.
The defense swarmed to a reasonable degree, overall, and a combined effort between newcomers like Corey Liuget (who, surprisingly, played nose tackle — he's a bit undersized for such a role in a 3-4 defense), Darryl Gamble, Bob Sanders and Takeo Spikes make the defense look much better than it did last season.
After the 2010 season, it was no secret that the San Diego Chargers' special teams unit essentially shot down the team's playoff hopes. The Bolts gave up countless scores on returns, had numerous punts by Mike Scifres blocked and hardly ever got decent field position.
Against the Seahawks, the Chargers were the team returning kickoffs for touchdowns (actually, they had one courtesy wideout Bryan Walters, but still).
The Seattle Seahawks didn't have any big punt or kickoff returns and the Chargers had fair field position to start most drives. Nothing stood out with the Chargers' special teams unit, and that might be a good thing.