Rookie Melvin Ingram was impressive in his debut
Week 1 of preseason football is almost in the books. The Chargers got their first game action of the year at home against Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers. Both coaches and fans got their first looks at many of the new rookies and free agent pick ups as well as a brief look at some of the favorite Bolt veterans.
One of the most frequently discussed roster positions of the off season, RB, took center stage early in the game, and not for a good reason. Starting RB Ryan Mathews suffered a broken collar bone on his first carry and did not re-enter the game. The one upside to this however, meant that the coaching staff had the rest of the game to evaluate the rest of the RB’s.
The early leader for the backup spot, veteran Ronnie Brown, looked as good as one can look with 4 touches (3 carries and 1 catch) collecting 16 yards total. Curtis Brinkley took the majority of the reps at RB during the game. He scored a TD on a leaping 1 yard goal line effort. He finished the day with 11 carries for 42 yards and 4 catches for 15 more yards. Considering what looked to sub par run blocking for most of the game this was a pretty solid effort.
Rookie UDFA Michael Hayes had a handfull (6) of carries for 10 yards. Hayes also had 1 kick return that he took from 9 yards deep in the end zone out to the 23 yard line. He looked the part of a rookie in this game. He fumbled his first hand off and looked hesitant in his reads trying to find running lanes. He will need a much better showing in the following weeks to make the team as he is already facing an uphill battle with such a crowded backfield.
Philip Rivers looked solid in his limited snaps. In typical Rivers fashion he spread the ball around well finding multiple receivers. His one miscue came when he tried to force a pass to new weapon Robert Meachem and was picked off. He did however hook up with his favorite target Antonio Gates for a wide open 23 yard touchdown pass.
The rest of the offensive snaps were taken by rookie QB Jarret Lee. Lee looked comfortable in the pocket and made almost every throw. He did have one interception but he made up for that with a great 27 yard TD pass to Vincent Brown. He finished the day 15/22 for 235 yards 1 TD and 1 INT. To me he looked very solid in his debut.
Another position that will be under the spot light after the departure of Vincent Jackson will be the WR’s. Vincent Brown picked up where he left off last season as a downfield threat picking up 81 yards on 4 receptions. UDFA Taylor Embree made the most of his first ‘audition’ by catching 2 passes for a whopping 54 yards. He went up and attacked the ball well on both catches. He looks like another big bodied WR, which the Chargers love, that can move well and go up to battle for the ball. FA acquisition Michael Spurlock also had a nice night with 2 catches for 52 yards including an impressive 45 yard catch and run.
The offensive line was up and down again. Jeromey Clary continues to struggle in pass protection. UDFA Mike Harris filled in as the starter at LT for the injured Jared Gaither and did very well. He held sack artist Clay Mathews to 0 sacks on the day and overall looked very solid. The unit as a whole failed to produce any solid holes in the run game. This will need to be improved quickly especially with starting RB Mathews out with injury for 3-6 weeks.
Over to defense.
The defense looked fast and aggressive. The defensive line looks much more athletic than last year. There was consistently 1 or 2 DL pushing into the back field and/or drawing a double team freeing up the linebackers to make tackles. This was very evident in the run game where the longest carry for the Packers was 6 yards and none of their RB’s averaged more than 3 ypc. Any time a Packer RB broke past the line of scrimmage there were multiple bolt jerseys swarming the ball carrier. 2nd round pick Kendall Reyes in particular was very fun to watch displaying good athleticism and a very high motor.
3rd down defense also showed improvement over last season. The Packers only managed to convert 38% of their 3rd down tries, where last year the Chargers allowed almost 50% of opposing 3rd downs to be completed.
The secondary looked fairly solid as a whole, however, where the front 7 looked very aggressive on the day, the secondary looked very conservative and almost soft. Multiple times it looked like the WR was being given too much of a cushion and the DB was just waiting to make a tackle. Rookie Greg Gatson was picked on constantly throughout the game and did not have a very good day. Almost every pass thrown in his direction was a catch unless it was a terrible pass.
Rookie Melvin Ingram was electric for the Bolts. He was everywhere. He beat any OL he was matched up against multiple times with a variety of moves. He pressured the QB very well, and hit Rodgers forcing a bad pass which lead to an Antoine Cason INT. In pass coverage he was out of position a few times, but quickly recovered due to his outstanding athleticism. He lined up all over the field and had an impact no matter where he started. He will be fun to watch this year.
All in all this was a good 1st game for the Chargers. We got a very long look at Lee, Ingram, Reyes, etc. Mathews was the only notable injury from the game. All the veterans that played looked fresh and healthy. And we won.
I will be tweeting live next week as I will be in San Diego at the game against the Cowboys. Look for pictures and updates during the game followed by another recap article.