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Description 11 takeaways from the Chargers 36-7 loss to the Saints The third preseason game for the Los Angeles Chargers Caleb Sturgis Jersey , also known as the annual “dress rehearsal,” has come and gone with the home team losing 36-7 to the New Orleans Saints. While the score certainly isn’t very pretty, I don’t think things are quite as bleak as a 29-point loss might otherwise suggest.The truth is, the Chargers starters played pretty well on both sides of the ball. The offense, in particular, put together two solid drives against a talented and well-coached New Orleans defense – even if one ended when Rivers failed to connect with Mike Williams on a fourth-and-goal jump ball. Meanwhile, the first team defense intercepted Drew Brees and limited the Saints to a touchdown and two field goals in three red zone trips.Let’s take a look at some of the things that stood out to me – both good and bad – in Saturday’s loss to the Saints:When in doubt, run left: Mike Pouncey, Dan Feeney, and Russell Okung look like a major strength for this offense. Austin Ekeler ran the ball six times for 50 yards during the first two drives, including four carries for 38 yards behind the left side of the line. Pouncey, Feeney, and Okung didn’t just control the line of scrimmage, they owned it, and Ken Whisenhunt wasn’t the least bit shy about leaning on them. This is going to be a fun group to watch during the regular season.Austin Ekeler – RB1?: With Melvin Gordon unavailable on Saturday, Austin Ekeler started the game and was the focal point of each of the Chargers’ first two drives. Ken Whisenhunt called Ekeler’s number nine times in the team’s first seventeen offensive plays and was rewarded with 63 total yards. While I’m half-kidding when I suggest Ekeler is RB1, his vision, burst, elusiveness Cheap Melvin Ingram Jersey , and hands out of the backfield might have him ready to take on a much larger role this year. He looked fantastic.A glimpse of things to come?: The Chargers’ first drive may have revealed a new, more aggressive attitude on the part of head coach Anthony Lynn. Faced with a fourth-and-goal from the Saints four-yard line, Lynn eschewed a chip-shot field goal in favor of a jump ball for Mike Williams. Granted, Williams didn’t get open and the Chargers failed to convert, but it’s pretty telling that Lynn opted to go for it on fourth down instead of kicking the ball with a somewhat murky kicking competition taking place in camp. It seems like a big vote of confidence for Mike Williams in what has been a preseason of baby steps for the former #7 overall pick.Detrez is the man: There is little doubt at this point that Detrez Newsome is the favorite to win the third-string running back job. While his stats on Saturday certainly weren’t eye-popping, he finished with 14 touches for 44 yards and an eight-yard touchdown run. Newsome strikes me as the ideal complement to Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler and, for the first time in years, the Chargers appear to have a dynamic and versatile three-man backfield. Detrez earned it.JJ just misses: The fact that Travis Benjamin and Desmond King served as the primary return men on Saturday probably suggests Jones won’t make the roster. JJ simply isn’t an NFL wide receiver and, even with his potential as a return specialist, I the coaches likely can’t justify keeping seven receivers if the seventh man can’t at least break camp as the primary return specialist. That said, it wouldn’t surprise me if the team tries to protect him by including him on the initial 53-man roster with the intention of transferring him to the practice squad after the rest of the league has announced their practice squads. He could serve as a “placeholder” for an Antonio Gates signing, assuming the team ultimately brings him in.It’s Gates time: The Chargers played a third straight game in which their tight ends struggled to contribute as targets in the passing game. Sean Culkin caught his lone target for a seven-yard gain, but the group was otherwise invisible in the passing game. While I don’t think adding Antonio Gates changes much for this position group in terms of consistent playmaking ability, I do think his signing is probably inevitable. With that in mind, let’s get it done, already, so we can stop talking about it.Let Pooh Bear eat: Derwin James started his first game as a Charger and celebrated with an interception, a couple big hits, and a couple third down stops. Derwin showed a bit of everything you look for in a free safety when he intercepted Drew Brees on the third play of the game Cheap Jahleel Addae Jersey , including anticipation, range and electric ball skills. He’s arguably the best athlete on the team and possesses the best natural ball skills of any safety on the roster. He’s also the only safety on the roster capable of making that play. Stick James back there and good things will happen.White-out at WILL:Derwin James wasn’t the only rookie to start his first game as a Charger, as fourth-round pick Kyzir White got the nod at weakside linebacker (WILL). While he didn’t make any splash plays, White looked really good in man coverage, made a couple stops in the run game, and didn’t miss any tackles. I think he needs to work on how he reacts to play-action (a little too aggressive) and he seemed to be thinking a little out there, but it wasn’t bad for a rookie who missed the second preseason game.Brown on the bubble?: Jatavis Brown looked lost against the Saints. After making consecutive run stops to start the third quarter, Brown promptly missed his next seven tackle attempts, including an embarrassing whiff on Taysom Hill at the goal line. His reads were inconsistent, his angles were extremely poor and he was routinely beat to the edge. He looked even worse than Dwight Lowery did against the 49ers last preseason – right before he got cut. While I’m not totally convinced he’ll get cut, I think next week could ultimately decide Jatavis’ fate.Mager is in: It’s becoming pretty apparent that Craig Mager has the fifth cornerback spot on lockdown. He started the game opposite Michael Davis on the boundary, then played well into the third quarter while rotating inside to the slot. Mager went a third straight game without being targeted and I thought he played with solid technique and was generally in good position. Outside of eating a nasty stiff arm from Michael Thomas in the second quarter, Craig didn’t do anything to make me think he’s going to relinquish his hold on what figures to be the fifth and final spot on the depth chart.Chargers eliminate the dirty laundry: I thought the team executed more efficiently in all three phases of the game against the Saints and, most importantly, they more or less eliminated the mental and physical errors that led to 28 penalties over the first two preseason games. Granted, some of that is the direct result of getting the starters extended snaps, but the team definitely played its cleanest preseason game to date. In addition to avoiding major injuries, that’s the best possible outcome from the third preseason game.Well, those are my notes from the Chargers third preseason game. Overall Cheap Denzel Perryman Jersey , I thought the starters played pretty well on offense and defense, the majority of the camp battles have come to their conclusion, and the Bolts cleaned up the stupid mistakes they made through the first two preseason games. All in all, it was a pretty successful dress rehearsal for the starters. Don’t even get me started on the backups. Man, oh man, I’m really not sure how to begin this article, or any article in the near future since I still find myself screaming and hollering over the last-second victory from this past Thursday.I mean, wow. Just wow. It actually happened.However, just like the Chargers, we as a fan base can hold onto this victory for a few days but will inevitably turn our attention to next Saturday;s bout with the Baltimore Ravens and that intimidating, top-five defense.The good news heading into this week is that Melvin Gordon should be good to go and will likely bring the offense back to its’ explosive former glory. On the other hand, Keenan Allen is sure to miss the rest of the regular season after suffering a hip-pointer injury in the first half against the Chiefs.(Enter all the “Here comes the injury bug” comments.)It’s obviously a tough trade off but, with the Chargers clinching a playoff spot with their last victory, they can afford to rest Allen for the next couple weeks. Which is really, really huge.SurgeWR Mike WilliamsWhat an absolutely spectacular day by the second-year receiver out of Clemson.In a game that saw the Chargers’ top receiver go down and finish the game without a single reception, the former seventh-overall pick did more than enough to justify his selection in the top-10 as he collected a trio of touchdowns, finding pay dirt through the air twice and once on the ground.His rushing touchdown was probably the most impressive of them all. On a nifty end around, Williams took a short inside toss from Rivers after they faked another toss left to Justin Jackson. Williams found some running room off the right side thanks to a nifty block by Virgil Green on Justin Houston and number 81 did the rest.On the night, Williams had a career-high 98 total yards from scrimmage and the aforementioned three touchdowns with the game-winning two-point conversion.If Allen really does miss time into the playoffs Tyrell Williams Jersey , Williams is going to have to maintain his level of play that he exhibited against the Chiefs or this offense is going to take a significant blow at he most important time of the season.QB Philip RiversIt’s hard to believe, because it’s what we are all used to, but it finally finally happened.On Thursday night, Old Man Rivers rid himself of the Kansas City monkeys that have made their home on his back over the last five years and led his team to a walk-off victory over the Chiefs at Arrowhead, their first win in KC since the end of the 2013 season.At the end of the night, Rivers finished with a 26-of-38 of line that went for 313 yards and two touchdowns along with two interceptions. It was also the first time since 2013 that number 17 threw for multiple touchdowns while also eclipsing the 300-yard passing mark against the Chiefs.This is the type of play by Rivers that the team will be looking for as they rev up for the playoffs. He did throw a pair of interceptions against Thursday night but he found a way to make up for them down the stretch and still willed his team to a victory despite his shortcomings earlier in the game.That is the quarterback this team needs. That is the quarterback this team deserves.StaticS Jahleel AddaeHe dropped an interception that went through his hands and hit him in the facemask. I’m not sure how else to put this. He is bad and had been bad and will likely continue to be bad as long as he is allowed to be on the field.There is no speed. There are no ball-skills. There are no instincts. He has yet to make a single play this year that forces the fans to go “oh yeah, that’s why the Chargers signed him to an extension several years ago.”On the year, Addae is currently the #52 safety in the league according to Pro Football Focus.G Dan FeeneyFeeney, Feeney, Feeney....What a disappointing sophomore season it has been for last year’s third-round selection out of the University of Indiana. If you guys recall, Feeney was a two-time All-American during his career in Bloomington and was talked up as one of the top players at his position heading into the 2017 NFL Draft.But now, going into week 16 of the regular season, Feeney is currently the 72nd-graded offensive guard in the entire NFL. Do you want to know why that is extremely #bad?If there are two starting guards for each of the 32 NFL teams, then there are 64 starting guard spots in the NFL. According to PFF, there are eight non-starters that grade higher than the former-Hoosier.That bueno.From whistle to whistle, number 66 had himself rough night going up against Chiefs’ defensive tackle Chris Jones, arguably the leagues biggest breakout player of the 2018 season. He collected 2.5 sacks while constantly applying pressure on Rivers, forcing more than one errant throw in the process.
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