Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Preseason is Over!

Just a few things came out of the ugliest game we hope to see until next preseason:

  • Rookie Safety Darrell Stuckey made more progress, looking a little more comfortable out there, making a few plays and showing his hitting ability. The Chargers need Stuckey to mature, because Gregory, the projected starter, showed that while he's gritty and knows his responsibilities, just isn't up to par physically on an NFL field. He and Weddle are starting to specialize in getting run over by big opposing running backs. This has been a problem in the playoffs the past few years. Last year, while everyone likes to focus on Cromartie's phantom tackle, remember Jets running back Shonn Greene actually ran over Weddle on his 60-yard TD run to end the Chargers' season. A couple years before that, on a crucial third down play against the Steelers toward the end of the game Gregory was run over by Willie Parker on a big run that may have made the difference in the game. The Chargers possess the two least intimidating safeties in the league and need Stuckey to grow into the starting job by the end of the season if they are going to do better than previous years in the playoffs.

  • Larry English made a play! English stopped the 49er running back in the backfield on a well read 4th and short pitch play. It still looks like Antwan Applewhite is the better play maker out there. If Merriman proves injury prone again this season, it will be interesting to see if Applewhite eventually pushes for a starting job.

  • The new guy looks sharp:Recently acquired cornerback (from Houston), Fred Bennett, made a strong play on a deep ball and took it away from the receiver for an interception. This guy is quick, strong, and athletic, making the rusty Nathan Vashar expendable (I thought Vashar had showed some spark and might regain his first string form with time, but AJ & co. seem to have made the right call here).

  • The Chargers generally stood up against the Singletary-toughened Niners, but the defense still looks flawed. San Francisco did not display any passing attack, but the Chargers defense again showed some weakness against the run. To start the season, it's hard to rate the front seven as anything but below average. This fact, added to what was said above about the weakness at safety, should worry fans going into the season. The only part of the defense I'm not worried about is the cornerback position. Jammer and Cason will be great as starters. Strickland and Bennett are experienced and extremely strong nickle or dime backs. If the Chargers could generate any kind of pass rush, this group could get many picks this season.

  • The most notable occurrence on offense was the big night of Buster Davis. He showed he could go deep, across the middle and perform tight comeback routes leaving corners five yards up field. Hopefully, he will stay healthy and continue to develop his confidence. I can see Davis in the slot catching slants across the middle in open space and going for 30+ yards as opposing safeties focus too much on Antonio Gates.

The biggest news in Chargerville had nothing to do with Thursday's ugly marathon slog. In picking up wide receiver Patrick Crayton from Dallas, San Diego added some needed veteran experience and talent. They thought former Bill Josh Reed would provide this, but all he showed this preseason was an incredible ability to drop balls. Crayton is reliable and can still get deep time to time at the advance NFL age of 31. All this may be bad news for Legedu Naanee, who may end up as an occasional slot receiver (the same role he's had the past two years) behind Buster Davis. Norv may let Davis and Naanee battle it out at slot for awhile to see who is more effective.

This team may be reverting to the Fouts era Chargers with a nearly unstoppable passing attack, weaker running game, and even weaker defense. That sounds exciting, but that team never made it to, much less won, a Super Bowl either.

I'll post my 2o10 regular season preview later this week.

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