5 important things to look for in final pre-season game for the Chargers
As the preseason continues on every team has certain storylines they like to see play out. Much has been written about of the bolts this offseason but I have a few things that are lesser written about that I want and look forward to playing out in the final game of the offseason. Five of them to be exact. Some I hold as being a little more important than others but all equally important during the long stretch of a season. The one most glaring and obvious need for the team last season that has yet to be answered is who is the kicker? This is what held this team back in 2017 and stopped them from making a true playoff push. Let’s start there shall we!?!?
Head coach Anthony Lynn insists that the kicker position is still open and even has said that the team has considered carrying two kickers on the roster. Well having the 2 kickers on the roster is not only unheard of but also a waste of a roster space. Much of this talk has to do with the fact that we haven’t seen much of a competition at all. The kickers have not had much of an opportunity this offseason as far as the preseason games go because of circumstances and in game situations. Well no surprise as the offense hasn’t been so consistent under the control of that “intense” backup quarterback battle. None the less, if a kicker really is going to separate themselves from one another and have a true chance to win the competition they need to be given in game field goal opportunities. The coaches can have them kick in practice all they want a million times over again but yet nothing will match the true experience of kicking in a true game situation. Kickers seem to get a bad wrap as it must be quit nerve racking to sit on the sideline the whole game and then have to come into the game with one job that has been stewing in their minds all game long. I want to see these guys tested under the pressure and intensity of a real game and under pressure. In order to do so then feel free to settle for as many field goals as necessary to get these guys as many opportunities to do so as possible.
Second thing I would like to see improvement on is the defense showing better play when it comes to covering the flats. The first three games to often the team has allowed to many yards in this area, wheather its swing passes out of the backfield or short drag routes to receivers they need to do better. The outside linebackers need to be better in diagnosing a play and reacting rather than relying on speed. Guy’s like Jatavis Brown and Kayzir White need to react to those plays at least one step faster. Both Players have incredible closing speed to do so and yet the anticipation needs to improve by a mere second as that can make all the difference in making a great play or barley missing a guy by a fingers tip reach. I would also like to see second round pick Uchenna Nwosu get more coverage assignments to see if he can truly become an every down outside linebacker.
When it comes to the all-powerful tackler and middle linebacker Denzel Perryman nobody is as hopeful and excited about him then I am. I have been ever since evaluating prospects pre-draft the year they selected him and was stunned and happy all at the same time when they selected him. While all Chargers fans know that he is a hammering run stuffer and absolute spark and difference maker for this defense, I have noticed his lapse in judgment while in pass protection this pre-season. It is just pre-season and I’m not putting too much traction behind this but if he is to become the every down middle linebacker we want and need then he needs to improve in this area. This is what these practice games are for, to work these kinks out. I have no doubt he will noticeably improve in this area as the season progresses, I would just like to see a step in the right direction in the last practice game before the bell rings.
Last season the team selected Forrest Lamp in the second round and much hype and excitement came with him. Unfortuanetly that was put at a hault as he suffered a season ending knee injury before we could even see what he could do. He was held out of most of the beginning of training camp this year and the cautious approach not only makes sense but is smart. He was cleared about a week in a half ago now and they are easing him in to action slowly. He participated in one on one drills during joint practices with the Saints but didn’t see scrimmage or game action. This week I would like to see the team ramp up his workload and give him as much playing time during the final pre-season game as possible. Long term he projects as the starter moving forward as Michael Schofield hasn’t looked all that great during the first three games. Having Lamp healthy and starting will help solidify this offensive line as one of the best this organization has seen in a number of years. He has the talent and athletic ability to play left tackle as he did throughout his collegiate days. If he is able to come close to his potential then the teams running backs should be in for a huge year. This will help control the game clock throughout the season.
The fifth and final point I would like to make is I would like to see, and stop me if you have heard this from me before, I want to see undrafted rookie quarterback Nic Shimonek get his fair share of opportunities to showcase what he is capable of. As I have mentioned before the backup quarterback competition has been anything less than impressive. Schimonek has a big arm and has been given very little time on the clock to show much. All of about ten minutes through three games that is. Jones and Smith have had ample time and chances to prove themselves and haven’t exactly wowed anyone. I believe Schimonek is already at this moment better then Jones and given some opportunity on say the practice squad to develop could end up with a higher ceiling then Geno Smith even. Head coach Anthony Lynn has already said that most starters, Phillip Rivers included, will not play in the final pre-season game. This should leave no excuse to not let this kid have anything less than a full quarter of playing time. If not then it will only show a certain bias and undeserving favoritism towards players and possibly effect undrafted rookies wanting to sign with the team in the future.