Preseason Prognosis

Featured columnist Michael Fritchoff takes a hard look at the team - one game into the 2001 preseason

The first game of the Chargers preseason has come and gone, but how much stock should be placed in preseason? During the horrid 2000 season, the Chargers went 4-0 in preseason, looked very strong, but when it came time for the games that really count, they overslept going 1-15. In 1999, the Chargers went 0-5 in preseason, but finished with a respectable 8-8 record, just missing the playoffs.

So, after the Chargers 25-24 victory over the 49'ers, how should this game and the rest of preseason be looked at?

It shouldn't matter what the teams record is, but how the team plays. After the first game, the Chargers coaching staff should be very pleased.

Doug Flute lived up to expectations, throwing a touchdown pass to Curtis Conway midway through the first quarter. Flutie finished the game 8-10 passing and the one touchdown.

Former CFL quarterback Dave Dickinson finished the game 17-27 and 192 yards passing. Dickinson also threw the touchdown to cut the deficit to 24-23. It was Dickinson's extra-point conversion to Deronnie Pettis that ultimately won the game with less than 50 seconds left.

LaDanian Tomlinson's replacement, Ronney Jenkins had a very solid game getting 6 carries and turning that into 58 yards. Jenkins topped off his night with a 29-yard touchdown run in the first quarter.

The first year linebacker and former USC Trojan Zeke Moreno picked off a Rick Mirer pass late in the second quarter.

The Chargers offensive line led a potent running game that ran for over 122 yards in the game.

Things weren't all good for the Bolts in the game. 49er quarterback Jeff Garcia seemed to walk right over the Chargers first string defense, which led to a 16-yard pass to receiver Cedric Wilson.

The Chargers Wade Richey has some big shoes to fill, as he will replace John Carney. In Richey's first game, he made his two PAT's, but was unable to hit a 39-yard field goal.

The major concern heading into the game was not how the team would play, whether the team would win or even if Flutie could live up to expectations. No, the major concern is when the Chargers top pick in the 2001 draft will sign. LaDanian Tomlinson is expected to be a huge part of the Chargers' offense and this is the time for him to get playing time.

No matter how anyone looks at the game, win or lose, this was a success. Charger fans got to see Flutie in action for the first time and most importantly, football is finally back.

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