What Worked? What Didn't?

The San Diego Chargers opened their preseason with a 20-7 loss against the Seattle Seahwaks. Pluses and minuses come from every game. Here we analyze what worked, what didn't and the jury that is still out on the battles in camp.

What worked?

Sammy Davis in the secondary.

Davis was tested early and responded with solid coverage. The three times he was thrown out produced one incompletion, one completion that came up short on a third down play and one interception in the end zone saving a touchdown. His heel is now bothering him again. The extent of the injury is unknown at this time, but it did cost him practice time during the first two weeks of training camp.

Omari Hand at defensive end.

Hand was all over the place. He provided the most hustle of anyone along the defense line and was routinely in on tackles on the far side of the field from where he began the play. He also pursued every play down the field and his perseverance paid off with one tackle down where the safeties were stationed, again on the far side of the field. He also shed blocks well at the line on running plays. While occasionally he did miss the tackle, it was not for lack of effort. Hand made big strides towards getting a role in the Chargers defense.

Otis Leverette at defensive end.

Is the competition heating up? You bet it is. Leverette was in the middle of a lot of plays at the line of scrimmage. He ended the game as the team's leading tackler with seven tackles (5 solo). While he did not display the hustle of Hand, he didn't have to. He made the tackles that came his way. With his long wingspan he was able to tackle runners while being blocked.

LeMarcus McDonald on special teams, and his speed on defense.

McDonald was all over the place on special teams. Within the first minute of the game, McDonald had two special teams tackles. He would add a third later in the game. McDonald also just missed an interception. On a quick slant, McDonald read the play and broke on the ball. The ball would go off his fingertips as dreams of end zone dances swam in his head.

The punters.

Mike Scifres and Darren Bennett provided consistency on punts. Bennett had an average of 43.7 per kick and Scifres had a 43.8-yard average. If not for the hurried kick by Scifres after the missed block by Andrew Pinnock that resulted in a 38-yard kick, Scifres average would have been 45.3 on the day.

David Binn

Binn getting print? Are you kidding me? No, I am not. Binn is not only one of the best long snappers in the game, he shows great awareness and veteran hustle being the first man down the field on punts. His efforts paid off when he recovered a fumble by Urban.

What didn't work?

Punt coverage.

The Chargers allowed five punts to be returned in total and 79 yards came on three of those returns. One went for 36; one went for 33 and the other for 10. Ten should be the high on any punt return.

Brian Sump fielding a punt on a bounce.

Call it nerves, call it trying to make something out of nothing. With the defense bearing down on Sump, he tried to catch a punt on a hop. The ball landed in his hands, but his eyes came up before he had the ball secured. The result was a muff and the Seahawks recovered. He did not get another chance to redeem himself as the next few punts the ‘Hawks had excellent coverage on and he had little room to use his speed.

Josh Norman.

Norman is the number one drive killer the Chargers have on offense. He single-handedly stopped a drive the Chargers had going. The Chargers, starting out at their own 23 had driven the ball into Seattle territory. Facing third down and five, Drew Brees found a wide-open Norman near the sidelines. Norman, with no one around him, simply dropped the ball. It was not that he took his eyes off it expecting a hit; He simply dropped the ball, again. Memories of last year fade into memory and become nightmares. Norman did not get another chance the rest of the game.

Taking care of the rock.

Besides the Sump muff, the Chargers had two other turnovers both happening in Seattle territory.

First Cleo Lemon tried to thread a ball into Tim Baker in the end zone. The ball bounced off the hands of Baker and into the waiting arms of Bierria. It was the fault of both men as Baker really should have caught it, and Lemon should have delivered the ball a little lower so Baker could catch it just above the ground. Instead the duo gave away a sure three points. The swing became greater when Seattle marched down the field and got a field goal of their own.

Then Seth Burford scrambling out of the pocket did not take the opportunity to slide. Facing a third and three, Burford flushed out to his right and had daylight. EIGHT yards later he coughed up the ball after getting hit. He had the first down and tried to make a play to catch the coaches' eyes. Well he accomplished the feat, but in a negative fashion.

Stopping the pass.

When the Seahawks threw the ball it generally went for a completion, Davis notwithstanding. Matt Hasselbeck went 8-11 for 75 yards and Seneca Wallace went 6-9 for 78 yards. Its not that the Chargers defense did a bad job, they just did not do a good job. Seattle QBs were flushed from the pocket seven times total and the defense got two sacks out of it. I guess that counts as good coverage down the field. Besides one 41 yard catch, the longest the defense allowed was 15 yards. Not bad, not good when the completion percentage is still 70%.

Careful play.

The Chargers committed 10 penalties on the day. The first one came on the first play of the game, the kickoff. The coverage team had just pinned the Seahawks deep in their own zone and the play cost them roughly ten yards and started the defense out on a low that they could not rebound from.

An illegal block on Jason Ball cost the team a first down and they ended up punting. A false start by Michael Keathley cost the Chargers five crucial yards inside the Seahawks ten-yard line. The next play was when Lemon threw his interception. A 15-yard roughing the passer call put the Seahawks in field goal range when the defense was playing well.

The Jury is still out on:

Nick Maddox in the Ronnie Harmon role.

Maddox caught four passes and had ten rushes for 72 yards with a long of 38. Take away the long gain and he had just a 3.8 average per rush. He had one drop in the flat that should have been caught. And although he had nifty moves, he did not show he could shed tacklers.

The rest of the running backs.

DeMarco McCleskey and Dahrran Diedrick had one play apiece where they gained good yardage and one play apiece that saw them stopped at or around the line of scrimmage. Both caught the ball out of the backfield but didn't make much happen. On their long runs they broke tackles, but with such a small sampling it is hard to decipher.

Andrew Pinnock

Pinnock had two nice blocks during the game. One kept Cleo Lemon safe in the backfield. The other sprang Nick Maddox on his long gain for 38 yards. Pinnock, however, was almost the cause of the blocked punt. The man he had got by him and came close to blocking the Scifres punt.

The receiving battle

No one stood out. This is not all the receivers fault, but a compilation of QB to WR mistakes. Routes were run poorly all around, balls were delivered high, or to the wrong shoulder. There was no timing whatsoever. It was ugly out there as QBs completed just 50% overall for the Bolts.

Kassim Osgood cannot come back soon enough.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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