Preseason Stock

The San Diego 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. This year the Bolts took middle ground with a 2-2 record, what will the real season hold?

So, after the Chargers 24-3 victory over the 49'ers, how should this game and the rest of the concluded preseason be looked at?

It shouldn't matter what the teams' record is, but how the team plays. Isn't the goal of the preseason to see players get better on a weekly basis?

Drew Brees looks sharper than a season ago, and his ball is being threaded into receivers instead of the easy loft he had last year. No interceptions, one touchdown and a completion percentage close to 65%. Not bad for the limited work he saw.

Eric Parker showed his own explosiveness with two punt returns for touchdowns. Quentin Jammer showed why he is now off the punt return team as he committed a penalty both times Parker returned the ball for touchdowns to nullify the play.

Third year linebacker and former USC Trojan Zeke Moreno led all starters in tackles and 100% of his reads were right over the first few games.

Otis Leverette led all Chargers in tackles with 20 and had one forced fumble.

Chargers running backs averaged 4.66 yards per carry over the course of the preseason, a tribute to them and the play of all the offensive line units.

Terry Charles led all receivers with 10 catches for 137 yards and was still cut in favor of Kassim Osgood.

The Chargers doubled their interception total in preseason game four when Drayton Florence and Sammy Davis each had an interception. Davis had the only other interception of the preseason.

There are still always going to be a few concerns. Some units even digressed as the preseason wore on.

The placekicking remains unsettled with two misses against the Niners. Without consistency from outside 40, the Chargers are banking on a young defensive secondary to save them. Any misses from outside the 40 would result in the opponent needing just 20-30 yards for a field goal attempt of their own and a 6-10 point swing. Field goal consistency wins football games.

Kickoffs by Mike Scifres that were landing between the end zone and the ten yard line with regularity are now landing between the ten and twenty yards line too often.

The Chargers may have escaped the game on Friday relatively injury free, but the health of players is still a concern as lingering problems dating back to last year, the nagging injuries in training camp and the overall need of the top end players to remain healthy is in doubt. Injuries that hinder a player now could turn out to be injuries that hamper a player all year. The Chargers cannot afford that.

David Boston averaged just 6.8 yards per reception on his four catches, so much for big play ability.

In the end preseason is what you make of it. It can be a blessing and it can be a nightmare (just ask Atlanta and the Jets).

What we do know is preseason is erased and the real season is about to begin and it cannot arrive soon enough.

One more thing we know:

The Chargers are sitting atop the division as of today. They just need to stay that way for the rest of the year. We are not asking much.

Denis Savage can be reached at safage@cox.net

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