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Five Lessons from Preseason Week 1
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Thursday’s preseason opener gave us our first look at the 2013 San Diego Chargers. Here are five lessons we learned from the game.
1. Starting Offense in Sync – It was only one series, but the 13-play, 74-yard drive the starting offense orchestrated in their lone appearance was mighty impressive. Overall, they were in sync, mixing up the pass with the run to keep the defense off-balance. Philip Rivers was 5-of-6 for 45 yards, and he spread the ball around to five different receivers in Eddie Royal, John Phillips, Antonio Gates, Malcom Floyd and Keenan Allen. On the ground, Ryan Mathews gained 19 yards on three carries, highlighted by an athletic leap for nine yards on 4th-and-inches. There is still a long way to go before the regular season opens on September 9th, but in their first act of the year, the starting offense was in sync.
2. Starting Defense Impresses Too – Not to be outdone, the starting defensive unit forced two punts in their only two series of the game. It was very encouraging to see Dwight Freeney constantly disrupting Russell Wilson by getting into the backfield with a variety of moves. Between the pass rush and a strong secondary, they limited the Pro Bowl quarterback to just two completions on six attempts for 22 yards.
3. McCoy IS Aggressive– It didn’t take long to figure out what type of head coach Mike McCoy will be on the sideline. Faced with an early fourth down decision, he decided to roll the dice and go for it. He was rewarded with the aforementioned Ryan Mathews first down gain. According to McCoy, the decision was an easy one to make since he plans on being an aggressive coach. Here is what he had to say:
“The first drive of the season, I have to make a decision on two fourth and ones. The first one, I told (offensive coordinator) Ken (Whisenhunt), ‘hey, we’re going to go for it if we get anywhere close’. I want to set the attitude of what the approach to this football team is going to be. We said we’re going to be aggressive and attack and score as many points as we can as quickly as we can, so it’s a great opportunity.”
4. Offensive Line Making Strides – It was the first real test for the reconstructed starting five up front, and according to Philip Rivers, they aced the test. With only Nick Hardwick returning in the same position, it would be understandable if there were breakdowns and chemistry issues. But as the Chargers quarterback said, he was impressed by the job they did Thursday night, even though he also warned no one should get carried away. Here is what he had to say
“They had a heck of a series – running game and passing game. The one ball I hit to (Antonio) Gates, it went back through the progression again, the pocket was so good. All those guys have been great all camp. I’ve spoken highly of them already. The communication and how quickly they’ve meshed together is the key. Just hearing Nick (Hardwick) out there today directing traffic, he and I, and the communication on the protection calls, and everybody being on the same page, it was good to get started. Had we come out and gone three and out and punted two times, I wouldn’t want to get too carried away with that either, so I don’t think we should do this as well and think we’re really rolling.
5. “A” for Effort – Meeting with the media after the game, McCoy immediately pointed to the team’s effort on each and every play. Heading into the preseason opener, he repeated many times that he wanted to see effort and energy on each play. He understands that from time to time every player will get physically beat, but the one thing you can control no matter what is how hard you play. Here is what he had to say:
“I would like to start off by saying that the overall effort is what we were looking for from the team. You look around and just from the first view from the sideline, the guys, they played hard. That’s what we’re trying to establish here is going out and playing with the right effort.”