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Five Lessons from the 49ers Game

Posted Aug 25, 2014

Here are your weekly five lessons from the past week's game.

Here are five lessons we learned from Sunday’s 21-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers:

1. Message Received on Defense – Defensive Coordinator John Pagano challenged his unit to rebound from a dismal showing against the Seattle Seahawks.  He wanted them to tackle better and rush the passer in addition to causing turnovers and stopping the run.  The good news is it was mission accomplished for the starting defense who answered the bell loud and clear.  Eric Weddle explained it was all about returning to who the defense is at it’s core:

“It’s a point of emphasis to go out, have fun and get back to realizing this game is the most fun game in the world. And to get out of camp mode and going against each other. We’re a team now. Let’s go play against someone else and root on our teammates. When someone does something good, be happy and ecstatic and excited about playing this game. That was one of the big differences from playing last week. Our energy and excitement was up and we played like it. When our front and backfield play together and do what we’re coached to do, we can play really well.”

 

2.  1st Down Conversion Needs Work–  The Bolts were the best team in the league last year at converting on third downs, but they struggled mightily in that department on Sunday.  They finished the game only 4-of-14, succeeding just 29% of the time.  That doesn’t include coming up short on fourth down when Ryan Mathews was stopped just shy of the sticks in the red zone.  While disappointed in the team’s performance to this end, Head Coach Mike McCoy is optimistic the team will improve in that area:

“Unfortunately the short-yardage situation and going for it, we stubbed our toe there, just a little break down there in what we’re supposed to be doing, so that’s on us as coaches, we’ve got to do a better job there and get the players to execute in a critical situation. But, we told them last night that we were going to do that, we got to fourth and one, we were going for it in the red area so, we’ve got to do better there. And then after that, and I’ll look at the film and evaluate. Offensively, it was poor, lack of conversions on third downs and break downs, protection errors.”


3. Rivers is Rolling– Last year the Chargers sat most of their starters for the preseason finale.  Should that be the case, Philip Rivers will have thrown just three incompletions for the entire exhibition slate.  Number 17 was firing on all cylinders on Sunday, finishing 9-of-10 for 85 yards, one touchdown and a passer rating of 135.4. Rivers’ day ended with a touchdown strike to Antonio Gates, so he felt good personally  with his performance:

“I think had we not ended in a touchdown there I would have wanted to go a little longer, but finishing with a touchdown, Antonio and Mike McCoy looked at me and said I was done. I don’t think it mattered what my answer was, but finishing like that and getting a couple of series in a row, I felt good personally, not like I needed a little more action, and I feel good where we are.”.” 

4.  Corey is a “Cornerstone”–  When he plays the way he did on Sunday, it’s understandable why many on the Chargers refer to Corey Liuget as a cornerstone of the defense.  Number 94 was downright dominant each snap he was on the field.  In a little over one quarter of action, he recorded four tackles, two tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble, one pass defensed and a pair of QB hits.  Jarret Johnson is a savvy veteran who has seen his fair share of playmakers, and he too is impressed with what Liuget brings to the defense: 

When Corey is on, when he gets hot and makes plays early, when he gets going, he is as good as there is in the league…If he keeps playing at that level, people are going to recognize him. He is a big time talent, and as he continues to progress and get more mature, everyone is going to know his name.”

 

5.  Stepping Up Still Required– There will be 15 fewer players on the roster the next time the Chargers hit the field as the team needs to get down to 75 players by end of day Tuesday.  Those who remain will battle it out to earn a spot on the final 53-man roster.  Based on the way the team performed after the starters exited on Sunday, they know they will need to step it up come Thursday. McCoy made that clear in his postgame press conference:

“We’re always evaluating things. You want to win games.  That’s why we’re out here. We’re trying to find the best 53 players so we’ve got to evaluate everybody and we’re going to have tough decisions to make so, a lot of guys played a lot today. They’re going to play a lot in a short amount of time come Thursday night. They’ve got to take care of their bodies in a couple days and get back out there and some guys are working extremely hard fighting for a position on this football team.”

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