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Five Lessons from the Cowboys Game

Posted Aug 8, 2014

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

Here are five lessons we learned from Thursday’s 27-7 win over the Dallas Cowboys. 

1. Making a Name for Themselves – Every preseason there are players who introduce themselves to the football world.  Thursday night was no different for the Chargers as a number of youngsters stated their case to make the 53-man roster.  In addition to Tevin Reese who had an explosive third-down conversion on the team’s first scoring drive, Head Coach Mike McCoy singled out Branden Oliver and Dontrelle Inman’s performances.  Oliver made a name for himself with seven carries for 64 yards (9.1 yards per carry) and a touchdown.  Inman led all receiverswith three catches for 107 yards and a touchdown.

“They’re two new players in our system that from the first day they got here, Dontrelle especially, you look out there and he and Eddie (Royal) are out there running the hill.  They’ve got the jugs machine, the sprinklers coming towards them and they just move it out of their way.  So all of his hard work paid off.  Branden was a player who caught our eye and the personnel department did a great job targeting him.  And from the first day, you could see that this player was going to have the opportunity to do some special things and he’s worked extremely hard.  He’s made his fair share of mistakes through camp, but he just kept on lifting and listening to what (Running Backs Coach) Ollie (Wilson) kept preaching.  And he made the most of his opportunities.”

 

2. Improve Red Zone Efficiency – The Chargers’ dynamic offense was on display, moving the ball at ease down the field.  Unfortunately, those drives didn’t end with seven points nearly enough times, converting at only a 50% clip.  The good news was Oliver and Kerwynn Williams bullying their way into the end zone.  Unfortunately, Ryan Mathews, who fumbled only twice in 2013, negated a 90-yard drive by fumbling as he leaped into the end zone on the team’s initial series. Later at the end of the first half, the team had to settle for a field goal after another strong drive due to a missed block.  McCoy emphasized that is one area the team needs to improve upon:

“Unfortunately Ryan fumbled the one, and then at the end (of the first half) an offensive lineman got beat up front otherwise we have a good play with Kellen (Clemens)on the third down there.  Too many minus plays down there though. That’s unacceptable and something that’s been a major emphasis.  We’ve got to do a better job coaching and executing what we’re doing down there.”

 

3. Shore Up Tackling– Defensive Coordinator John Pagano’s unit only allowed seven points, but there were still a number of areas they want to clean up.  Perhaps chief among that is tackling.  Heading into the game Pagano stressed the fundamentals of tackling, and that lacked at certain times.  Still, the unit buckled down when it needed to and did a great job not breaking.  That was especially true of the first team defense when Jerry Attaochu and Melvin Ingram brought pressure on consecutive plays to force a punt after Dallas crossed midfield.  As Eric Weddle noted, it was a strong start for the defense but they need to improve tackling:

“The first series with the ones went well.  We had some adversity and we got out of it without any points.  We’ve got to sure up some of our tackling on the outside, but guys were focused.  You always want to come away with the win.  We finished the game and played all four quarters….I mean, we gave up seven points, but nothing really over the top.  Just a little tackling here and there, but really no blown coverages.”

 

4. Quarterback Trio ImpressesPhilip Rivers, Clemens and Brad Sorensen were mighty impressive, combining to go 12-of-14 for 243 yards and a touchdown.  In fact, they didn’t have an incompletion until the fourth quarter.  Rivers was 4-for-4 for 61 yards and a 118.8 passer rating, while Clemens posted a perfect 158.3 passer rating by going 5-for-5 for 134 yards and a 70-yard touchdown strike.  Meanwhile, Sorensen was an efficient 5-for-7 for 48 yards, and McCoy was impressed by the trio:

“I think they did a nice job of taking what the defense gave them.  And that’s one thing that we’ve talked about, is that when you get in games, just don’t get sick of completions.  It doesn’t really matter how big the gain is.  There are certain situations where you want to stay down and ahead on distance and try to live in third-and-short or third-and-medium if you can…They did a nice job.  They worked hard also.  (Quarterbacks Coach) Nick (Sirianni) has done a nice job with them and they did a nice job with the progressions today.  It all starts up front with the offensive line.  When you have protection, you have a chance.”

 

5. A Lot of Good to Build On – There was plenty to be excited about based on the team’s performance, especially since it was their first true game of 2014.  However, the head coach reiterated that while it was a nice start, the team has a long way to go and needs to improve in a number of areas:

“Not a bad start.  It was a solid effort by the entire football team.  A lot of good effort.  We talked about finishing certain plays and that’s something that you can’t really practice all the time without full pads on.  So one thing we emphasized is finishing.  But there are a lot of things we need to correct also.  As we look at the film in the first preseason game, obviously we’ll be looking at a lot of missed tackles.  We’ve got to finish with the ball in the end zone offensively.  But there are a lot of good things.”

 

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