With the preseason in the rear-view mirror, the Bolts' preparations for Week 1 against Washington are well under way. Chargers offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi spoke to the media today to give an update on how his offense is shaping up.
"Yeah, I mean real happy with the first group," Lombardi said. "You know there's obviously some things that need to get better with the second and third groups. But, I think the guys are picking it up and really learning how to execute it the way we want to. So yeah, I'm pleased."
The Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen Connection
Within that "first group" lies one of the most sensational QB/receiver duos in the NFL. In just one season, Justin Herbert and Keenan Allen have paired together with ease and Lombardi explained just how much of a pro Allen is.
"I think Keenan would have a good relationship with any quarterback," Lombardi said. "He's such an easy receiver to throw to."
Luckily for Bolts fans and Herbert, Allen is on their team's roster. However, Lombardi says there is one tricky thing about No. 13.
"The hardest thing about throwing to Keenan is he gets in certain positions based on the leverage the defense is playing or the coverage where normally a mortal receiver you'd say, 'I'm not throwing to him I'm gonna get through my progression.' But he ends up getting open so often…it's a good problem to have. You know those guys really have a great connection, and I'm excited to see it once the season starts."
Most of us have heard the phrase love at first sight, but Lombardi put a football spin to the phrase in order to describe the connection between Herbert and Allen: Love at first throw.
"Some guys the first time you throw to them you get it…bet you ask any quarterback in the NFL the first time they threw a route to Keenan [Allen] they'd be like, 'Oh yeah, he's my guy.'"
That type of trust and connection is the perfect formula for a sophomore quarterback looking to improve on his Offensive Rookie of the Year campaign. Allen's elite skills provide a certain level of calmness when the going gets tough.
"He's a guy that you trust so much and so when in doubt you find him and throw him the football because you know exactly what he's gonna do the way he talks to the quarterback with body language. You know he's easy to anticipate where he's gonna be and it makes it easy to throw to."
Offensive Line Rotations
With Bryan Bulaga going into his 12th season, the right tackle has seen and played a lot of football in his day. This means he might get reps off during practice throughout the season, according to Lombardi.
"I think no different than a lot of veterans, they've got a lot of wear on their tires and so you are trying to save their workload for when they need it. Those guys end up having a lot of muscle memory for when it's important to practice but maybe they can get away with a few less reps than some of the new guys."
Lombardi detailed their options at swing tackle depth.
"[T] Storm [Norton] and [T] Trey [Pipkins III], those guys will battle it out. Trey's got reps as well. I think it's 100 percent to be determined, but both those guys can step in."
Depth in the Wide Receiver Room
Lombardi talked about the number of weapons on offense, one of those players being six-foot-eight tight end, Donald Parham. Lombardi says he isn't just a "tall receiver," he's progressing into something more heading into Week 1.
"I was very optimistic about him as a receiver based on the little bit I saw on film and I think he's stepped up and shown that he can do that more consistently. I've been impressed with his willingness and aggressiveness blocking which is important for a tight end, so I've been pleased with that aspect of his game."
With a surplus of weapons on offense, especially in the wide receiver room there's only so many targets a quarterback can have. Lombardi explained the thought process behind keeping Jalen Guyton on the roster over Tyron Johnson.
"There was just a little more flexibility with Jalen [Guyton] he can play a few more positions than T-Billy. It was a tough decision cause we felt highly about both guys but just kind of the consistency with Jalen and his flexibility."
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