Here are five keys to the game heading into Saturday’s preseason match between the Los Angeles Chargers and Los Angeles Rams:
1. Ground and Pound – Head Coach Anthony Lynn stated he wants to see the Bolts come out and run the ball with authority. Even though the team hasn’t schemed or game planned for the first two preseason games, Lynn is disappointed in the rushing unit’s failure to establish a ground attack. Not only do the RBs need to do a better job of making guys miss, but blocking up front and at the skill position must improve as well. Lynn cited a lack of execution as the main reason his team ranks 30th in the NFL this preseason, averaging just 2.7 yards per carry. Watch for the Bolts to come out with an emphasis on pounding the rock.
2. Feeva Rising – The Chargers are taking a slow approach with Jason Verrett, making sure the Pro Bowl cornerback is at full health come Week 1 in Denver. Finally, the training wheels will come off as Verrett will see his first snaps in a game since September of 2016. Number 22 has flashed during training camp, looking like the same playmaker he was before undergoing ACL surgery. All eyes will be on the fourth-year corner to see how he looks once again under the lights.
3. TDs not FGs – The Chargers’ offense found pay dirt on the opening drive of the preseason, but hasn’t reached the end zone since. That first drive happened to be Rivers’ lone series to date, but it’s still no excuse for failing to put seven on the scoreboard. Lynn announced that Rivers will play most if not all of the first half, so it’s vital to see the Bolts return to their high-scoring ways. There’s no doubt the team will boast an explosive offense, but they want to see results in what is typically a dress-rehearsal game for the regular season.
4. Keep QBs Clean – One major reason the offense keeps stalling is an inability to keep the passer upright. Kellen Clemens and Cardale Jones were sacked eight times last week against the Saints, forcing the Bolts to punt each time it looked like they gained momentum. If the Chargers want to establish any type of momentum in what might be Rivers’ last time under center before the regular season, they need to shore up their pass protection.
5. Road Warriors – Even though the Bolts aren’t leaving L.A., it still marks the first road game of the Anthony Lynn era. There’s a specific type of mindset needed to go into hostile territory to get a win, and the Chargers will look to set the tone as a team who can go into any road stadium and bring home the victory.