Here are five keys to the game heading into Sunday’s preseason match between the Los Angeles Chargers and New Orleans Saints:
1. Depth Must Rise – Head Coach Anthony Lynn is nothing if not direct, which is why he has been quite blunt that the second and third string players must elevate their games. While pleased with the performance of the starters, Lynn did not like what he saw from the team’s depth players. It’s one thing for the units to have one less than stellar game. To repeat the same mistakes and disappoint yet again would form a troublesome pattern the head coach explained is unacceptable. Thus, some of the best drama against the Saints likely will come once the starters head to the sideline.
2. Get Keenan Rolling – KA13 has had a standout week of practice. Now it’s time to see what he can do when the Bolts take the field at StubHub Center. The star wideout maintained how he isn’t concerned with stats during exhibition play, but rather is determined to stay healthy and remove any lingering rust after missing virtually all of the 2016 campaign. Nonetheless, establishing a rhythm between Philip Rivers and his number one target will go a long way toward cementing their chemistry heading into the season opener.
3. Nothing Deep – The Saints are known for a high-flying offense, eager to stretch defenses vertically down the field. The Chargers gave up too many chunk plays in the preseason opener, surrendering the most yards through the air in the NFL through one week. It’s understandable there will be hiccups along the way as the team adjusts to a new scheme on defense, but the team is eager to improve against New Orleans. While no one should get too high or too low based on preseason play, the Bolts knows they can make a statement against a high-powered passing attack led by Drew Brees.
4. Slay the Saints’ Three-Headed Monster – Even though most of the damage came against the second and third string, the Chargers struggled against the run, surrendering four touchdowns on the ground. A stout rushing defense has been a trademark of Gus Bradley over the years, so last week’s struggles were likely an aberration. Still, it won’t be any easier as the Bolts now face New Orleans’ three-headed monster of Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. With a future Hall of Famer, one of the NFL’s most productive backs a year ago and a highly touted rookie who is electric out of the backfield, the Chargers have the chance to face a litany of backs with multiple skillsets.
5. Protect the Rock – Turnovers doomed the Bolts in the preseason opener. Protecting the football was a point of emphasis all offseason, so Lynn was disappointed by the rate his team coughed it up. Those turnovers put the defense behind the eight-ball, so Lynn hammered home all week the importance of securing the rock. Now it’s time to put those lessons into action.