Much like the final score lied about what actually took place during the 60 minutes of game time in the first preseason game, the San Diego Chargers experienced a similar result in their second tilt of the year. This time, however, the result masked just how poorly the Bolts’ starters executed even though the team lost the game by a 33-28 margin to the Chicago Bears.
Last week the first-stringers for San Diego were extremely successful in their outing actually winning despite the final margin saying the contrary. This time around was a very similar result in the way that the score was not at all indicative of how the game played out, only in quite the opposite manner.
A lot of the personnel has changed and the coaching staff is certainly different, but the calamity of errors remains for the Bolts. Four first half turnovers were difficult to watch for Charger fans as quarterback Philip Rivers was responsible for two of the giveaways. One of his mistakes came from the familiar feeling of being sacked when Chicago’s Shea McClellin knocked the ball loose on his takedown of Rivers, and the other miscue came on an interception.
Still, the San Diego signal caller remains unfazed as the team marches on toward the regular season. Rivers told Andrew Seligman of the Associated Press:
“I think that can be over analyzed. They are what they are, but I don’t see it as a step back. I have seen some bad play and non-rhythmic offenses in the preseason, then they have great years, and I have seen some great drives in the preseason and they all go for nothing in the regular season.”
While I can certainly sign off on the notion that the preseason is meaningless, it doesn’t erase the fact that is seems to be nothing more than a continuation of last season for the Bolts. The offensive line issues are still very much in focus as Max Starks was to blame for the sack fumble and rookie D.J. Fluker was beaten for another takedown.
What did stand out, however, is that insisting on keeping Fluker at guard is a complete mystery to me. Two guards were actually selected higher than Fluker in this past April’s draft, and at 6-foot-5, 339 pounds that where the big man from Alabama seems to fit best. It’s really puzzling as to why the Bolts remain steadfast on keeping Fluker at tackle when he would be a dream at guard with his powerful run blocking and his ability to sustain blocks down field on linebackers and defensive backs. It’s fairly obvious that this team must select tackle after tackle in the 2014 NFL Draft in an attempt to fix the sieve that is their offensive front.
Mike McCoy’s crew certainly didn’t do themselves any favors with their performance on Thursday night, but the Bolts still have plenty of growth to undergo prior to the start of the regular season. If these issues of mental mistakes and offensive line gaffes continue, 2013 is going to look an awful lot like 2012 on the field.