After 6 long months, Chargers football is back.
The Bolts took on their in-city rival, the Los Angeles Rams in the first preseason game of the year.
It was announced the Chargers' starters were not playing so the backups were going to be on display.
The Chargers got the ball first and the offense looked good quick, going 77 yards in 9 plays, finishing the drive with a 41-yard touchdown pass from Chase Daniels to Joe Reed.
The defense came out with a lot of energy and forced the Rams to punt on both of their first 2 drives. Unfortunately, the Chargers offense were unable to take advantage and could not get anything going on any of their next 3 drives.
The Chargers’ new punter J.K. Scott was really good: his punts had good hangtime and good location, which helped defenders get down the field and force fair catches.
One particular punt hung in the air so long that Chargers gunner Deane Leonard met the returner before the ball did. The resultant hit drew a flag for kick-catch interference and placed the Rams in Chargers territory for the first time in the 2nd half.
The Rams proceeded to gain 47 yards on 13 plays, with A.J. Rose scoring from 1 yard out to tie the game at 7-7. The Rams' offense took advantage of critical missed tackles which helped keep the Rams' drive alive despite numerous opportunities for the Chargers to send them off.
The Rams offense got the ball back after a Chargers 3-and-out and scored on a 60 yard pass from Perkins to Lance McCutcheon. Deane Leonard had great coverage on the play, but did not turn his head around and the pass somehow found its mark. McCutcheon then broke tackles from Leonard and J.T. Woods (who took out his own man in the attempt) before getting free to the end zone.
The Chargers next drive would be the debut of 4th-round pick RB Isaiah Spiller who showed great foot work, change of direction, and ability to read his blocks on the drive. The Chargers capped a 10-play, 72-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown pass to Michael Bandy, tying the game at halftime 14-14.
The Rams got the ball to start the 2nd-half with Bryce Perkins remaining in at quarterback. They converted multiple 3rd downs on the drive, thanks in part to the Chargers' 4 penalties, 2 of which were defensive pass interference: Brandon Sebastian got beat by McCutcheon but got ahold of his jersey, drawing a DPI which negated J.T. Woods ball hawk interception on the play.
Three plays later, Deane Leonard drew another DPI call on a 2nd and goal play from the 7. Leonard played the receiver without turning his head, and the penalty set the Rams up with a1st and Goal. The next play, Perkins scored on a QB keeper scored and converted a 2 point try to McCutcheon, capping 10-play, 75-yard drive that took 6:43 off the clock.
Easton Stick came in at quarterback for the Chargers and led the Bolts on an 18-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that took 10:15 off the clock and ended with just over 13 minutes left to play in the game. On the drive, the Bolts managed to convert Three 3rd downs as well as a 4th down, scoring on a 3-yard run by Easton Stick. Stick successfully TE and former Oregon Duck Hunter Kampmoyer to get the following 2 point conversion.
Tied 22-22, the Rams' ensuing drive was once again kept alive by Chargers penalties: another pass interference was called by a Chargers defender failing to turn his head, this time the offender was Tyreek Maddox-Williams.
The Rams ended the drive with another touchdown catch by McCutcheon, who had an effective day with 5 receptions for 87 yards, 2 touchdowns and a 2 point conversion.
The Rams led 29-22 with 6:11 left to play in the 4th. Easton Stick just overthrew WR Michael Bandy, causing the Chargers to go 3-and-out on their next drive. Bandy was wide open on the play and would have gotten major yards had the throw been true.
Needing a stop on 3rd and 6 to keep a chance of winning alive, the Chargers were unable to bring a scrambling Perkins down on multiple near-tackles. The Rams quarterback was ultimately halted by a big hit from Skyler Thomas, and the Rams punted.
Maurice Ffrench muffed the ensuing punt but managed to recover it. An illegal block penalty by Leddie Brown on the play caused the Chargers' drive to start at their own 16 with only 2:45 left to play.
Easton Stick responded to the moment by leading an efficient drive down to the Rams 20. With the Chargers in scoring range, Stick threw a pass to Bandy, who to this point had a great day with 7 receptions, 73 yards, and a touchdown. Bandy was unable to bring the low pass in and it feel into the hands of Rams' defender Dan Isom for the only turnover of the game.
The Chargers fell short in their 1st preseason contest, a game where wins don't really matter.
Some things that did matter were:
Missed tackles by a lot of backup players.
Chris Rumph looked very well improved in this game compared to last year.
Pass interference calls on defenders failing to look for the ball was a problem. One player whos performance was particularly affected by this was Deane Leonard, who otherwise showed potential. Leonard was always "on his man," but an inability to turn his head on time led to multiple pass interference calls and a 60-yard touchdown. Leonard shows a high ceiling and will only get better.
Isaiah Spiller looked like he has much to contribute. He showed great footwork, change of direction, and ability to read blocks.
Michael Davis played well in the slot, but playing against Rams back-ups it is hard to read into.
J.K. Scott looked really good punting
Special Teams looks focused and cohesive