Sunday, 19 August 2012

NFL Pre-Season Week 2: Chargers 28, Cowboys 20

So let me start by offering the disclaimer that it's hard to properly watch, let alone subsequently analyze, a pre-season game when you're watching it on a poor quality stream of dubious legality.  Especially if you're getting the Dallas feed and all the announcers want to talk about is Jerry Jones, and Tony Romo's wedding.  So I'll have to restrict myself to general impressions.  Which are not good.

The most worrisome aspect of this trivial win is that the offense isn't in synch.  Sure, the scrubs led by 'Football Jesus' Charlie Whitehurst were good for 28 points in the second half, but that's academic.  The guys who will actually be on the field were stumbling and bumbling during their initial series.  Philip Rivers actually had a decent night in terms of completions, he hit on 13 of 15, but the two he didn't complete fell into Dallas hands.  One wasn't really his fault, Vincent Brown bobbled it into Brandon Carr's hands, but it's troubling that his turnover penchant from last season continues this pre-season.  And that pass was off the mark, behind Vincent, when we think about it.  The offense as a whole hasn't really impressed, and some may say that it's early yet and they have time, but a veteran team with few newcomers should be better than it has shown so far.

The offensive line must be giving Norv Turner flop sweats.  Left Tackle Jared Gaither was the subject of an economical but telling story by Michael Ghelkin of the Union-Tribune, and a more thorough calling out by Kevin Acee later in the week.  He's a vet and a pro with tremendous physical gifts, and he can probably step back in after his back spasms are well and truly healed and pick things right up, but it's of concern that he's living down to his reputation as a moody and inconsistent football player who is often injured and takes a long time to return to action.  It's appropriate to question whether he really likes football, like Kris Dielman or Nick Hardwick do, or whether he just finds that it's a good way to make great paycheques.  If only it didn't involve all that effort and sweating and sacrifice.

Melvin Ingram again had an immediate impact when he was on the field.  The Chargers had no pass rush, then he got subbed in, and magically the Cowboy quarterback was under duress.  Good to see, or rather read that Kendall Reyes again made things happen too, although I missed it, maybe the Cowboys announcers had broken away to a panda bear christening at the Fort Worth zoo or the winning numbers to the 10 Free Car-wash lottery grand prize offered by Dic's Nachos'n'Things, in Irvine right off the 27 interchange.

Vincent Brown's injury is a major buzzkill.  Nobody can say that we won't miss Vincent Jackson, he was a touchdown waiting to happen on every snap.  The party line is that we don't have a specimen like him anymore, but we'll make do with a deeper rotation of WR's, and Vincent Brown was going to be an integral part of that.  His touchdown catch was an impressive play, that he didn't drop the ball as his ankle snapped is a testament to the kid's concentration.  And no, idiotic poster on that random message board, he is not the second coming of Buster Davis.  For starters, we didn't burn a first-rounder on him.  Second, a broken leg isn't a Gaitheresque injury, it shows up on X-rays.  In his case, you have to go in with hardware and fix the damn thing.  So let's give the kid a break.

Kevin Acee thinks the injury will mean that the Chargers have to carry one more WR than planned, at the expense he thinks of a LB or maybe even a safety.  I doubt it will be the latter, we wouldn't go into the season with just four, but he's obviously more plugged in than I am.  Let's hope that Vincent can be snapped back together pretty easily by the orthopeds, and that he does miss only half the season.  Having one of the 53 players on the sidelines not contributing for half the season, then coming in during the second half and limping back up to speed isn't ideal.  We saw that last season when we carried Luis Castillo most of the year and then put him on IR when we couldn't afford his roster spot any more.

So, a win that posed more questions than it answered.   And I will add my voice to the chorus: "Jared, you got your $8M, now get your butt out on the field and protect our QB.  Now."

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