On Thursday, the San Diego Chargers will be playing their first preseason game of the 2013 season against the Seattle Seahawks. As it is only the preseason, games are not ultra competitive and the end result doesn’t ultimately matter. That being said, the preseason games are still very important for any football team. They often determine the winners of depth chart battles and give the coaching staff an idea of the team’s weaknesses. Here are the key things to watch for in Thursday’s game.
New Playing Styles
With new head coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Wisenhunt, the Bolts will play an entirely new offense than the one run last year. It will probably be faster passed and much more varied in the types of plays and formations on the field. Thursday will be the first time for fans to see what will be in store for the team this season. Hopefully, San Diego is able to put up some points against Seattle and show the NFL that they are coming to play this year. Even if they don’t, it doesn’t mean that the team is doomed for failure. As the offense is all new, the players need time to adjust to it. Playing against the incredibly tough Seahawks’ defense isn’t exactly the way you would want to break in a new concept.
While there is no new defensive coordinator in San Diego, new players to the roster have caused the Bolts to develop a slightly different approach to the defense this year. Since Dwight Freeney has historically succeeded in a 4-3 defense as opposed to the 3-4, the Chargers have been developing defensive play calls to use both formations. This new playing style will also be on display in Qualcomm for the first time this Thursday. If it is successful, it may become a permanent part of the defensive strategy.
Key Position Battles
This week’s game will be a good opportunity for San Diego to develop some idea about who will be starting in some of the less clear spots. The two positions to watch battle this week will be at left tackle and wide receiver. Right now King Dunlap is looking at the starting spot on the depth chart, but Max Starks is right behind him. The starting right end for the Seahawks is Cliff Avril. Avril is one of the better defensive ends in the league and should be a handful for whoever is on the line. If Dunlap does well, he may be able to secure his starting spot, if he doesn’t, Starks will get the chance to win it away.
The wide receiver battle is much more complicated as there are multiple battles for different spots. Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander are both looking for the number one spot on the chart. Floyd is currently listed as the favorite and Alexander has just come away with an injury so it is likely that after this week Floyd will still be the front-runner. While it looks as if Vincent Brown will have the third spot, the remaining ones are up for grabs. Rookie Keenan Allen will be sure to try and prove he has what it takes, but he will not be the only one. Robert Meacham and Eddie Royal are overpaid players who will be looking to show critics that they are truly talented. Along with them come Mike Willie, Richard Goodman, Dan DePalma, Deon Butler, and Luke Tasker. While none of these five players are considered good wide receivers, they all have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Look for big plays from the San Diego wide outs.
This Thursday will be the first time fans really get to see the Charger rookies play at the NFL level. D.J. Fluker and Manti Te’o will be the only starters and are expected to help the team immediately. It will be exciting to see how their roles develop even in a preseason matchup. Against a very good Seahawk defensive line, Fluker will be tested immediately. It will be hard to judge his performance by looking at his stats, but one way to see how he plays is to watch how the Chargers run to the right side as well as right side’s pass protection. On the defensive side of things, Te’o will definitely have the opportunity to show his linebacker ability. This task however, will not be easy. His main job will be to run down Marshawn Lynch, one of the toughest running backs in the league. Lynch isn’t the most elusive back, but Te’o will have to bring his A-game because Lynch will break any weak tackle attempts Te’o sends his way.