San Diego-Are you ready for some football? The San Diego Chargers look like they are. The Green Bay Packers, the Chargers opponent in the teams’ preseason game at Qualcomm Stadium, didn’t look ready at all, at least in the first quarter.
The Chargers defense had a lot to do with that, forcing enough turnovers to make the Packers think they were engaged in a game of hide-and-seek with the football. The Chargers defensive unit seems to have a new attitude this season: run fast, swarm to the football with electric speed and cause havoc. Maybe take the ball away fit the theme of the opening period of the first game of the NFL season a lot better.
One thing is for sure is that the Chargers’ defense looked as stealth as it could possibly be in forcing the Packers into three turnovers, while making quarterback Aaron Rogers and his high-powered offense sputter.
“It was very apparent to me that defensively we’re a lot more athletic,” Chargers coach Norv Turner said. “We’re faster and quicker. We have more guys that can make plays. We’re more physical.”
There have been some question marks coming into this season about the Chargers defense. But the Bolts answered some of those doubts with a smack around tone of Green Bay’s offense in that first quarter that left the Packers searching for cold tundra.
There would be no Lambeau Leap. Sure, the Packers scored a token touchdown at the end of the first half, but Green Bay’s offense in totality resembled a bit of the wooden character “Woody” in “Toy Story,” a little quirky, a little out of sync and wounded up on the short end of a 21-13 defeat to the Chargers.
Well, a lot of out of sync thanks to the pressure that the Chargers put on Green Bay.
In a game in which regular starters got limited playing time that couldn’t be said about Philip Rivers. Rivers played just two series in the game, completing three out of five passes, including a 23-yard touchdown strike to Antonio Gates to give the Chargers a 7-0 lead in the first quarter.
The Chargers turned Green Bay’s potent offense into a sputtering machine, holding the Packer to just three-of eight in third down efficiency in the first half. Chargers linebacker Shaun Phillips sounded happy with the way the defense played in the opener.
“I have to go out and look at the film,” Phillips said. “But the guys on the side…they say that we were out there flying around. One of the things we’re focused on is making sure everyone is getting to the ball….something always good happens when you get to the ball. That’s one of things we’re trying to preach.”
The Chargers always seemed to be around the ball when Rogers had it in hands, pressuring the NFL’s MVP into a 2-of-8, 16 yards passing performance. Rogers wasn’t fazed about his subpar outing.
“It’s preseason,” Rogers said, “Stuff happens. We didn’t play well as we want to, but it is preseason. We are missing some guys. We screwed some plays up and turned the ball over. It happens. We will watch some film.”
Rogers’s backup, Graham Harrell, who completed 15-of-27 passes for 135 yards and a touchdown, also didn’t put too much stock into the team’s performance except to say they can improve.
“It’s preseason football,” said Harrell. “There were some good things and some bad things. We need to get more consistent as a second unit. It was the first time. We are trying to get better as a unit.”
The Chargers backups, starting with rookie quarterback Jarrett Lee, are also trying to get better. Lee, the team’s third-string quarterback played as if he was the best player on the field, completing 15 of his 26 passes for 235 yards and one score.
Rivers was very impressed with the way Lee handled himself in his first NFL game.
“I thought he did good,” Rivers said. “It’s his first game in the NFL and he played three quarters plus, and we won the game. That’s the objective as the quarterback; to help your team win, and he did that. He made a great throw on the touchdown and a couple of other great throws on some third down conversions that were huge. Like any first time, I know he had the headsets and the plays just coming at him, and its different. But I thought he handled it well, and again the objective is to win.”