Carson, CA-In the second preseason game of the season against the New Orleans Saints, the Los Angeles Chargers held back on some key starters getting burn time. The Saints, whom the Chargers engaged with in two joint practices, pretty much followed suit as running back Adrian Peterson, quarterback Drew Brees manned the sidelines. Philip Rivers did not on the field against the Saints.
But it had nothing to do with an injury. It was pretty much a coach’s decision, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said he had seen enough of Rivers to decide he didn’t need the reps.
“Philip practiced against that team a couple times in pads. He had two good practices and I felt like he didn’t need to play today,” Lynn said. “We got a lot of looks at him during the week.”
Rivers wasn’t the only one checking out of the playing table list. From the start of the game, this game was about coaches getting a more meaningful lookup at the backups. For quarterbacks Kellen Clemens and Cardale Jones, there’s much to improve on. Clenens and Jones, jockeying for the No. 2 quarterback position behind Rivers, still have their work cut out for them to get the Chargers’ second offensive unit clicking.
The Chargers offense, which put up 17 points against the Seattle Seahawks in the first preseason game, couldn’t get on the scoreboard in a 13-7 defeat to the Saints at StubHub Center on Sunday, Aug. 20. The Chargers lone score came by way of defensive back Dexter McCoy’s 99-yard interception for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.
Clemens looked more efficient than he did last week, going for 99 passing yards, while using his feet to get another 26 yards on the ground in the first half. Jones threw for only 61 yards. So far, the depth charts reads that Clemens is in the second spot. Jones, who was acquired in a trade just before training camp, is trying to get up to speed with the team’s offensive schemes.
“Kellen is our number two,” said Lynn. “Cardale is learning. He’s been here two and a half weeks. He’s getting better, but he’s not there yet.”
Preseason or not, scoring zero points could be cause for concern.
“That’s something we’re going to address as a coaching staff,” Lynn said. “We want to be more explosive and dynamic no matter what we’re running. The Saints, they didn’t show their stuff. We have to be better.”
One area Lynn would like to see the Chargers improve in is the run game. Clemens, not noted for being fleet of foot, led the team in rushing with his running totals. The Chargers rushed for just 66 yards as a team and only tallied 13 first downs.
Well, that’s a preseason game, but that couldn’t have gone any uglier in my opinion,” Lynn said. “I thought our defense played well other than the first play of the game, which could have made a difference because of the turnover they scored on later. Offensively we were flat for some reason. I know some of our guys didn’t play, but we have to run the football a lot better than that and we’re going to run the football a lot better than that. We gave up seven sacks. Your chance of scoring a touchdown off those sacks is seven percent. That killed us. The sacks are what killed us. It’s not just the offensive line. It’s running backs. It’s tight ends. It’s the whole group. We have to do a better job of coaching these guys and getting them ready to play. That’s all it is to it.”