Chargers Preseason Recap: Highs and Lows Against Rams

Six key takeaways from Brandon Staley's Chargers' first 2022 preseason game against the crosstown Rams and Sean McVay.

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Top Shots: Bolts Open Up Preseason Slate at SoFi Stadium

Last night marked the first preseason football game in SoFi Stadium and the Chargers came out swinging against the Rams. And let’s just say that some of those swings landed and some definitely did not, as the Rams ended up beating the Chargers 29 to 22. Here are some takeaways and highlights below.

First Drive Highlights

Chase Daniel was the quarterback for the first half and made a beautiful deep completion to Joe Reed, who sprinted to the end zone for the first touchdown of the game. Daniel struggled a little with his deep throws after this drive but at least started the Chargers in the right direction.

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Reed demonstrated his speed in that drive and had a few catches throughout the night. None were as impressive as that first touchdown, but he’s definitely trying to make his presence known as he competes for a wide receiver spot. 

Joshua Kelley was involved quite a bit during this first drive as well, helping the Chargers make some gains and get a couple of first downs. Kelley seems to have cemented his status as the Chargers’ second running back behind Austin Ekeler.

Chris Rumph II Is Making His Presence Known

Chris Rumph is not going to sit back quietly during these preseason games. He came off the edge during the Rams’ first drive of the game, sacking Bryce Perkins before he even had a chance to get the ball off. Rumph also had a similar shutdown on Jake Funk on the Rams’ second drive. Renaldo Hill remarked during day 8 of training camp on how well Rumph was doing and that you could tell he was working on his pass rush game, and we certainly saw that in those first couple of sacks. Rumph wasn’t perfect tonight as he did miss a tackle, but that first sack really sent a message. Hopefully, he can have a few more of these good showings and continue having a great camp performance to really stand out.

The Chargers Pass Defense Out Of Sorts

The Chargers had several pass interference calls tonight. And during the third quarter, one such call by Brandon Sebastian completely offset JT Woods’ interception in the end zone, giving the Rams a first down. They scored a few plays later. Soon after that, Deane Leonard broke up another pass to the end zone but also got a pass interference call. Luckily this was just a preseason game, but these are the kind of errors that can really stack up against you in the loaded AFC.

The Chargers have had some issues with penalties in the past, including in their last game with the Raiders, where according to Gavino Borquez of Chargers Wire, they had “ten penalties for 108 yards.” Some of these tonight were from rookies, which is understandable in their first big game, but there does need to be some cleanup before the regular season.

The Chargers defense in general struggled with coverage on the outside tonight. Leonard couldn’t seem to get a grip on Lance McCutcheon, who got two scores off Leonard. Once for a two-point conversion after Perkins had run it in for a touchdown. And the first score was particularly nasty as not only did McCutcheon make the catch while Leonard was in coverage, but Woods proceeded to run over to help with that protection and collided with Leonard, and as the two fell down, McCutcheon ran it in for an easy touchdown. It was a true “welcome to the league” moment for the rookies.

Brandon Staley during his press conference after the game remarked on how Leonard wasn’t beat, but that he was in phase twice and just needs to do more of what he does in practice and build confidence. Leonard has done a really good job for a late-round rookie keeping up with some of his targets during training camp. Josh Palmer and Jalen Guyton are pushing him in camp and he has reportedly handled himself well, even working with the first team defense at times. But he will need to bounce back next week.

Michael Bandy The Reliable

It seemed to be the battle of the wide receivers tonight between Joe Reed and Michael Bandy. Both had some impressive touchdowns during the game. Like Reed, Bandy showed off his speed, and during the second quarter quickly cut in from the outside to catch the ball before running it into the end zone. He had 73 receiving yards, just a little over Joe Reed at 61, and had seven receptions while Reed had four. After day seven of training camp, my colleagues at the Chargers Unleashed podcast thought that Bandy may not make the roster because of DeAndre Carter. Well, Bandy is definitely making a case to not be overlooked, as Staley said during his press conference how outstanding of a camp Bandy is having. I’m excited to see what he does during the next game to keep carving out his place.

Isaiah Spiller Looks Ready For Primetime

Isaiah Spiller was targeted quite a bit when Easton Stick was in during the second half, and there was evidence of Spiller’s toughness as he just kept making gain after gain. He had 34 rushing yards and whenever he got the ball, he gave it his all, and Staley even remarked during his press conference on Spiller’s good runs in traffic. Spiller has been really performing well at camp and has the grit and determination to make an impact on this team.

The Backup Quarterback Battle Knotted Up

If you just look at the statistics, there wasn’t a whole lot of separation between Stick and Daniel tonight. Easton Stick had more completions at 16 while Daniel had 11. Stick also had a slightly better completion percentage at 69.6% compared to Daniel’s at 64.7%. Daniel did have two passing touchdowns and zero interceptions, while Stick had one interception and a rushing touchdown. Both had some scrambling moments and some missed passes, and each also had trouble when the pocket just didn’t hold.

However, Stick seemed to show some serious growth as a processor in this game. He hasn’t had a ton of reps to prove his worth as a backup and has always been a little bit behind the curve but tonight was a very good step forward for him in that regard. Daniel is the veteran and has an intimate knowledge of the Chargers’ passing offense so he has always had a leg up on Stick in this competition, but if Stick continues to make strides he could push the elder statesman out of a job.

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Top Shots: Bolts Open Up Preseason Slate at SoFi Stadium

Top Shots: Bolts Open Up Preseason Slate at SoFi Stadium (Via Mike Nowak).