Friday, August 16, 2013

Set a Course for Panic!

Did everybody see that super cool space map that NASA put out yesterday of all the giant meteors flying around the galaxy just looking for a piece of sweet Earth pie? Here it is and it is some pretty sweet Doomsday nightmare fuel. But judging from the fan reaction to last night's Chargers game it doesn't even rate as all that disturbing. Well, let's just take a deep breath and remember our NFL mantra for this time of year, which is..."It's only preseason." Doesn't that feel better? Way better than our late season mantra over the last few years of..."Is it over yet?" Now, in the warming light of day, let's break this down and see if we can salvage some good from the rubble, or whether it's time to just fold up shop and finally submit to the sweet release of soccer, wear there's nothing to think about and everything is always wonderful because who the fuck really cares?

First Team Offense: Well, first off, the really good thing is that Ryan Mathews looks great so far, even if one of our local writers who shall remain named Kevin Acee thinks that Mathews needs to break more long TD runs in a quarter of action before we can really consider him a solid NFL rushing threat. His 5 yards per carry seems impressive, but it's totally not somehow. I don't know if I'm going to link Acee's articles anymore, because I hate that I might be sending him traffic. Anyway, Mathews looks solid. Only problem is, when Mathews hasn't been busy fumbling the ball, being injured or languishing in AJ's doghouse, he's always looked solid. No matter how good he looks we're all going be biting our nails every time he touches the ball. I swear at one time I thought his arm actually fell off last night. Another positive is that we looked solid in that hurry up for about a full minute. Then the wheels fell off. Let's talk about Rivers. I'm still not as down on Rivers as the rest of the world and it seems like paid writers everywhere already had their Rivers is awful Madlibs at the ready. That INT he threw, by all media accounts was another atrocious example of Rivers forcing bad throws into heavy coverage. Keenan Allen was awash in a sea of Bears' defenders to hear them all say it. The reality is that, while it wasn't technically PI, Allen got run over and the ball sailed into the arms of Chris Conte (worst name in football), who was behind the play and would have had no shot at the ball were Allen upright. The real issue that Rivers encountered is the same one he faced last year and that is a line that had real problems protecting him. Three sacks on twelve drop backs is not good, even if you want to argue that on at least one of those Rivers held on to the ball a lot longer than is safe with any offensive line. My God, it got so bad that Hacksaw was calling for Telesco's head this morning because Louis Vasquez got away! Settle down everybody! This line is still learning to play together. There are a number of new pieces and they're going to need a few real games to set their place and gel into a cohesive unit. And let's not forget that the Bears are eager to see how their offense will function without Brian Urlacher, so they weren't playing the regular kind of bare bones defense you typically see in the preseason. They were bringing it in preseason week two, and our starters-who had a single series of action in week one-were clearly not prepared for that.

First Team Defense: I think the best news here was that Jay Cutler was only able to get the ball to Brandon Marshall. Problem there is, it's not like you don't know they're going to that guy. Meanwhile, Matt Forte and Michael Bush-who should be a Charger, dammit!-were busy doing what I like to call "Pretty Much Whatever the Hell They Wanted." This defense is thin and it's only getting worse right now. At one point last night, after a Jay Cutler sack, Corey Liuget was wrything on the ground in apparent discomfort before the cut to commercial and I didn't say a thing about it because let's face it, haven't I jynxed this team enough? The T.E.R.R.I.B.L.E. ESPN crew never mentioned it either and I was seriously hoping that I imagined the whole thing, only to find out that Liuget did indeed get hurt on the play. Not sure how bad it is yet, but we really can't stand to lose too many more first string defensive players. I think it's safe to say Larry english might never come around (Seriously, I know that's hard for you all to hear.), and while I have moderately tall hopes for Manti Teo (Seriously, fuck punctuation in names. No more apostrophe for you Teo.), I hardly think he's going to carry the load himself. Donald Butler, you're cool. We okay. Overall, the defense, though, wasn't quite as terrible as it seemed. Yes, the Bears starters put up 14 and Forte rifled off a big gainer, but being hampered by 4 offensive turnovers in the first half will lead to some of those sorts of unintended consequences. I'd say the jury's still out on this one. Well, maybe the jury's mostly in, but there's still one guy in the bathroom and everybody is waiting and guess what? He's the jury foreman!

Depth Chart: This is so hard for me to say, but well done Chuck. You threw the ball well and outside of that initial snap fumble, you acquitted yourself big time after last week. The problem with that is now I'm going to have to hear from the locals that it's time to give you a shot, Chuck, and I think we both know how that would ultimately turn out. As I said last night, the script was flipped. Our back-ups were great, where our starters looked completely removed from the action. Especially on offense, where we ran and passed at will for much of the second half. The defense was passable and gave us an opportunity to win the game. The preseason game. Ah, who cares? Good on you, though, back-ups. Good on you.

Special Teams:

Oh dear Lord. This is gonna be a problem, isn't it? We can't cover kicks to save our lives. The company line is that we've been giving a lot of back-ups and rookies a shot to make the team and so the coverage is replete with inexperienced boobs. I have a hard time swallowing that, since most teams populate their coverage squads with back-ups and rookies anyway. If that were a real game, Devin Hester would have run back 8 TDs last night. And holy shit is Goodman a terrible return man! Did he get past the 16 even once last night? Best play Robert Meachem has ever made as a Charger was telling Goodman to sit his ass down in the end zone last night.

There it is. There's some good in there if you look for it, and there is unquestionably some bad. But let's not pile on just yet. Were this a Norv team we'd be screwed because you know he'd be trotting out the whole playbook already like he's probably already doing in Cleveland right now, and that regardless of the lack of success he'd be unable to make adjustments. McCoy and Whisenhunt and Pagano are not Norv and by all accounts they are guys who know how to make adjustments. And some of our most interesting players have barely seen the field yet, if at all. Don't tell me you're not excited to see what that shifty little bastard Woodhead will add to the offense. Game 3 is around the corner, and that's where we're going to get a long look at the starters. If you still feel the same way after game 3, I'll understand. As for me, I will continue to chant my mantra and thank my lucky stars that no matter what happens, Norv Turner is in Cleveland and that is pretty far away. Go Bolts!!!

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