Philip Rivers and his offense have the look of a special unit in 2011. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)
It's the preseason, where bugs are being worked out and defenses are as exotic as downtown Cleveland. I know the Seahawks were playing it safe, without a couple of their defensive starters in the game.
But let's get excited anyway.
What the Chargers 1st-team offense showed in their opening drive in their pre-season opener on Thursday night against Seattle was a whole lot of, "You've got a better chance stopping one of Hannibal's runaway War Elephants with a pocketknife than you do keeping us out of the end zone." I'm so jazzed I'm writing this in the 2nd quarter!
The drive went 89 yards in 10 plays and took 5:33 off the clock. As you'd expect, it was all Philip Rivers. Let's go ahead and start his MVP campaign right now. Rivers went 5-6, for 87 yards and a touchdown. Vincent Jackson caught a pair of those balls, one of them a beautiful 48 yard rainbow down the left sideline. You can't help but think, if Jackson had been around the entire 2010 season, the Chargers would have made the playoffs.
Anyway, Rivers also hit Kory Sperry on a drag route (that's where the receiver starts on one end of the line and he "drags" across the middle of the field) for 16 yards and a 1st down. Once they got inside the Red Zone (the opponents' 20 yard line) it was all running backs. But not running the ball.
Rivers hit Ryan Mathews out of the backfield for nine yards to get inside the 10. Two plays later Rivers connected with Mike Tolbert and we learned what Mike did during the Lockout. He worked on his vertical leap. The 243-pounder jumped and dove over a would-be Seahawks tackler, into the end zone for a touchdown. It was a heck of an exclamation point to a heck of an opening drive from a heck of an offense that didn't even have Pro Bowl tight end Antonio Gates or Pro Bowl left tackle Marcus McNeill.
Had those two guys (especially McNeill) been there, the running game would have probably even been good. The Chargers ran four times for just two yards, Tolbert and Mathews both getting a pair of carries. So if you want to pick nits that would be the place to find them. However, as we learned last year, Rivers doesn't need a dominant running game to put points on the board. Sure, it helps a whole lot, but when you have a QB like this it's a luxury, not a necessity.
After that drive the starters left and we had to check our rosters on every other play to see who was in the game. Still, the near-sellout crowd at Qualcomm Stadium got a glimpse of what this offense can do this season.
Buckle up, it's gong to be a fun and high-scoring ride.