The Chargers faced their first legitimate fourth failure in training camp on Monday and – surprise! — Brandon Staley decided to do it.
OK, so the situation came up in the last few seconds of a two-minute drill and kicking wasn’t really an option. But when it comes to Staley and fourth-down options, every example is remarkable.
Justin Herbert, running against the No. 2 defense, led the Chargers’ starting offense with four seconds left inside the five-yard line.
On the fourth and one, the Pro Bowl quarterback couldn’t get rid of the ball before whistles rang out that indicated defenseman Andrew Brown had fired Herbert.
The game marked a significant victory for the defense during the Chargers’ first session in Pads.
“I thought the way we practiced 11-on-11 was a sign of a good team,” Staley said afterwards.
When asked to explain that thought, he said, “Just the style of play. The speed. The tempo. The contact. Make sure you protect each other. You go wild, but you protect each other.”
Staley added that he liked that the Chargers’ pace didn’t slow down when the players were in full gear.
“I saw a good football team out there today,” he said.
During his rookie season as head coach, Staley was at times criticized for his fourth-down decisions. Though he has said every year can be different, Staley and the Chargers are expected to continue to be assertive in such situations.
“I think it’s a positive thing for our team because we want to be aggressive,” Staley said. “We want to have a fearless team that isn’t afraid to meet.”
Also Monday, Herbert ended a red-zone sequence by hitting Mike Williams for a touchdown from about six yards.
But he also missed an open Keenan Allen on a deep crossing route to open the No. 1 offensive two-minute drive.
There was a lot of talk at camp about Herbert and his progress during his sophomore year on that offense and his third year in the NFL. Veteran center Corey Linsley noted that he noticed a change in the young quarterback.
“It’s more his attitude…that kind of confidence that doesn’t need to be said much,” Linsley explained. “You can just see it in his eyes when you say, ‘This guy is in the zone.’ ”
Zion Johnson impressed
Rookie Zion Johnson performed well in one-on-one drills against the centre-backs. He was picked 17th overall in April to be the Chargers’ starting right guard.
Johnson had solid replays against Sebastian Joseph-Day and Morgan Fox, and also grounded Jerry Tillery.
Linsley praised Johnson’s even demeanor, adding he was “smart as hell”.
“He’s got a lot of raw talent,” Linsley said. “You can see that he has already achieved a lot. I look forward to playing alongside him.”
In the spring, the Chargers used the first of two sixth-round picks on another offensive lineman, Georgia’s Jamaree Salyer, where he played in multiple positions.
The Chargers had Salyer on guard and he was impressive. He stood in for starter Matt Feiler on the left during a few team practices over the weekend.
Staley spoke highly of both Johnson and Salyer on Monday.
“These two young guards have shown they have what it takes,” he said. “You put your head on your shoulders. You’re really strong inside, like Yes, really strong. And then they work on it like crazy.”
Salyer is a player who should have plenty of time preseason as the Chargers try to gauge his potential.
“He just has a lot of top football player stuff,” Staley said. “He has physicality, tenacity, discipline. He is calm. He has this versatility to play many different positions.”
High on punting
Veteran JK Scott had a strong day, booming several punts high and long and also placing one out of bounds inside the five-yard line.
The Chargers struggled with punt reporting a year ago as Ty Long was fickle and they were forced to hire several young players with limited experience on special teams.
“I think the slope [time] is one of his strengths,” Staley said of Scott. “He can really get it airborne, which will certainly help your cover system. He can also locate it in different places. He got off to a good start.”
Scott, a fifth-round pick by Green Bay in 2018, spent three seasons with the Packers averaging 44.6 yards per punt. He appeared in a game with Jacksonville last season.
The Chargers signed Scott as a free agent in March. He is the only suitor in the camp.
Linebacker Drue Tranquill missed his second straight practice session with a minor groin problem, Staley said. Tight end Donald Parham Jr. returned to practice after being restricted on Saturday.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/chargers/story/2022-08-01/coach-brandon-staley-good-football-team-chargers-practice-pads Chargers’ Brandon Staley sees ‘a good football team’ in pads