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The Setup
BA says he doesn't plan to play his starters, and that #3QB, Logan Thomas will get 4 quarters worth of work. (Generating 4 quarters worth of game tape figures to be invaluable as a teaching tool). Plus - we'll get to see how well the Cardinal rookie will settle in during the game with more and more snaps under his belt. Aside from that - Game #4 is all about position battles that will take the total roster from 75 to 53 players
(plus 10 on the practice squad).

The Lede
Thomas fails to impress in 12 - 9 Cardinal loss to Chargers.


The Bottom Line:
It was preseason. None of our starters played. Coach Arians wanted to keep things "vanilla" since we play San Diego "for-real" a week from Monday. So what we got was the chance to watch a bunch of promising youngsters battle for roster positions in a game characterized by zero-zilch-zowie touchdowns. Since the game was announced by the Chargers' home crew, we got little in the way of information about Cardinal players (i.e. who made the tackle, who made the catch, who blew the tackle etc.) and my I-Pad screen was too small to make out jersey numbers anyway. So the real bottom-line coming out of this game will no doubt be found in the upcoming moves to get the roster total down to 53 (plus 10 practice squadders). I only got to watch the first half, so my impressions will be limited to what I saw on my I-Pad and what I could gather from NFL.com's play-by-play log.

Best I can give you from a "which players flashed" standpoint is that (a) Logan Thomas is "All Pro from the neck down"; (b) our backup offensive line failed to open many decent-sized holes or give Thomas very much time to find open receivers; (c) our 2nd-string run-defense (at least during the first 20 minutes of the game) was stellar, (d) our secondary was shredded in the pass game, (e) Bucannon was making plays all over the field, (f) Carson (the undrafted rookie from Penn State) somehow wound up with 10 tackles and (g) we continue to allow our opponents to convert too many 3rd downs. And, oh yeah, (h) Catanzaro looked solid in the 1H (although his kickoffs could be a bit longer). And, oh oh yeah, (i) Zastudil had a couple of shanked punts to go with a couple exceeding 50 yards.

Game Recap

1st Quarter
  • Powell returned the KO to the Card 35. After completing his first two passes to Nikklas, Thomas couldn't get much going and 4 plays later, we stalled at the SD 24, and Catanzaro was good from 42. Cards 3 - Chargers 0.

  • KO fielded at goal line and returned to the SD 25. Cards gave up completions for +21 yards and +27 yards but a penalty derailed SD's 9-play driveat the Cardinal 17 and Novak was good from 35. Cards 3 - Chargers 3.

  • Powell returned the KO to the Card 14 and (helped by a sack for minus-12 yards near our goal line) were held to 3 and out. We then exchanged one 3 & out apiece with the Chargers and the quarter ended with SD 3rd & 8 at the Cardinal 21. Zastudil looked shaky, punting for 40 and 28 yards. First Quarter Score: Cards 3 - Chargers 3.

2nd Quarter
  • On the second play of the quarter, Novak's FG attempt was good from 39. Chargers 6 - Cards 3.

  • Cards once again went 3 & out. Zastudil redeemed himself with a 55-yard punt with a penalty pushing SD back to their 8. But Clemens shredded the Cards for +0, +6, +22, +13, +5, +9 and +8 before the drive stalled on the Cardinal 37 and Novak boomed one home from 55-yards out. Chargers 9 - Cards 3.

  • A personal foul call on the KO gave the Cards good field position and Baumann (in for Parmele) looked pretty good on 2 carries, but on the 3rd play of the series, Thomas got sacked for minus-12 and coughed up the ball (again!). SD took over at the Cardinal 47 (& we turned off the I-Pad and went to bed). An aborted play and a couple of penalties caused SD to punt from their own 43. A holding call on K Martin pinned us back at our own 7 with 4:40 till halftime. We picked up a first down on a face-mask penalty but shot ourselves in the foot with a holding call on Estes and punted from our own 20. (Zastudil only managed to punt for 37 yards this time).

  • Chargers took over at their own 33 with 2:10 till the half.Clemens managed to run off 11 plays to get to the Cardinal 2 (with 0:02 left on the clock). But his pass to Inman was picked off by Legree (who tried to emulate James Harrison by carrying the ball 77 yards to the Charger 20. Catanzaro was good from 38. Halftime Score: Chargers 9 - Cards 6.

3rd Quarter
  • Catanzaro's KO only reached the SD 21 (where it was returned for zero yards and resulted in a fumble - forced by Golden and recovered by Parmele). We wound up 4th & 1 at the SD 12, but a false start flag on Nikklas forced us to settle for a 35-yard FG to tie the game. Chargers 9 - Cards 9.

  • TB on the KO. We held SD to 3 & out. Punt was fair caught at the Cardinal 30 and (due to the third sack of Thomas - this one for minus-8) we were held to 3 & out. Zastudil's punt was for 50-yards. Reese returned it 18 yards to the SD 44. Sorenson led the Chargers on an 11 play drive which stalled at the 19 and resultedin the winning 37-yard SD field goal by Novak. Chargers 12 - Cards 9.

  • Powell fielded the KO at the goal line and returned it 32 yards. On the first play from scrimmage, Nikklas was flagged for a personal foul and the Cards wound up gpong 3 & out. SD fair caught Zastudil's (43 yard) punt at the SD 24 and Sorenson completed a 4-yarder to wind up the quarter. Third Quarter Score: Chargers 12 - Cards 9.

4th Quarter
  • A sack (for minus-6) by Tracy helped stall the SD drive at the Cardinal 39. Punt went into the end zone. A 14-yard completion to Powell was the highlight of a lackluster drive which ended with a (58-yard) Zastudil punt from our own 42. Ball rolled into the end zone. We held SD to 3 & out. Powell returned the punt 4 yards to the Cardinal 42 where we once again went 3 & out. Zastudil punted 43 yards to the SD 25 where a roughness penalty on SD moved them back to their own 13. After Oliver ran 23-yards up the middle, they had to punt 4 plays later from their own 36. Fair caught on the Cardinal 23. On the 3rd play from scrimmage, Thomas's deep pass (for Buckner) waspicked off by SD and returned to the Cardinal 17 where SD (mercifully) ran out the play clock. Fourth Quarter Score: Chargers 12 - Cards 9

Game Stats

  • Passing Efficiency. Thomas was 9 for 21 and a paltry 73 yards. He was sacked 3 times, fumbled once and threw one interception.

  • Run Game: Cards ran the ball 19 times. Bauman carried 7 times for 20 yards. Parmale5 times for 18.

  • Receiving: Golden led the team with 4 catches (his longest for 6 yards) and Nikklas caught those 2 early ones (for 32 yards, the longest being for 23).
  • Defense: They ran for 167 net yards and 180 net passing yards. They completed 17 of 32 passing attempts but scored zero TD's.

  • Run/Pass Ratio: 19 runs/24 passes.

  • Sacks: Thomas was sacked 3 times. We sacked the SD passer one time (Tracy)

  • Leading Tacklers: Carson led the Cards with 10. Whitley and Bucannon had 7. 4 other guys (Stinson Tracy, T Williams and Gaston) had 6.

  • Field Goals: Catanzaro kicked 3; Novak kicked 4.

  • Turnover Ratio: +0. We lost one fumble and gave up one pick. We recovered one fumble and we had that one interception by Legree.

  • Penalties: 5 for 43 yards (SD was flagged 11 times for 114).

  • 3rd Down Efficiency: 1 for 12 (8%). By contrast, SD was 5 for 18 (27%)

  • Time of Possession: Us - 21.44/Them - 38:16

Bright Spots

  • It was our raw 3rd-string QB vs. Clemens and Sorensen

  • Harold Goodwin called the offensive plays (instead of BA) in order not to tip off tendencies to SD (whom we play "for real" a week from Monday).

  • Bucannon was making his presence felt all over the field.

  • Run defense was outstanding.

  • Carson had a surprising 10 tackles.

  • Kelly did OK (given the short amount of time he's been here). (Sapaoga was nicked and didn't play).

The Dark Side

  • Logan Thomas looked long on potential but at the "baby-phase" of execution.

  • Too many big hits on Thomas

  • Run game in 1st half resulted in few if any holes opened up.

  • A few injuries (which, according to BA, will - combined with a few standout performances both good and bad - should make his cutdown decisions much easier). Taylor and Whitley may have fractures. Nate {Potter hurt his shoulder.

  • Meh performances by Cooper (who gave up a sack) and Minter.

  • We allowed them to convert too many 3rd downs (not horrible but not good)

Last Word:
We learned that Thomas is going to need a lot of work (and IMHO - at least right now - would not be a capable #3 backup should both Palmer and Stanton go down). We'll just have to wait and see about the roster battle. My guess is that each decision will be a unique one and consider such factors as pure talent, dollar-value, position-need, position fit and potential. The only thing I'd be willing to go out on a limb about is that there will be surprises - a veteran or two we weren't expected to keep (Sapaoga &/or Kelly?) , an untested rookie who made an unexpected impression on the coaches (Carson?). The signing of a high-profile FA (J Harrison?) The return of Max Starks? Stay close to your I-Pads and smart-phones.
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Copyright 1996 Gollin & Associates. Last modified: 11/26/2012