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Chargers struggling so far in preseason

The SportsXchange

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- After two preseason games, it appears the San Diego Chargers need to go back to the drawing board -- literally.

They need to formulate a protection plan.

That's not to say there have not been glimmers of sunshine during this San Diego summer, such as running back Ryan Mathews.

But among the Chargers' glaring weaknesses only eight preseason quarters into rookie coach Mike McCoy's tenure has been the ability -- or inability -- to protect the quarterback.

"The lack of protection, we really need to improve that," McCoy said Friday, confirming the obvious.

If quarterback Philip Rivers is going to shed two so-so seasons, he needs some help. But on the heels of getting sacked an AFC-high 49 times last year, the blocking has been spotty.

In 12 drop-backs during the first half of Thursday's loss to the Bears, Rivers was knocked to the ground three times. He also threw a pick. He also lost a fumble.

This is not a favorable indication of what might be on the horizon for Rivers, after he turned the ball over 47 times in the last two years. Only the Jets' Mark Sanchez has more turnovers, and he has been the butt of jokes.

But the Chargers aren't laughing. Even beyond protection, they have other issues.

The wide receivers' names are there on the roster, but seldom show up on the stat sheet. The Chargers went nearly the entire first half in Chicago before a wide receiver got his mitts on the ball.

The secondary has three new members and it shows.

The special teams have been dreadful.

The only good news is that McCoy and his staff have two more games to figure all this out.

Mathews at least gives them something to count on. He rushed for 45 yards on nine carries in Chicago and has been opening some eyes with the way he is hitting the hole as his line opens running lanes.

He has been among the highlights this preseason, running with conviction and a knowledge of gravity -- he's running downhill on nearly every play.

Meantime, the team is still facing that uphill battle on trying to protect the quarterback.

--Team correspondents for The Sports Xchange contributed material for this story.
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