SAN DIEGO (AP) — Two exhibition games into the Mike McCoy era and the San Diego Chargers don’t look that much different than they did in the final few years of the Norv Turner era.
The Chargers committed four turnovers and had some big special teams breakdowns in a 33-28 loss at Chicago on Thursday night.
Philip Rivers, who had 22 turnovers last year, threw an interception and lost a fumble while being sacked. Backup quarterback Charlie Whitehurst lost a fumble, and rookie Keenan Allen muffed a punt.
“You can’t turn the ball over four times on the road. It’s tough enough in this league to win on the road and if you do that you put yourself in a very bad position,” McCoy said Friday. “We gave up too many big plays on special teams and didn’t help ourselves enough.”
The Chargers had a punt blocked and gave up a 100-yard kickoff return by Michael Ford, setting up a 3-yard scoring run by Michael Bush.
“We were in the situation where we were down 20-14 and have the momentum on our side, but then give up a 100-yard return. If it wasn’t for (Marcus) Cromartie’s phenomenal play, it would have been a touchdown.” Bush scored two plays after the big return.
“The score is a little misleading compared to how the defense performed,” McCoy said. “There was seven times that the Bears got the ball in good field position and we put our defense in a bad spot. They did a nice job in certain situations of sudden change, but six of those seven drives they scored points. We have to do a better job of helping the defense out.”
Rivers, who was sacked 49 times last year, was sacked three times by the Bears.
One of the big position battles for the Chargers is at left tackle, where either King Dunlap or Max Starks will protect Rivers’ blind side.
McCoy said the play by the left tackles “was OK, but needs to be better. They know that. We gave up a couple pressures in there and that’s something we’re going to keep grinding at, but I think everyone on the first offensive line can play better.”
Ryan Mathews, who needs a big bounce-back season, looked good gaining 45 yards on nine carries.
“We’ve talked about the way we’re going to run the ball and the style of offense. We’re going to run the ball downhill with no minus plays,” said McCoy, who was hired after Turner was fired in the wake of three straight seasons out of the playoffs. “It’s very similar to the quarterback; take what they give you. Don’t be bouncing it and running sideways getting minus yards. We want to keep pounding the ball and go downhill. The offensive line also did a nice job in the running game yesterday.”
Rookie right tackle D.J. Fluker took out two defenders, including rookie middle linebacker Jonathan Bostic on Fozzy Whittaker’s 3-yard touchdown run.
Defensive end Corey Liuget left late in the first quarter with a shoulder injury.
“That was more precautionary, but he went out the other day in practice and came right back in. Once he went down, I just said take him out. Let’s move on and give someone else the opportunity. We know what Corey Liuget can do here.”
McCoy didn’t have any injury updates.
“The players didn’t have to be in until the afternoon, so they’re meeting with our training staff now and I’ll have more updates for you tomorrow.”
Running back Danny Woodhead, who has had a mystery injury, suited up but didn’t play Thursday night.
“He’s going to play when he’s ready to go. We’re going to take it day to day with him and when he’s ready you will see him out there,” McCoy said.
The Chargers have refused to say what sidelined Woodhead recently.
“We’ve already talked about that. He’ll be out there when he is ready to go,” McCoy said.
The Chargers (0-2) play at Arizona a week from Saturday.
Also Friday, the Chargers signed wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu and waived-injured wide receiver Danario Alexander. Alexander is out for the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee on Aug. 6. If Alexander clears waivers, the Chargers will place him on injured reserve. Ajirotutu originally joined the Chargers in 2010 as an undrafted rookie from Fresno State and spent time with the Chargers during each of the 2010-12 seasons. He’s also played for Carolina.