The Charger's eighth game was an enjoyable and challenging game to grade. The Chargers pass protection was humming and used almost nothing but six and five man protection schemes. Featuring a new twist on an old standard (Power F) Norv showed his creativity with "up the gut". The run game struggled early, but wore down the Titan defense and popped some big plays in the second half.
Marcus McNeill is renewed. His run blocking in this game was still slightly inconsistent, but when he hit...he HIT. Clearly, he has set out to show that his contract was justified. He has looked every bit the well-rounded franchise left tackle.
Kris Dielman had an interesting game. Unable to finish due to a reported stinger, he had at least a hat trick of absolutely crushing blocks. He also had numerous pancakes and excellent play in space. However, he did have more than one play where he just missed, usually coming off of double teams to get a LB. His replacement, Tyrone Green, did very well. He clearly has improved since his last understudy appearance in Seattle.
Nick Hardwick had a good game, though the degree of difficulty was low. This is always the case against 4-3 teams. Now within that restraint, he maximized his opportunities. Giving up little to no penetration, consistently securing his overtakes on doubles, and picking up LB run throughs. I expect the same against Houston. His help for the guards was good and his backside seals on Power and Counter were without error.
Louis Vasquez had his best game since returning from injury, and while still an inconsistent second year player he showed some of the "mauling" that made so many fans excited last year. His pass pro was markedly improved from the last two weeks and he looked good in space.
Jeromey Clary had a relatively bad game. No glaring mistakes, but a high rate of inconsistency. For Clary this is bad, as his greatest strength has been his consistency. His footwork was sloppy at times, he was caught off balance, and his pulling was below average. Now, his down blocks were very good, as were his double teams. His pass pro was very good at times and he kept Rivers clean from his side. It was nice to see him pull, and while he struggled at it I would expect with time this will become a viable weapon.
Bold statement: Jacob Hester is a good Fullback. Since that statement may result in an assault upon my house, I'll downgrade and just say he had a very, very good game. I did not see a single missed block. Twice he did not get solid contact on his assignment, but still took the proper angle which forced the defender away from the play rendering him "blocked". His running on Belly was good, as it has been all year.
Randy McMichael was awful. I don't like to bash players, but I think even he would say this after film. Missing far more blocks than those executed well, he obviously had a SNAFU on a punt as well. It is my sincerest hope he can bounce back against Houston, as he may be called upon to play a larger role. Kris Wilson was average from the line, but did very well when motioned to the F position next to or behind Rivers.
Overall, this was the best game the Offensive Line has played this year.
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