For those of you that haven't had the opportunity to review this article by Acee regarding the OT position, it is a pretty interesting read. As I was reading through it, a thought occurred in my mind: would it be better for the Chargers to have a balanced offensive line that is good in all areas, or a line that is great in some areas and weak in others?
After the jump we will run through a little exercise in talent management to show ourselves that maybe the coaches don't have an easy job after all...
When talking about an offensive line, it's probably not fair to judge the individual pieces, since the line works as a unit. Each man relies on the man next to him and successful lines will have each man anticipating how the men to either side of him will react in a sort of unspoken communication.
This is going to be hard for me to explain without using numbers and a madden-esque point of view, but stick with me for a moment. Our first step is going to be establishing your "talent management philosophy".
Let's assume that you have a finite amount of talent to be distributed across the positions on your O-Line. To keep it simple, we will not distinguish between run blocking or pass blocking, but just give each player along the line a value of "skill points."
Here are the rules:
-You have a maximum of 40 skill points to spend.
-You must give points to each O-Line position: LT, LG, C, RG, RT
-Higher skill points mean that they will be a better player and lower skill points equate to a worse player.
So what does your offensive line look like? There are a myriad of options, but it probably fits into one of these categories:
LT - 8, LG - 8, C - 8, RG - 8, RT - 8.
LT - 10, LG - 6, C - 8, RG - 6, RT - 10.
LT - 12, LG - 10, C - 8, RG - 5, RT - 5.
So which line would you prefer to have? Would you rather have a line that is strong throughout? Or a line with significant strengths (and significant weaknesses)?
To me, the answer lies in the matchups. I would argue that in today's NFL, coordinators have a certain ability to be able to pinpoint a team's weaknesses and exploit them. A team that is balanced is able to more easily adapt to exploit it's opponent's weaknesses. Their coach may say, "if they shut down the pass, we'll run it down their throat." A team that is unbalanced is hoping that it's advantages over the opponent will outweigh the disadvantages over the opponent. This team's coach may say "We're gonna pass over them all day and our defense is going to have to shut down their running game to get us the ball."
So by now you are probably begging me to get to the point, so here it is:
The middle 3 positions of the O-Line are fairly set here in San Diego, and we really shouldn't see much change there. LG - Dielman, C - Hardwick, RG - Vasquez
So the question remains (as long as McNeill is out), who fills the positions of LT and RT? This is where your philosophy of talent distribution that we analyzed above fits in. Our current options at LT and RT appear to be Dombrowski, Clary, and Green.
For the sake of argument here, let's say that we have 26 talent points tied up in the middle 3 positions (LG - 9, C - 9, RG - 8). But instead of having points left to assign to the remaining position, you have three different players to fit in.
Dombrowski has played at both, so let's say that his talent at LT is rated at an 8 and his talent at RT is rated at an 8.
Clary is rated at: RT - 6 and LT - 6.
Green is rated at: LT - 7 and RT - 5.
The drop-off in talent from Dombrowski to Clary at the RT spot is 2 points, versus the drop off from Dombrowski to Green at the LT spot is 1 point.
This leaves us with two main options. In the first option, the team might be better off with Dombrowski at RT and Green at LT because the total sum of talent would be 41 points.
The other option would be to keep Dombrowski at LT (because protecting the QB's blind side is more important) but sacrifice the total talent along the line with a total of 40 talent points.
Now I realize that these are completely subjective numbers on my part and we may all have differing opinions on the different players and who is better, but I hope that I have begun to accurately describe some of the questions that the coaching staff are attempting to answer. this is the exact reason why i think Dombrowski saw so much time at RT in the last game: the team is trying to figure out the difference in talent from Dombrowski to Clary at RT and from Dombrowski to Green at LT. in the article that I linked above, Norv commented that at the end of the day "the best five guys on the field is what we're going to try to do."
Please also comment below on how your exercise turned out with respect to your "talent management philosophy."