Breaking Down New Bolts: Offensive Review

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Last season, Jason Peters broke down film of newly signed offensive linemen King Dunlap and Chad Rinehart before they ever played a down for the San Diego Chargers. How did his predictions pan out?

Free Agency is upon us, and now I review how I did evaluating offensive players last offseason. What lessons can be learned, so that I can do an even better job this offseason?

Chad Rinehart

What I Said

Rinehart is a very capable blocker at the line of scrimmage. He gets good push back on the line on run plays, and has good awareness on pass plays to keep his quarterback clean. For the fundamentals on the line, he does extremely well.

Rinehart's weaknesses break down into two categories:

  • He sometimes has trouble staying engaged on defenders. He will get a good initial push, but more agile defenders will give him the slip, and get into pursuit of the ball carrier.
  • He is absolutely terrible when asked to block in open space. Running to the second level, pulling to the outside, or acting as the lead blocker on a screen play, he tends to perform very poorly on.

What Happened

Rinehart turned out to be a very serviceable guard for the San Diego Chargers. He missed several games early in the season with injury, but came back Week 10, and played nearly every snap from Week 11 on, contributing at both left guard and right guard.

The Chargers just re-signed Rinehart. Taking his games at RG and expanding it to a 16 game season, he projected to a season PFF score of +7.2. Taking Clary's games at RG and expanding it to 16 games, he projects to a PFF score of -28.8. Rinehart would provide superior play at a better price. Given another season to be under the tutelage of Coach D'Alessandris, he could provide a solid contributor to the line for seasons to come.

King Dunlap

What I Said

As a pass protector, King Dunlap is a serviceable tackle. He has a good punch with his hands that stops defenders progress well, but his footwork is subpar. After the initial punch, he will often be forced into a slow retreat, getting pushed back. He also is susceptible to speed rushes to the outside, and a quick defensive end or linebacker will see some success trying to beat him that way.

As a run blocker, Dunlap rates below average. He has no drive, and at best he simply keeps the defender from tackling the runner in the backfield. His punch only slows defenders down, and gives them space to divert toward the runner instead. In run blocking, you want your linemen to be able to drive defenders back. That ability allows for bigger holes for the runner to maneuver through, and takes defenders out of the play longer.

What Happened

Dunlap turned out to reverse this analysis. He was an absolute beast run blocking, and was merely serviceable in pass protection. In 2012 with the Eagles, Dunlap posted a pass blocking score of +11.5 and a run blocking score of -3.4. Over the course of the 2013 season, Dunlap put up a pass blocking score of -1.6 and a steamrolled to a run blocking PFF score of +15.7.

Part of this change could be scheme related. He blocked in Andy Reid's west coast scheme that also often forced runners to find their own gaps to run through, rather than creating gaps. With the Chargers in 2013, he was in a ball control offense with power running essential to the ground game. Under Coach D, I think he'll improve on last year's pass blocking while still proving to be effective in the run game.

Dunlap proved to be a cost effective bargain. The Chargers will need retain a solid backup, as Dunlap proved to have some injury issues (especially concussions) with his starting role.

The Breakdown

I was pretty well off on my analysis of Dunlap, but I learned a few things about what to look for. Especially for offensive linemen I should look at how he is performing not only on his individual assignments, but how well he is doing within the overall blocking scheme.

Going into the offseason, I'll be evaluating free agents General Manager Tom Telesco signs, breaking down game film and gauging how well that player fits with the San Diego Chargers. We've had a year to look at what the schemes look like on both sides of the ball under the new coaching staff, and that also will help. Stay tuned, and let's see who the new Chargers to break down are.

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