Last week, John Gennaro pointed out that one of the worst things about being a fan of the San Diego Chargers is watching the backfield fade into obscurity following so many years of greatness with LaDainian Tomlinson carrying the ball. While some of that can be blamed on the crop of Tailbacks and Fullbacks fielded by the Chargers in 2012, some of their futility can be blamed on the 2012 Offensive Line.
Let's make the painful review, shall we?
2012 in Review
|No.||Player||Position||2012 Play Count||Pass Block||Run Block||Overall|
Jared Gaither was the only lineman capable of producing a positive run-blocking rating. This offensive line was not doing the running backs any favors. Given all the drama surrounding the health of his back, it's easy to forget just how good a lineman Gaither really was.
Amusingly, given his reputation of being a penalty machine, Jeromy Clary was actually the best-rated Offensive Lineman on the Chargers in 2012 with regards to penalties.
Michael Harris had no business being the starting Left Tackle last year, and the ratings show that.
2013 Chargers Offensive Line
For 2013, the Chargers have added a couple new faces to the group of Running Backs, including a possible new starter.
|64||Colin Baxter||C||6'3", 310lb||25||3||Arizona|
|61||Nick Hardwick||C||6'4", 305lb||31||10||Purdue|
|60||David Molk||C||6'1", 300lb||24||2||Michigan|
|74||Rich Ohrnberger||C-G||6'2", 300lb||27||5||Penn State|
|78||Chad Rinehart||G||6'5", 321lb||28||6||Northern Iowa|
|63||Johnnie Troutman||G||6'4", 330lb||25||R||Penn State|
|62||Brandyn Dombrowski||G-T||6'5", 323lb||28||4||San Diego State|
|72||Steve Schilling||G-T||6'5", 312lb||24||3||Michigan|
|76||D.J. Fluker||OT||6'5", 339lb||22||R||Alabama|
|67||Nick Becton||OT||6'6", 323lb||23||R||Virginia Tech|
|66||Jeromey Clary||OT||6'6", 320lb||29||7||Kansas State|
|77||King Dunlap||OT||6'9", 330lb||27||6||Auburn|
|79||Mike Harris||OT||6'5", 318lb||24||2||UCLA|
|65||Randy Richards||OT||6'3", 303lb||22||R||Missouri State|
|70||Max Starks||OT||6'8", 345lb||31||10||Florida|
There is no doubt that the Chargers are going to miss Louis Vasquez heading into 2013. Though there may be some reasons to be optimistic here.
For starters, the team was caught flat-footed by Jared Gaither's — ahem — "injury" last year. They only had an undrafted rookie at their disposal to roll out in Gaither's stead. This turned out to be disastrous, which was pretty obvious when the best compliment all season was, "Mike Harris wasn't completely terrible this week!"
One benefit this year is the new Chargers leadership was able to plan for a life without Jared Gaither. It was pretty obvious they were letting him go from the start, so they were able to start picking up pieces to put in place. First snagging King Dunlap from the Eagles, then signed Guard Chad Rinehart from the Buffalo Bills the next day, then Rich Ohrnberger came from the Arizona Cardinals a week later.
Heading into the draft, it was pretty obvious that the Offensive Line was still a need, and the Chargers surprised few by selecting D.J. Fluker, then signing a few more undrafted rookies to shore up the line.
As pointed out by John Gennaro, the focus on rebuilding the offensive line — moving Jeromey Clary inside, and drafting D.J. Fluker — the running game will be improved this year. That's not in question.
What does remain a question: will Philip Rivers be able to maintain a more vertical presence this year? I think any move that keeps Mike Harris off the field in pass protection immediately bolsters the line.
There is still some concern with the loss of Louis Vasquez, but I think there are enough pieces in place to pick up the slack. Do you agree?