Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus today ranked all 32 NFL offensive lines entering the 2016 season. As any San Diego Chargers fan already knows, the Chargers offensive line was terrible in 2015. They constantly missed time, and many of them were playing injured when they actually made it onto the field of play. Only Joe Barksdale, whom the Chargers re-signed this offseason, could be counted on from week to week.
So, as you might guess, PFF's rankings were not kind to the Chargers offensive line. Anyway, here's what Nathan had to say about them heading into this season:
The Chargers’ offensive line has a reputation for everyone being hurt, which seemed to be true last year. Joe Barksdale was the only O-lineman to play 1,100 or more snaps, and was also the only one with an above-average grade. Dunlap, Franklin, and Fluker all missed some time last year, and all played a bit worse than they had in previous seasons. If all of them can be healthy and return to their old form, this line—with the addition of Matt Slauson (Bears) at center—could actually be very good. If they play more like they did last season, or if they continue to see a lot of injuries, it will be another long year for the offense.
Supposedly, these rankings are projecting 2016 performance, so the line about how the Bolts' o-line could "actually be very good" must be considered a less than probable outcome for them to still be ranked 29th. I would contend that it's very unlikely the line will be in the bottom four this season for a few reasons.
First, the odds of the offensive line suffering as many injuries as they did in 2015 simply aren't that good. Some regression is to be expected and would be much appreciated. Second, the return of Ken Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator is going to make the line's job easier. The quick-passing style of Whisenhunt's offense means the line will not have to block as long for Philip Rivers. The offense will also be better suited to the limited skillset of Melvin Gordon which should make the line look better even if they're performing at the same level. Third, Matt Slauson is a real live professional center. The 2015 Chargers did not have one of those, and it turns out they're actually really important. Finally, D.J. Fluker now has an entire season of playing guard under his belt. His level of play should only improve this year.
With all that in play, I will be shocked if the Chargers have one of the league's worst offensive lines. What do you think? Are the Chargers really going to have a bottom four offensive line in 2016?