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Chargers Offensive Line Preview/Grades

Discussion in 'Chargers Fan Forum' started by Deb, Jun 26, 2008.

  1. Deb

    Deb BoltTalker

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    from theHuddle.com


    San Diego Chargers


    The Chargers have developed into perennial AFC powers and a trendy pick to represent the conference in this year’s Super Bowl, but it isn’t just LaDainian Tomlinson who has put the Bolts in such a position; as Dan Dierdorf is famous for spewing, “it all thstarths up front.” San Diego built and has kept together a solid bordering on spectacular offensive line, consistently ranking in the league’s top 10 in both fewest sacks allowed and just about every rushing category of note. There’s no question that LT’s presence has plenty to do with those numbers, but the entire left side of the Chargers’ line didn’t wind up in Honolulu last season just because Tomlinson carried them there. Tackle Marcus McNeill and guard Kris Dielman make up one of the better left sides in the NFL; they’ve helped the Chargers reduce their sack total each of their two seasons as starters and will continue to keep Philip Rivers upright as he looks downfield for Antonio Gates, Chris Chambers, and Vincent Jackson. And once center Nick Hardwick returns from foot surgery—the team is hopeful but not banking on his return by the start of the season—the Chargers will field the same line they ended last year with. Guard Mike Goff and tackle Jeromey Clary aren’t nearly the equivalent of Dielman and McNeill; both are solid in pass protection but not dominating run blockers. Then again, how dominant do you need to be with LT running behind you?


    Hardwick’s return may be the key to this unit’s replication of past success. In the seven games he’s missed over the past three seasons the Chargers have averaged a mere 3.3 yards per carry on the ground—nearly a yard and a half below what the Bolts produced when Hardwick was healthy. San Diego signed veteran Jeremy Newberry as insurance; he’ll compete with Cory Withrow for the starting job until Hardwick returns. Newberry, along with Scott Mruczkowski, also offers a backup plan at guard—though if it’s Dielman they’re asked to replace instead of Goff things could get ugly. After falling one pick shy of tackle Duane Brown on draft day the Chargers opted for journeyman L.J. Shelton as depth behind McNeill and Clary. Again, asking Shelton to fill in short-term for Clary wouldn’t be tragic; asking him to take on McNeill’s duties would constitute an emergency.


    There is little question Chargers will be hot commodities at your fantasy draft or auction, and for good reason. However, Hardwick’s status must be monitored as an extended absence could tilt the balance of power atop your draft board. And if either of San Diego’s left side Pro Bowlers go down with injury, Rivers’ laundry bill would jump significantly as he spends a greater amount of time on the turf; that, in turn, would adversely impact the looks Chambers and Jackson receive downfield. No need to panic over the Bolts… but don’t go to sleep on what a worst-case scenario might do to your fantasy rankings.

    RUN BLOCKING: B+
    PASS BLOCKING: A-
    OVERALL GRADE: A-
     
  2. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    We have pretty fair depth now, but I REALLY hope that Nick is back & healthy in short order. He's the linchpin on the OL.

    Gotta love almost any article that takes a shot at Dikheaddorf. :lol:
     
  3. SanDiegoRon

    SanDiegoRon BoltTalker

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    am still not convinced that AJ did his best to insure he got the best o-line possible going into this season... they are the "weakest link"...

    I'm still shaking my head that he can move up in the draft to satisfy a woodie he had for Hestor, yet didn't budge on acquiring a quality o-lineman...

    I still hope that acquisition is still to come...

    thanx for the article...

    29 days....
     
  4. Retired Catholic

    Retired Catholic BoltTalker

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    Hardwick calls the blocking assignments as well. That, as much as raw talent, can effect the line play. Newberry has experience with that and if Withrow has learned to do it, then the drop off will probably not be nearly as pronounced.
     
  5. Rainman

    Rainman BoltTalker

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    Calling the Bolts' O-line "solid, bordering on spectacular" is overly generous, IMO.
    However, the guy seems to understand the vulnerability that an injury to Dielman or McNeill would create...
     
  6. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

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    Yeah, I don't think that I would go beyond solid. But that should be enough if we can keep the starters healthy. :yes:
     
  7. Thread_Killer

    Thread_Killer Well-Known Member

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    I'd give our O-line B grades across the board. That said, we have a number of "ascending" players who will continue to improve.
     
  8. AnteaterCharger

    AnteaterCharger Calibrating Bolttalk, Podcast by Podcast Staff Member Super Moderator Podcaster

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    chargers need to get better at consistent run blocking like they were doing in 06 and McNeil needs to step it up and act more like he was in his rookie year. We got no rush push against Tennessee and other good run stopping teams.
     
  9. SanDiegoRon

    SanDiegoRon BoltTalker

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    :icon_eek:
     
  10. Showmeyourbolt

    Showmeyourbolt Well-Known Member

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    That's probably about right if you take into account how they progressed throughout the year. After playing at a C- to D level through the first half of the season, they started getting better near the end of the season, and were playing their best football going into the playoffs. Hopefully they get off to a quicker start this year, because the O-line play will ultimately decide how our offense will do. Hopefully Newberry will be prove to be an able sub for Hardwick, and I can only hope that he might take over for Goff at some point.
     

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