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Keeping Rivers clean key to Chargers' turnaround

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Nov 27, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    By Michael Blunda

    It's been a tale of two halves for the Chargers this season: the first five games, in which they went 2-3, and the past five games, in each of which they have emerged victorious. While numerous factors have contributed to this dramatic turnaround — better health, a more ferocious pass rush and a stronger running game, to name a few — one that may go unnoticed is the Bolts' major improvement in pass protection.
    While QB Philip Rivers was getting battered during the first five contests, taking 15 sacks over that span, he has been kept very clean throughout the team's five-game winning streak, being sacked just five times. For an offense so dependent on the health of its Pro Bowl-caliber quarterback, Rivers' remaining relatively untouched has allowed the unit to execute at a much more efficient level.
    Obviously, playing with leads has had a lot to do with this, too, as Rivers hasn't been forced to go into pass-only mode when trailing. Also, we hear that the implementation of shorter routes has gotten the ball out of Rivers' hands quicker, and that San Diego has received impressive blocking from its running backs and tight ends.
    But it all starts up front with the offensive line, a group whose play has really picked up since early in the year. The left side, especially, has been strong. Former Pro Bowl OLT Marcus McNeill had a down campaign in 2008 while dealing with injuries, but he has rebounded well this year, getting his swagger back, we're told. OLG Kris Dielman, a Pro Bowler the last two seasons, has maintained his high level of physical play.
    In the middle, Scott Mruczkowski has been surprisingly effective while filling in for injured C Nick Hardwick. Despite never having started a game at center before this season, Mruczkowski has shown admirable command of the position over the past nine games. With Hardwick set to return from ankle surgery soon, the unit will only get that much better.
    On the right side, we hear rookie ORG Louis Vasquez has been up and down from one play to the next, but he has shown flashes of his serious talent. ORT Jeromey Clary had probably been the group's weak link, but a Week 11 ankle injury landed him on injured reserve, meaning versatile reserve Brandyn Dombrowski or recently signed veteran Jon Runyan would replace him in the lineup.
  2. IFiredCHart

    IFiredCHart Well-Known Member

    Nov 25, 2009
    I have been very impressed with the O-line, especially in light of the injury bug, and I feel that we possibly have the NFL's best line with Hardwick and Runyan.

    Even Louis has been getting better and better each game, and he has been integral to providing a strong presence on the right side. I definitely think he is a keeper. :abq1:

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