The San Diego Chargers can put the disappointing 2012 NFL season behind them and try to use 2013 to get back on track. The Chargers need to use the off-season to get help for their top players and fix their main problem: their offensive line.
Left tackle Jared Gaither, who has dealt with injuries throughout his career, cannot be relied on to stay healthy and protect Philip Rivers’ blindside. Meanwhile, right tackle Jeromey Clary has been a weak link on a shaky offensive line for years, and should be upgraded.
Philip Rivers, who is by no means a mobile quarterback, was sacked a career-high 49 times in 2012. Rivers also threw for a career-low 6.8 yards per attempt, while he threw for well over eight yards per attempt in his prime. The offensive line just couldn’t hold up to give Rivers time to stand in the pocket and allow his receivers to get open down field. Many of his throws were checkdown passes to his running backs.
Help along the offensive line would also benefit running back Ryan Mathews, who ran for a career-low 3.8 yards per carry in 2012. Mathews, who has taken heat for his injury problems and fumbles, can’t be fairly evaluated without a competent offensive line to open running lanes for him. With just one 1000-yard season and averaging just 13 games per season, 2013 will be a make-or-break year for Mathews.
San Diego’s 7-9 record slots them at pick 11 in April’s NFL Draft. The Chargers front office will likely take a good, long look at offensive linemen Luke Joeckel, Taylor Lewan, and Jake Matthews while preparing for the 2013 NFL Draft. Other options could be Miami Dolphins offensive tackle Jake Long and Denver Broncos offensive tackle Ryan Clady, who are set to be free agents.