When the San Diego Chargers fired offensive line coach Hal Hunter and brought in Joe D’Alessandris to replace him, many assumed the switch from the man-blocking scheme to the zone-blocking scheme was coming. However, maybe this assumption was a bit premature.
It’s strange to think the Chargers would bring in D’Alessandris, who ran a successful zone-blocking scheme with the Buffalo Bills, and not change schemes. However, besides bringing in D’Alessandris, not a whole lot has been done for us to believe that they are actually making the switch. Yes, the Chargers allowed last season’s starting guards, Louis Vasquez and Tyronne Green, to leave in free agency as they were probably better fits for the man blocking scheme. But besides bringing in Chad Rinehart, who followed D’Alessandris from Buffalo, no one brought in seems to fit the zone-blocking mold.
The Chargers drafted right tackle D.J. Fluker in the first round of the NFL Draft. At 6-foot-5, 335 pounds, Fluker is a mauler who clearly fits best in a man-blocking scheme. He would be much more effective being assigned one guy to take on and dominate, rather than be utilized in creating confusion for opposing defenses. Fluker might not have the feet or quickness to even be effective in the zone-blocking scheme.
The Chargers also flirted with free agent Bryant McKinnie, who ultimately decided to return to the Baltimore Ravens. At 6-foot-8, 360 pounds, he too would’ve been an ill-fit for the scheme. Though McKinnie won’t be suiting up in the blue and gold, the Chargers certainly had plans for him to start on the left side opposite Fluker.
Head coach Mike McCoy in the past has adjusted his offenses to fit the strengths of his players, and may be doing it again. Fluker was the best offensive lineman available when the Chargers were on the clock, and McKinnie, at the time, was the best lineman available in free agency. The team likely is trying to stockpile the best possible talent and will adjust their schemes to fit their strengths.
But I doubt D’Alessandris will coach up his players without at least some zone-blocking concepts. What’s more likely is that the Chargers will run some sort of hybrid man and zone scheme in 2013.