D.J. Fluker Quandary for San Diego Chargers a Good Problem to Have
To say that the offensive line was a mess for the San Diego Chargers a year ago would be a severe understatement. Quarterback Philip Rivers was sacked 49 times and hurt the turf on far more occasions than that during the course of the season. The team addressed those issues during the offseason with a few free agent signings as well as first round draft pick D.J. Fluker, but a question still remains in San Diego.
The former Alabama Crimson Tide tackle is a massive individual at 6’5” 339lbs., but some analysts still believe he would be best suited at guard at the NFL level. Fluker’s straight ahead mauling style would work well at the guard position, but he excelled as a tackle in college. Mike McCoy addressed those questions after the team’s mini-camp as he told reporters:
“Anything is possible. But where he is right now is where we think we are keeping him.”
Clearly the team could use an upgrade at right tackle where Jeromey Clary has been underachieving for the past three to four seasons. Kicking Clary inside to guard would mask some of his deficiencies as far as pass protection is concerned and get him closer to the center so that he isn’t committing false start penalties on an every drive basis as usual. That’s why McCoy is optimistic about Fluker remaining at tackle where he is most comfortable.
The man under center in Rivers is just as pumped about the new-look line as he told USA TODAY Sports:
“It’s been exciting to see how that group has taken form. There’s a lot of experience in there, and some new guys that are ready to go. Towards the end of last year, we were having a hard time dressing seven or eight guys hardly.
“It’s definitely going to be a group that has more depth and experience than we’ve had.”
As for how they will actually line up, that remains anybody’s guess, but the Chargers have gained plenty of flexibility along the line this offseason. Out are guys like Tyronne Green, Louis Vasquez, and Jared Gaither, and in are King Dunlap, Chad Rinehart, Max Starks, and Fluker. The new zone-blocking scheme under offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris will certainly give this team a fresh look in the trenches.
Some may look at the uncertainty with Fluker as a tackle or a guard as a negative, but for the Chargers it’s a huge positive. After spending last season helping Rivers up from the ground more often than not, hopefully the line can at least be more effective at doing its job in 2013 and keep the man in the pocket upright. There’s no doubt the big man from Bama will play a big role in that, regardless of where he actually ends up playing on the line.