San Diego Chargers: New Season, Same Horrific Offensive Line?

By Kenny Gardner
San Diego Chargers
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

The San Diego Chargers allowed 49 sacks last season which ranked fourth-worst in the NFL.  San Diego’s front office signed left tackle King Dunlap, LT Max Starks and chose former Alabama Crimson Tide right tackle D.J. Fluker in this year’s draft to improve their pass protection.

San Diego’s offensive line allowed three sacks on four drives with Philip Rivers at quarterback. Rivers showed that he was understandably upset by spiking the ball after he was sacked by Chicago Bears defensive tackle Nate Collins, who has a half sack in 22 games played in his career. Collins went around former RT Jeromey Clary, who was converted to right guard this year.

Chicago ranked eighth in the NFL with 41 sacks in 2012, but they were without All-Pro defensive end Julius Peppers last night. Peppers ranked ninth in the league with 11.5 sacks last year. Chicago was also without Pro Bowl DT Henry Melton, who had six sacks in 2012.

Fluker was impressive in blocking when San Diego ran the ball which is why some feel as though he would be better suited at RG this year. However, Fluker allowed Corey Wootton to blow by him and sack Rivers. Wootton was one of Chicago’s best pass rushers last year, and this was a learning experience for Fluker.

The battle to see who will protect Rivers’ blindside may be all but over.  Dunlap has been more impressive based on reports and Starks allowed Shea McClellin to blow by him, sack and strip Rivers of the football.  This led to one of San Diego’s four turnovers in last night’s loss.

If Chicago was healthy, last night’s performance by the offensive line in terms of pass protection would have been frustrating but somewhat understandable.

San Diego’s first regular season game is in three weeks against the Houston Texans, a team that ranked fifth in the league with 44 sacks last year. San Diego’s offensive line needs to show signs of improvement before this game because Rivers will be in for a long night if they continue to play this way.

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