The San Diego Chargers finished their 2012 season with a 7-9 record, which was the first time they had a losing record since 2003. This was due in part to an offensive line that allowed 49 sacks which ranked fourth worst in the NFL. San Diego needs the offensive line to play better if the team has a real shot at succeeding in 2013.
San Diego ranked 22nd in the league with 3,606 receiving yards and 30th in yards per reception. The Green Bay Packers allowed 51 sacks, but Green Bay had a balanced receiving corps — and of course, Aaron Rodgers. Green Bay did not have a receiver that ranked in the top 25 in receiving yards per game, but James Jones led the league with 14 touchdown receptions and Green Bay ranked eighth in receiving yards.
Green Bay won the NFC North Division with an 11-5 record and they averaged 27 points per game to make up for their offensive line. San Diego averaged 22 points per game which ranked 20th in the league, so they could not afford to have an offensive line that played so poorly.
The San Francisco 49ers ranked ninth worst in the NFL with 41 sacks allowed and made it to the Super Bowl last season. However, like Green Bay, SF had more of a balanced team. 49ers running back Frank Gore ranked 10th in rushing yards per game and yards per attempt while he ranked 11th in rushing touchdowns. Chargers RB Ryan Mathews ranked 23rd, 32nd and 74th in these categories last year.
San Francisco placed third in yards per rushing attempt while San Diego ranked 31st in this category. SF had fewer receiving yards than San Diego, but the 49ers ranked sixth in yards per reception, so they made more big plays in passing situations. San Diego’s defense ranked ninth, but SF ranked third in fewest yards per play allowed.
San Diego lost their best receiver Danario Alexander for the 2013 season when he tore his ACL. This makes the offensive line more important than it already was because Philip Rivers lost his best weapon. While San Diego’s other receivers should be ready for the season opener, most of them that will see playing time had multiple seasons with injury problems.
Rivers’ frustration with the offensive line was evident in last week’s preseason loss against the Chicago Bears. After Rivers was sacked for the third time in four drives, he spiked the ball into the turf.
GB and SF proved that teams can succeed with bad offensive lines, but San Diego does not appear to have the weapons to duplicate this success.