The 2013 San Diego Chargers are a team that is in transition and rebuilding after having fired general manager A.J. Smith and head coach Norv Turner at the end of the 2012 season, in which they went 7-9. The tenure of that general manager/head coach team will be remembered for wasting a chance to get the Chargers to the Super Bowl by not winning when they had one of, if not the best, rosters in the NFL.
Now with Tom Telesco as general manager and Mike McCoy as the new head coach, the Chargers are starting anew, in the hopes of assembling and building a team that can finally bring a Lombardi trophy to the city. While it is clear that the 2013 Chargers are a long ways away from that goal, the Chargers and their fans have a much bigger worry heading into this season: the issue surrounding the quality and depth of their offensive line.
So far in the preseason, the Chargers’ offensive line has not looked good at all. Quarterback Philip Rivers has been pressured and rushed on what seems like every other drop back he has taken while playing so far this preseason. The Chargers used their first round draft pick in the 2013 NFL Draft to select offensive guard/tackle D.J. Fluker out of Alabama, in a clear sign that they acknowledged that the offensive line was the team’s biggest weakness. So far in this preseason, Fluker has looked every bit of being a rookie offensive lineman, as he has struggled in practice and during games.
Aside from Fluker, the only other known players on the Chargers’ offensive line depth chart are center Nick Hardwick and tackle Max Starks. While Hardwick is recognized as a being an above average center, Starks has spent the first eight years of his career as a member of an at times maligned Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line that has been known to not easily protect Ben Roethlisberger. In the last few seasons, Starks has struggled with knee injuries.
Despite Fluker, Hardwick and Starks being the three best offensive lineman the Chargers have, their presence alone does not elevate the talent level of the rest of the players in that position. Aside from largely being no-names, they are no-names who are not that good and do not inspire any confidence that they can come in and perform or take over for extended time if a starter were to go down with an injury.
Rivers was sacked 49 times last season, because he had an offensive line that was largely filled with players who clearly had no business playing. While their have been some additions to the offensive line, the play during training camp and preseason games by the Chargers’ offensive line so far signals that once again, they are what’s wrong with the team this 2013 season.