The San Diego Chargers will play their 2013 regular season opener at home against the Houston Texans tonight at 7:20 p.m. PDT. San Diego’s offensive line allowed 49 sacks, which ranked fourth in the NFL last season, while Houston’s defense had 44 sacks, which ranked fifth in the league.
According to U-T San Diego beat writer Michael Gehlken, when asked about J.J. Watt, Chargers rookie right tackle D.J. Fluker said “I fear no man.” Watt led the NFL with 20.5 sacks last season, so San Diego’s offensive line will have their hands full in trying to protect QB Philip Rivers.
Houston will be without Antonio Smith, who ranked second on their team with seven sacks in 2012. However, the offensive line could have a challenge with Whitney Mercilus, who had six sacks in 16 games (three starts).
One way for Rivers to avoid some of the pressure that Houston will more than likely put on him is by throwing quick passes. San Diego’s coaching staff has emphasized improving Rivers’ completion percentage and cutting down on his turnovers, which could be done with shorter passes at times.
It will be interesting to see if San Diego’s offensive line is up to the challenge. Like San Diego, the Chicago Bears brought back one starter from their offensive line in 2012. Chicago allowed 44 sacks, which ranked eighth in the NFL last year, but allowed zero sacks yesterday against a Cincinnati Bengals team that ranked third in the NFL with 51 sacks in 2012.
Chicago had 2011 and 2012 Pro Bowler Jermon Bushrod at left tackle, but they also had two rookies at right guard and RT. Fluker is the only rookie starter on San Diego’s offensive line heading into tonight’s game.
We live in a society in which comments can be blown out of proportion thanks to social media. Some might see Fluker’s comment as arrogant, but it is the right mentality for him to have heading into a game that should test a mostly new offensive line. After the game starts, Fluker’s nerves could change his mind, but no one should let an opponent feel like they have an edge in any sport.