There’s been a lot of gloom and doom surrounding the San Diego Chargers following another late-game collapse at the hands of the Tennessee Titans in Week 3. The Bolts have experienced a number of injuries to key players forcing their suspect reserves into action and exposing an obvious lack of quality depth across the board. Still, one area where the depth has actually stepped up and performed admirably thus far has been along the offensive line.
For a team that ranked second to last in the NFL last season allowing 49 sacks, the Chargers have given up a mere five sacks on quarterback Philip Rivers so far through three contests this season despite having a number of different line combinations in action from play to play. That may very well be the case again this coming weekend when the Bolts welcome the Dallas Cowboys to Qualcomm Stadium as rookie right tackle D.J. Fluker, left tackle King Dunlap, and left guard Chad Rinehart all have questions around the availability.
If you remember back to training camp, the San Diego coaching staff actually did a wonderful job of preparing for a situation such as this by shuffling different combinations in and out during drills to get players accustomed to playing alongside different guys. Veteran center Nick Hardwick certainly believes that this preparedness has paid off thus far as he said:
“They did a really good job during training camp of moving guys in and out, up and down the roster, and letting different guys work together. And we’re all taught exactly the same. In our system, there’s no leeway for letting a guy do things his own way. You have to do it the way the system is designed, and that provides for effectiveness when these things happen.”
That was the thinking in camp when head coach Mike McCoy and offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris had the guys moving in and out of the lineup frequently. Teams that prepare the most generally fare the best when adversity strikes. McCoy had nothing but praise for the guys in the trenches for their performance in Week 3 as he said:
“A number of our guys had to step up. We had to shuffle the deck a couple times there. At the end of the game, it didn’t look anything like the five guys we had there to start the season out. There were four guys in there that were different, but to their credit, they did a nice job of stepping up.”
And that’s the lesson that can be learned by all of these guys from camp to the current situation entering Week 4. It always pays to expect the unexpected, and the Chargers are living proof that this approach pays off. While some areas of the roster have been exposed for lacking quality from top to bottom, at least the offensive line has looked like a solid unit regardless of the faces out on the field.