Key for San Diego Chargers Against Dallas Cowboys: Protect Philip Rivers As Best As Possible

By Kevin Chan
Philip Rivers San Diego Chargers Dallas Cowboys
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

At this point, it’s pretty clear that the San Diego Chargers defense is not going to carry this team like most of us originally thought. The defense is currently ranked 31st overall, giving up over 470 yards per game, while it’s the 11th ranked offense that has kept them in games. Playing a team like the Dallas Cowboys, with all the weapons they have on offense certainly doesn’t help as John Pagano and the Chargers defense scramble to figure things out.

If San Diego was to win this game, they’ll likely have to win in shootout fashion. With all the struggles on defense and in the running game, the Bolts will need Philip Rivers to do most of the heavy lifting on offense if they were to have a chance. So far, he has done a good job protecting the football, getting the ball to his playmakers, and keeping drives alive on third downs this season. A lot of the credit to his resurrection can go to a much improved offensive line, which has only allowed five sacks through the first three games.

However, there is a chance that when Rivers drops back to pass on Sunday, it could look similar to what we saw in 2012. That would be disastrous, but a real possibility at this point.

The entire starting offensive line is dealing with injuries. Center Nick Hardwick (shin) and right tackle D.J. Fluker (concussion) practiced Thursday and appear ready to play this week. However, left tackle King Dunlap (concussion), left guard Chad Rinehart (toe) and right guard Jeromey Clary (clavicle) remain out, and their status for Sunday’s game is up in the air.

At guard, Rich Ohrnberger and Johnnie Troutman will start if Rinehart and Clary are out. If Dunlap is unable to go, Mike Harris, who started and played well at right tackle last week, will take his spot on the left side. Though Harris appears to be a better player than last season (when he was disastrous), the thought of Harris going up against DeMarcus Ware is a scary thing.

Luckily for the Bolts, the team won’t have to deal with Anthony Spencer, who is out for the season, but Ware still presents a difficult challenge by himself. The Chargers may need to have their tight ends and running backs chip him or stay in a block more often to give Rivers a little extra time. Expect more of Danny Woodhead and even Ronnie Brown given Ryan Mathews’ struggles in pass protection.

It should be noted that Harris, Ohrnberger and Troutman were forced into the lineup last week and actually performed okay, so not all hope is lost. Still, starting three backups along the offensive line is a scary thing considering Rivers needs a good pocket to be successful.

Kevin Chan is a San Diego Chargers writer for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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