By Danny Cox
The San Diego Chargers have experienced bad seasons before, but 2012 is turning into not only one of the worst in recent memory, but in history. There is just a whole lot of nothing going right for the Bolts, and blame can be pointed in many directions. Thing is, that is exactly what will happen once the season is over.
Norv Turner will more than likely lose his job. Assistant coaches and specialists will be out on the streets. Some players will be replaced and the Chargers can essentially begin something of a “rebuilding” period.
One place that will need to be looked at will be – and already is – the offensive line.
Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals helped the offensive line of the Chargers take an even worse turn. Starting right tackle Jeromey Clary was lost to a knee injury. Left guard Tyronne Green re-aggravated a hamstring problem that had been plaguing him. Left tackle Mike Harris suffered a high ankle sprain that could essentially keep him out for weeks.
Turner already said that he doesn’t expect a single one of those guys to be in uniform against the Pittsburgh Steelers in week 14.
“(It took) a real toll on our offensive line,” said Turner. “Jeromey Clary went out after two plays and I would not expect him to be able to play this week. Michael Harris has a high ankle sprain and played the last half of the third and fourth quarter with a high ankle sprain and fought through it extremely well. Tyronne Green has a hamstring (injury). It would be a stretch for those guys to be available on Sunday. We have some work to do in terms of the offensive line. Number one: we have to find where we are going to play the guys and number two: who those guys will be.”
Injuries appear to be the norm for the Chargers’ offensive line this year, and it certainly rings true for the offensive tackle spot. Kevin Haslam is literally the only healthy player remaining for that spot, and he was just signed off of the practice squad a week and a half ago.
San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has been sacked repeatedly in the past two weeks, and that just spells disaster. If the quarterback doesn’t have time to throw the ball, then there is going to be no passing game.
If there is no passing game, then there can truly be no running game, either. Running back Ryan Mathews knows that, and that’s evidenced by the mere nine attempts he received this past weekend. Turner may not believe that the offensive line is to be blamed for the Chargers’ rushing woes, but if the coach isn’t giving the running game a chance, then there’s no one to blame at all.
“I would (like more carries),” Mathews said. “That’s me. But, I’m going to do whatever I can and do whatever I’m asked for the team. Whether that’s two carries or 25 carries, no matter what it is. I’m going to try to make the most of my opportunities and help the team win.”
Right now, the Chargers have an offensive line that includes a guy fresh off the practice squad, an undrafted rookie free agent, and a few guys that have hardly played at all in 2012. Chemistry together on the field is essential, but right now they’re just hoping to be able to not have every offensive play result in lost yardage.
There is no reason to purposely put blame on San Diego’s offensive line and say that “poor play” is part of the team’s failures this season. Injuries can happen to any team in the NFL, and it just so happens that the injury bug bit the entire offensive line of the Chargers.
“Bit” may not be the most appropriate word here. “Slammed by the injury mack truck” seems more fitting.
One thing is certain, and it is that the Chargers have got to figure out some depth on the offensive line. Stop worrying about 2012 and begin looking ahead to 2013. If this year’s trends continue on into next year, then the team will have to start looking for a new quarterback because Rivers’ career will have to be cut short thanks to picking himself up off the ground on every single play.
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Danny Cox knows a little something about the NFL, whether it means letting you know what penalty will come from the flag just thrown on the field or quickly spouting off who the Chicago Bears drafted in the first round of the 1987 draft (Jim Harbaugh). He plans on bringing you the best news, previews, recaps, and anything else that may come along with the exciting world of the National Football League. His work can be found on Examiner.com.