Los Angeles Chargers offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga

Las Angeles Chargers are going heavy on offensive line in 2020

  • Bryan Bulaga
  • los angeles chargers
  • nfl free agency
  • Offensive Line
  • Trai Turner
By Mike Brez March 18, 2020 0 Comment
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The offensive line has been an issue for the Los Angeles Chargers for years. In 2020, the organization looks to change that with major additions.

When we look back over the 2019 season, most of the blame for the Los Angeles Chargers 5-11 campaign is put on former quarterback Philip Rivers. Another problem was the number of injuries sustained on both sides of the ball. That seems to be a reoccurring issue for the Chargers over the last five years or so. While both of those did play into the poor performances in 2019, they weren’t the only reasons.

One significant issue that has been consistent for years is the offensive line was horrendous. Rivers showed significant regression, but his offensive line didn’t do him any favors either.  General manager Tom Telesco has done an excellent job of bringing in young talent over the last few years. Unfortunately, when it comes to the offensive line, it’s clear that it isn’t his bread and butter. Several draft picks since Tolesco took over the Chargers have ended up as duds. D.J. Fluker, Max Tuerk, and Forrest Lamp are all excellent examples. Fluker and Tuerk are no longer on the roster, and Lamp can’t seem to get on the field. He played in seven games for the Chargers in 2019, only starting two of those.

Los Angeles Chargers lack of addressing the offensive line

In 2018, the Los Angeles Chargers offensive line ranked 29th as a unit, according to Pro Football Focus. Even after a disastrous season from the front, the Chargers expected to start those same five linemen in 2019. Injuries made matters even worse with center Mike Pouncing leaving for Injured Reserve five weeks into the season. Left tackle Russell Okung suffered a pulmonary embolism that was caused by blood clots. When he made his return, he continued to deal with injuries limiting him to only six games in 2019. Los Angeles had nine different starters across the offensive line last year. For a position that feeds off of continuity, that’s a significant concern.

We can discuss what went wrong for Rivers in 2019, but we cannot ignore the fact that the offensive line played a significant role in the decline of the team. Over the last ten years, the Chargers offensive line has never reached the top half of the league by PFF grading. It’s hard to believe that at this stage in Rivers’ career that the organization did little to help him with protection. What makes it even worse is that the team knows their quarterback is not going to dink and dunk his way down the field every drive and still refused to fix the offensive line.

Following the 2019 season, it wasn’t long before news came down that Rivers would not be in Los Angeles come 2020. On Tuesday, Rivers signed a one-year contract with the Indianapolis Colts. It only took him, leaving Los Angeles to play behind a great offensive line finally. How 2020 will play out for Rivers is unknown, but at least he finally can trust the men protecting him.

Making a change and addressing the offensive line

The Chargers have spent the last week bolstering their offensive line. It began with Los Angeles trading Okung to the Carolina Panthers for right guard Trai Turner. It was a trade that was one-sided, ending up in the Chargers’ favor. By offloading Okung, 32, the Chargers get a better, younger right guard and save $5 million in the process. Turner will turn 27 before the start of the regular season, has started 80 of 84 games he has played since being drafted by the Panthers in 2014.

Telesco went a step further on Tuesday, signing Green Bay Packers right tackle Bryan Bulaga. An underrated tackle, Bulaga is a massive upgrade for the Chargers. While Bulaga has suffered numerous injuries of his own, he played all 16 games in 2019. Since suffering an ACL tear in Week 9 of the 2017 season, Bulaga has played 30 of 32 games. His 2019 production showed that he hadn’t shown signs of regression despite being in the tail end of his career turning 31 in a few days.

Bulaga has exceptionally smooth footwork to get into his pass sets. He also displays outstanding hand techniques. Combine that with his ability to quickly process what the defense is trying to do and combat it, and you have yourself a top offensive tackle. Even against several elite pass rushers in 2019, Bulaga demonstrated why he is still one of the best in the game.

Could the Los Angeles Chargers add even more to the offensive line?

There’s still time for the Los Angeles Chargers to make moves as Free Agency officially starts today. Even without making another move along the offensive line in free agency, the unit has taken a massive step forward. Los Angeles has set itself up with the ability to address the left tackle position to turn things around at pick five overall completely. Or they could select the quarterback of the future and still have a better offensive line unit than Rivers has played behind in the last decade. Regardless, it’s likely that the team will address the other tackle position at some point in the draft.

Several offensive tackles look to be promising NFL talents. The Los Angeles Chargers could grab their quarterback and follow that up with a tackle in the second round.

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