In the game of football, your quarterback is the general on the field guiding your offense. Their job is to coordinate and interpret what the defense is trying to do to the offensive unit. It is hardly an easy task and the best quarterbacks are often praised for their intelligence rather than their arm strength or mobility.
Philip Rivers is a prime example of such a player. He isn’t blessed with the best arm-strength and he is definitely is not quick afoot. Instead, the man relies on experience and the intangibles that could only be witnessed first-hand. He is a special QB and the San Diego Chargers are very lucky to have a franchise player like him for so long at such an important position.
With all that being said, Philip Rivers cannot do his job if he doesn’t have the proper amount of time. The quarterback must also remain pressure free for the most part and at his age the team must limit the amount of hits opposing teams take on him. Football is a rough sport. Your QB will get hit. There is absolutely nothing you can do about that. Rivers is a tough guy, he can take a hit or two a game. However, constant abuse will result in misguided judgments and “happy feet” in the pocket. We witnessed that in 2011 when Rivers was picked off 20 times. Last season, though he wasn’t picked nearly as much, he took way too many big hits.
The obvious goal is to keep Rivers from taking the pounding that he took last season. The Chargers offseason plan was to beef up the offensive line and they have successfully done so. The addition of Matt Slauson this weekend was outstanding for the Chargers. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ number five center out of 39 players qualified last season. He will be a huge upgrade over Trevor Robinson, who was thrust into the starting role last year due to an injury to Chris Watt. Slauson and Tuerk can hold down the center position and Watt can go back to playing the guard position into which he was drafted.
The starting line for the Chargers now stands D.J. Fluker, Orlando Franklin, Matt Slauson, King Dunlap and Joe Barksdale. That leaves Chris Watt, Max Tuerk, Chris Hairston, Donavon Clark, Kenny Wiggins, Tyreek Burwell, Michael Huey and Trevor Robinson all competing for roster spots. Chris Watt, Tuerk, Hairston and maybe Wiggins are all possibly assured spots on the roster. That leaves only one or two spots left for the rest.
One of the best things about Slauson is the “edge” he brings to the offensive line. At times last season Rivers was pushed and shoved after the whistle by an over zealous defense. That will not happen with Slauson on duty, that you can be assured of. He will never let a defender mishandle his QB after a whistle. The Chargers offensive line despite being so huge was very soft from time to time last season. Injuries had a lot to do with the poor effort, but you have to imagine that a healthy line and the addition of the fiery Slauson will improve the intensity of the line.
Melvin Gordon must be beaming from the recent additions to the team. Not only has the line been beefed up but the Chargers brought in his former teammate at the University of Wisconsin Derek Watt. The true fullback will help open up holes for Gordon as the Chargers need to establish the rush in order to get the most out of Rivers and the offense.
By being able to run the ball effectively the opposing teams cannot just bull-rush on Rivers and harass him constantly. Having an upright Rivers means that the offense will be running on all cylinders. A productive and effective offense results in more time possessing the ball. In dominating the time of possession, the defense will stay rested and a full circle of events will take place.
A fully productive teams that feeds and helps each unit successfully results in wins on the field. The recipe begins with keeping Philip upright and the Bolts have made the proper moves on paper. Unfortunately the game is not played on paper and the Chargers will need to stay healthy and come together as one whole complete unit in order to succeed. Kudos to Tom Telesco and the Chargers staff for addressing the teams offensive line issues. Matt Slauson is a great addition and with his arrival the team suddenly has an ample amount of depth at a position that killed them last season. Go Chargers!