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New Chargers, New Offensive Line (& the TOMMY-LAMA)

By James Fedewa

San Diego solidified their offensive line by signing another left tackle, 31 year old Max Starks. Starks was drafted in the 3rd round, played for the Pittsburgh Steelers for the last 9 years and is a nice upgrade. The Charges other new left tackle, 27 year old King Dunlap, who played in Philadelphia the last 5 seasons. Thank you Pennsylvania. Both Starks and Dunlap are not pro-bowlers nor all-pro caliber left tackles, but both are above average professionals and will be a huge upgrade over last seasons Harris, Haslem and Gaither revolving left-tackle door.

Starks (6’-8” 345 lbs.) and Dunlap (6’-9” 330 lbs.) are massive new additions by pure size alone, not to mention the Chargers first round pick D.J. Fluker (6’-5” 340 lbs.) is set to start at right tackle. Three new tackle additions equal 1015 lbs., so San Diego has chosen to go big in 2013 and could be the biggest and tallest in the NFL.

The Chargers also added two new guards: 28 year old Chad Rinehart (an up and coming blue-collar talent) drafted in the third round, and 27 year old Rich Ohrnberger guard/center (the class clown) was drafted in the fourth round. Chargers 2012 rookie guard Johnnie Troutman will be given a shot at a starting role, and good ole’ Chargers right tackle Jeromey Clary will be moving to right guard from right tackle (for the moment). Centers Nick Hardwick and David Molk make a formidable 1,2 punch, with Colin Baxter still hanging around fighting too. Brandyn Dombrowski can play anywhere on the line, and last years starting left tackle Michael Harris has consigned some quality reps against formidable foes last season, which should only make him better in the future.

For the first time in over two years, the San Diego offensive line starters and depth look very promising and satisfying on paper. Since Marcus McNeil and Chris Dielman’s sudden retirements (and injuries) in 2011, San Diego has improved with pure size and talent this off season. But what made the Chargers offensive line productive in 2010 and years prior was their continuity. They played well together for a long time. Offensive linemen are the core of a good offense. They control the run, they control the pass protection, they control the tempo and (from what we have seen by Rivers the past two seasons) they help copilot a quarterback. Playing together for several years build this continuity and stability (even with a lack of talent). Playing together, in repetition is better than five first round pro-bowl linemen playing together for the first time. But talent is a solid foundation for the Chargers to build on and good coaching should bring this all together in San Diego, especially with the new offensive line coach Joe D’alessandris (one of the best in the business).

This new Chargers O-Line, with new players, new design, new scheme, with positional changes and new coaches, it is actually designed to succeed now, and with very little money and terms invested. A team weakness now looks like a team strength. Call it a Perfect Storm or a Stepping Stone to the future, new Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco has been very pleasing to watch direct and build this new team, especially in what very little salary cap he has to work, lack of talent that was inherited, and the first round of an odd draft that was dealt to him. The 40 year old GM has done well (young grasshopper). Tom Telesco still needs his new nickname, yet everything is still theoretical until some games are actually played, but I’ll start one: The Tommy Lama

 

Topics: Chad Rinehart, DJ Fluker, Jeromey Clary, King Dunlap, Max Starks, Nick Hardwick, San Diego Chargers, Tom Telesco

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  • Gunnar Martin

    Okay… Tommy Lama… I guess I could roll with that. Will still use TT and Kid Dynamite, too haha.

    • Stefanie Smith

      Kid Dynamite–yeah, good one.

    • jamfed

      HA! I like TT and Kid Dynamite too! Would he keep that for the next ten years?

      • Gunnar Martin

        Hope so. They’re simple enough to stick, and kind of catchy. I’ll definitely be calling him that.

  • Ioane

    The Tommy-nater

    • Stefanie Smith

      I like Tominater or aTOMic Bomb.

  • Ioane

    Tominater, Tom terrific,

    • MC Boltman

      Tom Terrific also had been my first idea :) But Tom Triumphant should do it too :) … maybe also Tom Tremendous

    • RussinSactown

      Tominator almost works like Dominator which is what he looks like he’s going to do to the AFC West.

  • http://www.BoltBeat.com/ Peter Thompson

    His performance has been Tomtastic, for sure.

    • Stefanie Smith

      Good one.

  • FitzWilly

    aTOMic Bomb

  • Stefanie Smith

    Man, all of these names are good.

  • FitzWilly

    Doogie Charger GM :)

    • jamfed

      Great… hahaha

  • jamfed

    TNT (and he already has a them song / with a Trevor Hoffman twist)

  • Cgoodness13

    Thought we were calling him “the real McCoy”?! Never mind we’re talking telesco lol my bad

  • Patoriku

    Let’s call him Tommy Two Fingers, because he’ll need two fingers to put the two Superbowl rings he is going to direct. Called it!

  • jamfed

    “Do you know what the Tommy Lama says? Gunga galunga… gunga, gunga-galunga… So I got that goin’ for me, which is nice.”

    • jamfed

      (Caddy Shack reference)

  • Alter Ego

    Great piece James. Tommy Lama fits. It’s the most original and has that all knowing aura about it. Come up with a clever nick name for the O line. Big Foot seems to have migrated to SD – proof he lives. We got a whole friggin herd of sasquatches.

  • Rob Base

    How bout Tommy Gun Telesco? Hits his target every time.

    Telescomatic bringin Bolts to cause havoc!

  • NativeSanDiegan

    Let’s see. I called him TT way back when there were so many vocal dissenters that needed educating on” build through the draft and fill holes with FA”. They were understandably upset with watching so many veterans leave. Using TT was easy to type on my phone and has a ring to it. I’ll keep using that also, but Tommy Lama is kind of growing on me in sort of a soothing, calming way with the element of really knowing and understanding of what’s really going on. However, Tommy Lama doesn’t seem to have the right “feel” to it for me, but it’s a great starting point IMO

  • MC Boltman

    He´s our Telecommander – we´ll follow him to anywhere he might navigate the Bolt ship!

  • joerockt

    Love it. Really hope though that we can have these same comments this time next year. But for right now, this is the most enjoyable offseason I’ve seen in a really long time. MM now has all of the pieces in place to be successful. Him and Wiz should be able to come up with some good game planning. I would like to see more play action (Norf didn’t use it enough), I formations (just like loneal and LT), 3 step drops to Allen and Mecham, Trips formation with WR screens, etc. Keep Rivers out of situations where he thinks he’s forced to do something. And for god sakes, get it in his head he’s allowed to THROW THE DAMN BALL AWAY.

  • Nick in PB

    Tommy Lama… I like it but it kind of reminds me of Tommy Bahama and that reminds me of AJ and his wardrobe!

    • jamfed

      I didn’t even think of it that way. AND i wore a Hawaiian Shirt yesterday too… (I still like AJ Smith too. Before he got to SD, the Chargers were terrible – AJ brought winning players, but injuries hurt him the most)

      • Nick in PB

        Good point National F! I never really hated AJ the way a lot of people here did. I agree, injuries played a major part of his drafting failures. As did a couple of really poor years. That said, it was time for hm to go and I’m excited to have Tommy TT Lama TNT here. Go Bolts!

        • NativeSanDiegan

          AJ was so insecure that he went overboard trying to compensate for it (& yes, I am a professional, well educated counselor). He couldn’t work with Marty Shottenheimer probably because he felt inferior to him. Marty was a highly respected professional who was used to working WITH his staff and the front office (the way TT is doing right now with MM). AJ also made up his own rules as he went along. Two cases in point: 1) With an already established, and hardworking qb with great awareness, pocket presence, extremely accurate, and who stands in the pocket & takes the hit while delivering a perfect strike downfield; and improving game-to-game & season to season BUT is rehabbing from a serious shoulder injury (Drew Brees); and the Chargers having a promising but unproven young qb on the roster (Philip Rivers). Drew was a free agent but wanted to stay in San Diego and would have signed a low (home discount) with health/ durability and performance incentives which would protect the team. The Chargers had the cap space to re-sign Drew with no risk. Marty wanted to sign Drew and keep Philip on the roster as well. That way if Drew was somehow unable to return to form they could turn to Philip and lose a minimal amount of $. However, if Drew did return to form the Chargers would have a proven Championship level leader already in place. Marty wanted to sign Drew and also keep Philip. If Drew recovered they could have traded Philip for at least a high #1 & a 2 or 3. AJ was so defensive that he couldn’t “give in” to Marty and so egotistical that he couldn’t risk trading away his qb who he’d so shrewdly gotten with Merriman in his most grandiose move ever. He was blinded by his own ego to the fact that it would make that prior trade even more productive. Also possibly influenced by the numbers-the height difference. Case #2: Making up rules as he went along. Marty lost his OC to another team as their HC. Marty wanted to hire his own son to fill the spot. That’s when AJ came up with his “rule” that no one can hire their family members. Funny how the rule changed with the Spanos kids. He also let very good players go for nothing, and so when we’d finally fill one hole he would create a new one or three. Hence we never had a complete starting lineup much less any depth. Injuries happen in the NFL and without depth you really can’t compete for the Championship.

      • NativeSanDiegan

        Nothing wrong with an Aloha shirt (as we call them here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean); as long as you wear them with Aloha and a smile(& not a 100yr. old scowl of vengeance, anger, and egomaniacal hatred towards anyone who ever dares to have an opinion different from yours). Aloha my San Diego brethren. There is much that I miss in my homeland, not the least of which is attending a Chargers game.

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