Dec 2, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers running back Ryan Mathews (24) waits to run out of the tunnel before a game against the Cincinnati Bengals at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
The other day, I wrote about the holes that the Chargers have on defense. Today, I will touch on the needs of the offense. I will be talking about the offensive line in this article.
Let’s get right to it. The Chargers offensive line was a massive revolving door of injuries and ineptitude. Talk about a mess.
It all started at the team’s first gathering of the players for mini camp. Jared Gaither pulled up lame with a full body spasm. I just got a little queasy even thinking about Gaither at all. Per Kevin Acee of UT San Diego, there is no way that Gaither will be back in 2013. I hope he’s right. Gaither’s lack of effort to even attempt to get back on the field upset a large number of players in the Charger’s locker room. I say good riddance, Big Lazy. Go be someone else’s problem.
May 29, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers tackle Jared Gaither (78) at organized team activities at Chargers Park. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee/Image of Sport-USA TODAY Sports
Our issues continued at left guard when Tyronne Green showed that he is nowhere near ready to be a starter in the NFL. I had high hopes for Green in the offseason. I was wrong. He made it very clear that he is, and might always be, a backup at best.
Oct 9, 2011; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers offensive guard Tyronne Green (69) reacts to a penalty during the fourth quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field. The Chargers defeated the Broncos 29-24. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
In talking about Gaither and Green, those are two glaring holes that will definitely need to be filled during the 2013 offseason. Unfortuantely for the Bolts, it is 2 of 3 holes on the offensive line.
Everyone’s favorite whipping boy, Jeromey Clary, had another subpar year in 2012. My fear is that we may be stuck with him for at least one more season. With the Chargers having so many holes, it may be difficult to replace 3 or 4 startes on the line. Clary may continue to be a thorn in the side of Philip Rivers and the San Diego offense.
November 18, 2012; Denver, CO, USA; San Diego Chargers tackle Jeromey Clary (66) during the first quarter against the Denver Broncos at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. Mandatory Credit: Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports
In saying that there may be a need to replace 3 or 4 spots on the offensive line, the Chargers have yet to re-sign Loius Vasquez. I attribute this to the uncertainity surrounding both A.J. Smith and Norval Turner during the 2012 campaign.
Now that the team has moved on from both men, I hope to see Vasquez locked up to a long term deal a.s.a.p. He has improved each year that he has been in the league and is close to taking the next step towards being one of the top 10 guards in the NFL.
That leaves us with the man in the middle. Prior to the 2012 season, Nick Hardwick said that he was considering retirement. Quite frankly, that scared me to death. Although he is still under contract for the 2013 season, until I hear that he is definitely coming back, I will remain a bit concerned.
Sep 16, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; Tennessee Titans defensive tackle Mike Martin (center) is blocked by San Diego Chargers center Nick Hardwick (61) and guard Louis Vasquez (65) during the second quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
With all of the afoprementioned information, it is not out of the realm of possibility that we could be looking to replace most of or all of the O-line. That may seem a bit far fetched, but I refuse to act like there are any guarantees in this business.
My guess is that we will re-sgn Vasquez, Hardwick will play in 2013, and Clary will still be the starter next year as well.
Aside from the offensive line, the Ryan Mathews experiment has come to a screeching halt. In car crash like happenings, Mathews had more broken clavicles than touchdowns in 2012. That is extremely embarrassing.
I am not suggesting that we scrap Mathews altogether. But it is clear that he is unable to shoulder the load.
Telesco and company will have the duty of finding a running back in free agency or the draft that can compliment Ryan or be groomed to replace him sonner rather than later.
It is my opinion that we are pretty much set at wide receiver. I would not be opposed to bringing in another guy, but the receiving corp looks pretty solid for 2013. The emergence of Danario Alexander was one of the few bright spots of last season. Having Alexander and Floyd as starters on the outside, a healthy Vincent Brown gives us a solid top 3 at wideout.
Dec 30, 2012; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers wide receiver Danario Alexander (84) runs in a touchdown catch while defended by Oakland Raiders free safety Matt Giordano (27) during the third quarter at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Two of the biggest disappointments in 2102 were Robert Meachem and Eddie Royal. Meachem was relegated to the bench during most of the last half of the season. Royal, when healthy, made very little impact on a consistent basis.
Because of the “real money” owed Meachem in his guaranteed signing bonus, Robert will almost defintely be around for the upcoming year. There are no definitive answers on Royal’s return to the squad despite him being under contract as well. The team had big expectations in the return game for Royal and, when healthy, did not show much of an impact there either. I know that Dan Locke, fellow BoltBeat writer, will bring up the three returns he had called back by penalties. Well, not one of those went for scores and they didn’t count. Therefore, not good enough for me.
Only time will tell on both Meachem and Royal. But I feel confident in our top three and also Michael Spurlock has a chance to come back after having some great games in his second stint with the Chargers this year. Spurlock had back to back games with returns for touchdowns. He lso proved to be a major factor in the victory over Pittsburgh. He was a very pleasant surpise. Let’s hope that the team doesn’t allow him to get away like they did earlier in 2012.
Those are the offensive issues of which I feel need addressing in the 2013 offseason. Please let me know where you would like to see some changes being made by the Chargers. I’m sure some of you may respond that you think the team should find the eventual replacement of Rivers. I don’t like any of the quarterbacks coming out in the 2013 draft to fill that void. But, I am more than happy to hear what you all have to say about that too.
Stay tuned for “Free Agent Outlook” articles where I’ll list my top 5 at positions of need for the 2013 team. Those articles will begin to come out within the next couple o days.
Thanks a lot for reading.