PFF not high on Chargers’ offensive line heading into 2018

ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 23: The Los Angeles Chargers offensive line sits on the bench as the Los Angeles Chargers take on the Dallas Cowboy at AT
ARLINGTON, TX - NOVEMBER 23: The Los Angeles Chargers offensive line sits on the bench as the Los Angeles Chargers take on the Dallas Cowboy at AT /

The Chargers’ O-line played much better in 2017, but PFF is still hesitant about this group going into the 2018 season.

I was surprised by how well the Chargers’ offensive line looked last year. By no means were they elite, but they definitely overachieved. They also stayed relatively healthy.

Even so, Pro Football Focus doesn’t have much faith in the 0-line heading into 2018. PFF’s Michael Renner put the Chargers’ offensive line towards the bottom in his recent rankings. Here’s what Renner had to say:

“There is a lot of projection here with Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp in Year 2 as well as Mike Pouncey, but it’s impossible to think things could get worse. Kenny Wiggins allowed the most pressures of any guard in the league last year (41) while Spencer Pulley allowed the most of any center (38). Simply getting those two out of the lineup has to be worth something.”

Renner had L.A.’s offensive line ranked 21st heading into the 2017 season. The unit finished 24th to end that season.

Watching the tape, fans will agree that the O-line played fairly well in 2017, especially in pass protection. Up until last season, quarterback Philip Rivers had been running for his life. They allowed just 18 sacks, the lowest sack total in the league, after allowing a combined 113 sacks from 2014-16. The unit also ranked third in Football Outsiders’ pass protection DVOA. However, run blocking was an issue. The Chargers’ running backs averaged 3.81 yards per attempt, 26th-worst in the league. They also ranked 26th in run blocking DVOA.

As we’ve seen in recent years, there’s always new faces in the starting lineup (for the line), which could be why Renner has this unit so low. Second-year pros Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp (if healthy) will take over the starting guard positions, with Feeney already having valuable experience at left guard after taking over for an injured Matt Slauson midway through last season. Meanwhile, the Chargers brought in Mike Pouncey to replace Spencer Pulley at center, a position that was arguably the weakest area on offense. They also re-signed Michael Schofield, who could fight for a starting role at right guard or right tackle.

But at the same time, the Chargers are definitely going to be better with those new faces in the lineup, which is why I would have thought they’d be a bit higher. And even though Russell Okung is on the wrong side of 30, his solid play at left tackle helped the entire line go from dreadful to acceptable in one season. The depth has gotten much better, too.

If everyone stays healthy and Melvin Gordon can get more room to run, this unit should outpeform this ranking with ease.