Can the Los Angeles Chargers win the Super Bowl if their starting left tackle is out for an extended period of time?
Make no mistake, the Chargers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender this coming season but before the season even starts, the last thing the team needed was a blow to its offensive line. But that’s exactly what it got.
Russell Okung was forced to miss the team’s mandatory minicamp due to an undisclosed injury and now there is talk that he might not be ready for training camp. Undisclosed injury is something no Chargers fan wants to hear, especially after what was thought to be a minor injury for Joey Bosa last year caused him to miss more than half the season.
The Chargers simply don’t have an adequate replacement on the roster for Okung and at this point, would have to pull some strings to get one. So what if this injury does turn into something serious? Can the Chargers still reach their ultimate goal?
The optimist is still going to answer that question with a resounding yes, but what does the realist say?
The Chargers were embarrassed by the New England Patriots in the playoffs last season and perhaps the main reason for that loss was the play of the offensive line. Though the Patriots ended up with only two sacks, it seemed that Philip Rivers was under pressure every single time he dropped back. He attempted 51 passes in that game and completed just 25. The amount of pressure is the reason for that.
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When you have a quarterback that isn’t mobile, the passing game is predicated on timing. The Patriots were able to throw the Chargers’ timing off, and the game was pretty much over.
In watching that game back, you will see that Sam Tevi, the team’s right tackle, was clearly the weak link in the chain. In fairness to him, no one played great, but he was overmatched. The idea of moving him to left tackle, which will happen if Okung can’t play, is far from ideal.
That would bring in a guy like Trent Scott as the new starter at right tackle and suddenly, a unit that is shaky even with Okung, becomes a complete liability. NFL teams are able to hide small deficiencies, but the offensive line needs to be a strength if you are going to contend for a Super Bowl.
Obviously, the team is likely looking into all options in the event that Okung will miss a significant amount of time but if the Chargers go forth with Tevi and Scott at the tackle spots (or really any combination of Tevi and another player), this season could fall far short of expectations.