Chargers notebook: Offensive line, Austin Ekeler’s usage, playcalling

By Jason Balliet II
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 20: Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers signals at the line of scrimmage during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Chargers 23-20. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - OCTOBER 20: Philip Rivers #17 of the Los Angeles Chargers signals at the line of scrimmage during a game against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium on October 20, 2019 in Nashville, Tennessee. The Titans defeated the Chargers 23-20. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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SEATTLE, WA – NOVEMBER 04: Brandon Mebane #92 and Russell Okung #76 of the Los Angeles Chargers head off the field following the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on November 4, 2018, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WA – NOVEMBER 04: Brandon Mebane #92 and Russell Okung #76 of the Los Angeles Chargers head off the field following the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on November 4, 2018, in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images) /

Will the Chargers’ offensive line truly improve with Okung’s return?

This is a no brainer. Absolutely. Okung being back will help Dan Feeney. With less pressure on Feeney’s plate, Feeney will perform better, leading to Quessenberry’s left side being stable, which will help Michael Schofield to focus on his side. You get the point.

Okung not only brings stability, but he also brings knowledge, awareness, and instinct to the offensive line. The Chargers have struggled to pick up the blitz with Mike Pouncey out, so having Okung there to communicate with the line will help a tremendous amount. Then you have the ability to rotate Trent Scott and Sam Tevi on the right side in the case that one is struggling, and it will give the Chargers some versatility to have a swing tackle, whether it be Scott or Tevi, moving between the right and left side of the line.

Now, the most important part, Philip Rivers has been seeing a lot of phantom pressure this season. There have been a couple of games where Scott has been an above-average presence on that left side, in fact, over a stretch of a game, Scott will look fantastic overall. However, Scott has a tendency to fall into a bad tendency to overcompensate based on a prior defensive move, then will get beat to the opposite side that he overcompensates. It’s why you’ll see Scott fail for two, three reps in a row, and then he looks fine for the rest of the game.

So, with Okung in there, it is less that Okung is better, even though he is. It is more that Rivers will have the confidence to hang in the pocket again. Hopefully, this means there is no more phantom pressure for Rivers. Hopefully, this allows him to hang in there, take the hits, and deliver throws down the field.

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