Overreaction #1: The LA Chargers offensive line is in trouble
Let’s start with the offensive line because there’s a lot to unpack there. One of the main reasons the Chargers lost tonight was that the offensive line was horrendous.
I’m not positive of the exact numbers, but right now I’m guessing they gave up at least 20 pressures tonight. Herbert was under constant fire, and the majority of those problems stem from their inability to pick up blitzes at a high level.
The Chargers took a lot of heat for not drafting an offensive lineman this past April, now that is coming to fruition. They brought in Trai Turner via trade and Bryan Bulaga via free agency, and then obviously hired James Campen to sure things up. Hiring Campen was absolutely the right move. He’s had an instrumental hand in developing these players. As for the other two, that remains to be seen.
The sad reality is that Bulaga and Turner have played one drive together in 2020. Turner has only played in one game together, and Bulaga left that game after the first drive. The team misses each of them very badly, but particularly Bulaga. The Chargers have really struggled to run the ball since he’s been out and that is not a coincidence.
Before week five finished, Bulaga was number one in the league in terms of run blocking win rate. Turner did not have a good game at all against the Kansas City Chiefs, but Chris Jones has that effect on people, so I’m willing to give him a mulligan for that performance.
The Chargers desperately need these two to come out of the bye week healthy. Otherwise, it’s going to be more of the same. The main problem here comes back to the draft. Bulaga came to the Chargers with a rather lengthy injury history. As did Turner.
You can throw Mike Pouncey into that mix too. Instead of investing in some new blood to provide depth, the Chargers figured that a former Division II prospect, a former XFL lineman, a former CFL lineman and a journeyman center/guard were fine backups behind those guys.
Now up until today, Sam Tevi had actually been good – allowing only six pressures and no sacks in the first four games. Sadly, the 2019 version of Tevi reared its ugly head tonight as well. Forrest Lamp has been the team’s best lineman and likely will play himself into a second contract for the Chargers if he can stay healthy.
Dan Feeney at center has been a mixed bag. He was fantastic in the first two weeks and then has been average at best in the three games since. We’ve gotten every version possible out of Trey Pipkins too. He was great against the Chiefs and Frank Clark, was awful against the Panthers, decent against the Buccaneers and bad tonight. Ryan Groy has been absolutely atrocious filling in for Tyree St Louis, who was filling in for Turner.
All of us want Joe Reed to be successful in this league. The problem is that the Chargers chose him over several offensive linemen that were still on the board. Nick Harris, the center/guard out of Washington was still available at that point. Netane Muti, the mauling guard out of Fresno State was available. Hakeem Adeniji, the versatile tackle out of Kansas was also on the board. Michael Onwenu was as well, and he’s been one of the draft steals for the Patriots so far.
The offensive line play is bad right now. After starting the season off well, they have put out two stinkers, and that’s affecting the play calling. Herbert has been outstanding under pressure, particularly pushing the ball down the field and to the boundaries, but as an offensive playcaller, you absolutely cannot keep putting your franchise quarterback at risk like that.
Tonight, the Chargers offensive staff were pretty selective with being aggressive, and that shows a lack of faith in the offensive line. Until Bulaga and Turner are back, these issues are likely to continue.
Verdict: Not an overreaction.