The Chargers have not come close to hitting preseason expectations on the offensive side of the football, and the offensive line's performance play is a big reason. The way we hear it, it has become apparent that the O-line misses Kris Dielman, the four-time Pro Bowl left guard who retired after last season. The protection has been an issue this season — QB Philip Rivers has been sacked 22 times in nine games, which sets him on pace for a career high in that category. One daily team observer pointed out that Rivers has not seemed as comfortable stepping up in the pocket because of penetration up the middle by opposing defenses.
The sacks, though, have mainly come from the edges. OLT Jared Gaither has not been 100 percent all season, and in his four games he has four penalties and has allowed four sacks. We're told the time off for Gaither should make a big difference if he can return to the field at full health. Gaither’s replacement, undrafted rookie Mike Harris, looked fine at the start of the season but has struggled of late. The problems on the left side have kept the Chargers from running with success as well — they gained 5.64 yards per carry off left tackle last season and on 33 plays in that direction this season, they’re gaining only 2.94 yards per carry.
Rivers, who has 12 interceptions, isn’t helping the cause with poor decision making that has led to some of the turnovers, but the O-line has not been nearly as strong. The Chargers have found serviceable road graders later in drafts, but it’s noteworthy that the team has not drafted an O-lineman in one of the first two rounds since Marcus McNeill in 2006.