Chargers need bounce-back season from Bryan Bulaga in 2021

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In order for the Chargers to have a successful 2021 season, all cylinders need to be firing. That means players from last year, who either underachieved or missed some time due to an injury need to step it up this fall.

Among the few who need to have a bounce-back season is veteran offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga.

Arguably the biggest free agent acquisition last offseason was the signing of Bulaga, who inked a three-year deal. Bulaga was expected to be the heart and soul on a fairly inexperienced offensive line, but instead, he spent the majority of the season on the sidelines.

Bulaga made 10 starts, but he only played 37.87% of the offensive snaps. Without him, the Chargers were forced to play backups Trey Pipkins and Storm Norton, leading to a disastrous outcome up front, especially on the right side where guard Trai Turner was exploited.

On the year, Bulaga earned a Pro Football Focus grade of 66.1, which marked a career-low.

Heading into the new season, Bulaga will be playing next to better players after general manager Tom Telesco upgraded each spot on the line this offseason with Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler, Oday Aboushi and rookie Rashawn Slater, but ensuring his durability is essential.

The talent of Bulaga is there, but his injury history is concerning. If he’s unable to stay on the field, the team will be forced to shuffle the group, likely shifting Matt Feiler from left guard to right tackle and plugging rookie Brenden Jaimes at LG, or playing Pipkins or Norton at RT.

During his rookie campaign, quarterback Justin Herbert excelled under pressure. While there’s no denying Herbert could perform under the same circumstances, continuity upfront could ultimately determine how far the Chargers can go this season.