Could the Bolts offense have some holes?


Well-Known Member
Jan 22, 2006
Reaction score
Could the Bolts offense have some holes?

By: JAY PARIS - Staff Writer

SAN DIEGO -- The Chargers' offense was among the league's most efficient last year. Thanks to a balanced attack, the Chargers torpedoed the Marty Ball repetition coach Marty Schottenheimer had embraced since his days at Cleveland in the mid-1980s.

Behind the remarkable versatility of LaDainian Tomlinson (1,462 rushing yards), the reliable hands of tight end Antonio Gates (1,078 receiving yards) and the heady play of quarterback Drew Brees (career-high 3,576 passing yards), the unit finished with 418 points, fifth-best in the NFL.

For only the second time in team history (1981) the squad produced a 1,000-yard rusher, 1,000-yard receiver and a 3,500-yard passer.

Overall, the offense was ranked No. 10 for the second straight year. Not since 1984-85 had the team delivered consecutive top 10 rankings.

Still, the unit has its share of questions and dilemmas. And they're easier to find than a discounted house fan at the local Wal-Mart.

The uncertainties, of course, begin at the quarterback position where Philip Rivers takes over for Brees. But there's more:

> Rivers and Co.: Rivers is just part of it. Although how quickly he shakes off the first-year starting blues is paramount. But it's no lock that Rivers ---ñ if earning the starting job ---ñ stays fit for all 16 games; Brees didn't last year.

While much of the concern is over Rivers' indoctrination, how about what's behind him? Backup A.J. Feeley hasn't started since 2004 and is 7-6 in his career. Charlie Whitehurst, at No. 3, is a rookie.

> LaDainian Tomlinson: A question here? Not really, although something must be addressed. With the Chargers easing Rivers into his role, most speculate Tomlinson will be leaned on even more.

Can Tomlinson handle the extra carries and receptions? Can his body take the additional hits and punishment? The last two years, Tomlinson was spent at season's end. Last year, it was a cracked rib; the year before, a groin injury.

In '05, Tomlinson had but five 100-yard rushing games, his lowest total in a season since his rookie year.

Tomlinson is set for another sensational and Pro Bowl year. But the Chargers must not be greedy by taxing his body before the stretch run.

> Offensive line: The Chargers were so down on this unit they fired line coach Carl Mauck after the '05 season. The biggest head-scratcher is at left tackle, where the Chargers pray veteran LT Roman Oben can rebound from two foot surgeries. When he exited last year, Leander Jordan was mediocre and the entire line seemed to miss Oben's presence. Shane Olivea, the opposite tackle, must bounce back from a so-so second half. The interior ñ--- guards Mike Goff and Kris Dielman and center Nick Hardwick ---ñ also have to elevate their games.

> Receivers: Keenan McCardell is nearly 37, but is still productive. Will he wake up old one day this year? Not likely, considering how he works. Still, the birth certificate doesn't lie. Eric Parker is a reliable No. 2, but it's the rest of the unit which is a mystery. Vincent Jackson, a Division I-A product, has yet to prove he can play in the NFL. Kassim Osgood's hands have yet to match his blocking skills. Rashaun Woods, acquired from the 49ers, was a bust in San Francisco.

> Tight ends not named Gates: The Chargers brought in two blockers masqueraded as tight ends. With All-Pro Antonio Gates setting the NFL gold mark, the team doesn't need pass-catchers here. So Aaron Shea and Brandon Manumaleuna, nearly 540 pounds of muscle, were snagged. They could aid the offensive line by supplying help on the edges. They'll have to, as defenses figure to crowd the offensive line, begging for Rivers to throw the ball.

CHARGERS NOTES: CB Antonio Cromartie went through his first practices on Wednesday after signing his five-year, $12.75 million contract on Tuesday. "This is something I've always dreamed about, playing in the NFL,'' said Cromartie, the team's top pick. "And along with it comes the money.'' Cromartie will lose a chunk of his coin after the veterans report on Friday. It's a Chargers tradition that the first-round pick takes his teammates out for dinner and drinks. Last year, LB Shawne Merriman picked up a $32,000 tab at an expensive restaurant. In 2004, Rivers got stuck with a $25,000 bill. Ö When most spot second-round pick Marcus McNeill, they marvel at everything but his feet: he stands 6-foot-7, 336 pounds. But coach Marty Schottenheimer marvels at the left tackle's foot speed. "He's got good foot agility,'' he said. Ö The rookies and select veterans work at 10:30 this morning. Ö There are no workouts Friday, the day the veterans arrive. The first full-squad practice is 8:30 a.m. Saturday at Chargers Park. The public is welcome.

-- Contact staff writer Jay Paris at [email protected].

CHARGERS CHART: Five offensive uncertainties

> 1. Quarterbacks: The team's three have a total of seven starting victories.

> 2. Running game: Tomlinson handling a heavier load.

> 3. Offensive line: Is working under its third coach in three seasons.

> 4. Receivers: Keenan McCardell was in the NFL before Rivers was a teenager.

> 5. Tight ends: Not Antonio Gates, but what about the new ones?
This thread has been closed due to inactivity. You can create a new thread to discuss this topic.