It is really no secret that the 2015 season for the San Diego Chargers was a disaster. Anything that could go wrong, pretty much did. Injuries hit the team hard as Keenan Allen, Melvin Gordon, Manti Te’o, Jason Verrett, Kyle Emanuel, Jeremiah Attaochu, Brandon Flowers, Eric Weddle, Steven Johnson and Malcom Floyd all missed playing time. Those injuries alone would devastate a team, but the Chargers also had crippling injuries on the offensive line.
King Dunlap, D.J. Fluker, Orlando Franklin and Chris Watt all missed games. When four out of your five starters on the O-line go down with injury, it was an absolute miracle that Philip Rivers did not get hurt. He was roughed up on many occasions as the play from the line seemed to get worse and worse every week. Joe Barksdale, Chris Hairston, Trevor Robinson and Kenny Wiggins filled in, but were obviously over-matched. That should not be an issue this coming season.
The Chargers had many goals to improve the team, and one of the biggest was to address the offensive line issues and gain some more depth. The team did just that in the draft as they used two picks on Max Tuerk and Donovan Clark. Both rookies will help create depth at the position for the Chargers. However one single addition on the line might prove to be the biggest single addition of the offseason.
Matt Saluson had an edge to him. He plays the game with a chip on his shoulder and he has great intensity on the field. Last season there were are few times when the opposing teams defense man-handled Philip Rivers after the whistles blew. That would not happen on Slausons’ watch. He would not put up with that. That type of play earns great respect among your teammates and it has been reported that Slauson has already fit in great in the locker room.
He and Philip Rivers have bonded early despite never meeting each other before. Danny Woodhead had played with Slauson and told Rivers that he and the new lineman would be great friends. After their first interaction with each other Rivers was deeply impressed and was on local radio talking about the new lineman. He praised him for his work ethic and the fact he wants to lead right away. With an already established veteran offensive line it is great that Slauson has stepped in enthusiastically. He looks to be the starter at center, but also has experience at both guard positions. Tuerk could emerge at center but that does not seem likely at this point.
The chemistry he has built already with Rivers is an exciting thing to see. Not that the line and Rivers have had issues, but Rivers has needed a rock at center since the departure of Nick Hardwick. The relationship with your center is vital for a cohesive offensive line. The center must communicate with the whole line while at the same time taking orders from the QB. The verbiage and scenarios of game play is what Slauson will need help on, but he has embraced the challenge and you can be sure he will be ready when game day comes.
The addition of Slauson will be huge for the Chargers production in 2016. Brandon Mebane and Travis Benjamin were huge pickups as well, but the interior line needed to be solidified and the big center will certainly do that. Look for him to display his leadership abilities immediately on game day. He is described as a workhorse and a “gamer”. He will put in his best effort and you will never question his desire to succeed. Matt Slauson will be huge for the Bolts this season, just you wait and see.