Offensive lineman King Dunlap joined the Chargers via free agency during the 2013 offseason.
After missing five games during his debut season with San Diego, Dunlap went on to play in and start all 16 games of the 2014 season, earning him a new four-year, $28 million deal with the organization during the 2015 offseason. The now 31-year-old was also awarded the team’s Offensive Lineman of the Year Award for his work during the 2014 campaign.
Then comes the 2015 season.
Due to various injuries and ailments, including concussion problems, Dunlap only suited up for seven games in ’15, leaving the starting left tackle spot to be manned by players such as Tyreek Burwell and Chris Hairston, to name a couple.
The hope around Chargers Park was that the nine-year veteran would rebound health-wise and come into the 2016 season will a clean bill of health.
Everything seemed fine for Dunlap, that is until the day of their Week 3 contest against the Indianapolis Colts.
Reports from the team came out that Dunlap was suffering from an “illness” of some sort, relating, to at least some degree, to migraines.
Dunlap missed the Week 3 loss against the Colts and he would go on to miss the Week 4 loss to the Saints, too.
The Chargers have gone on the record stating that Dunlap’s illness issues do not have anything to do with a concussion, something that he has dealt with throughout portions of his football career.
When the Bolts released their Wednesday practice participation report, Dunlap was listed as a limited participant, meaning he probably did some stretching and individual work but did not participate in many, if any, team drills.
Last week against the Saints, the Chargers moved Joe Barksdale over to left tackle and shuffled around other portions of the offensive line, as well.
The team has also used Chris Hairston at left tackle in the absence of Dunlap.
It is very difficult to say when one should expect Dunlap to return to field. The Bolts, as usual, have been very tight-lipped on the issue, so it is safe to say that no one truly has any idea when King will be back on the gridiron.
Needless to say, we all hope he returns sooner rather than later.
Dave Booga Peters
If you were to look up the word “dreadful” in the dictionary, this is what you might find:
- causing or involving great suffering, fear, or unhappiness; extremely bad or serious.
“The San Diego Chargers’ running game has been dreadful over the past two years.”
In 2012, Philip Rivers was sacked 49 times, which was the 4th worst in the NFL. In that same year, the Bolts’ running backs combined for a dismal 3.6 yards per attempt — tied for 2nd worst — totaling 1,461 rushing yards and ranking them 27th out of 32 teams.
Change was needed to right the ship
Signing head coach Mike McCoy and offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt gave Charger faithful something to look forward to; because let’s be honest, it could not get any worse.
With “The Wiz” working on Philip’s quick release and utilizing a fullback to pave way for the running game, things turned around nicely for the team from America’s finest city.
In 2013, Rivers was sacked only 30 times — 4th best in the NFL — and the running game amassed 1,965 total yards (13th best) with an average of four yards per carry. The three-year playoff drought had ended as San Diego went to the AFC Divisional Game, losing to the eventual AFC Champion Denver Broncos.
After Whisenhunt left to become the head coach for the Tennessee Titans in 2014, Frank Reich was promoted to take over the reins and continue improving the offense. As the 2014-15 season began to sink deep down into an abyss filled with injuries and blame, it was not a shock to see the final results. San Diego totaled only 1,367 total rushing yards, averaging only 3.4 yards per attempt.
The one shining star to emerge out of the 2014 season was an undrafted free agent named Branden Oliver.
The diehard fans remember him well when in Week 5 he ran all over the then No. 1 ranked rush defense of the New York Jets. Getting his chance due to injuries, Bo ran with quickness, tenacity and a toughness that the Chargers’ backfield had not seen in some time.
With Danny Woodhead back from injury for the 2015 season and the Chargers’ first-round draft pick of Melvin Gordon, the optimism of the running game spilled out of the mouths of the devoted. And with the overwhelming hope of anew, the ship was back on track.
Or….so people thought.
Watching the worst rushing attack in the NFL for the 2015 season come out of San Diego seemed synonymous to Thomas Andrews being aboard his mighty Titanic as it sank to the bottom of the ocean.
There were no words.
An inexplicable disappointment, the 4-12 Chargers needed another change. With talks of moving the team out of San Diego, righting the ship was more important than ever.
“Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”
- John F. Kennedy
With Whisnehunt back in charge of the offense, things again seem promising. He was the last to utilize a fullback when the Chargers had Le’Ron McClain. Now, added via the sixth round of this year’s NFL draft, fullback Derek Watt adorns the lightning bolt dome. The hiring of Jeff Davidson, whose resume is quite impressive, should spring some new life into the veteran offensive linemen on the roster.
It is unknown how Watt will be used or how well Coach Davidson will adjust going from the NFC to the AFC, but make no mistake about it, there is hope in the Chargers’ backfield. Gordon is out to prove his touchdown-less campaign was a fluke. Woodhead is out to prove he is always a legitimate threat on every down. Oliver, who has yet to fumble the ball in 191 carries, is out to prove that he can excel in any role.
On paper, the ship seems to have been righted in the proper direction.
And it’s destination……Houston?
Thanks for reading.
Brian “Big Kahuna” Scott
The Chargers announced Thursday that Jeff Davidson has been named the team’s offensive line coach.
The coaching position has been vacant since the club relieved former offensive line coach Joe D’Alessandris from his duties.
Davidson has spent the last five seasons in the same position with the Minnesota Vikings. He also spent time with head coach Mike McCoy when they were both with the Carolina Panthers.
The Chargers’ offensive line struggled mightily at providing holes in the running game in 2015, and hopefully, coming from the Vikings who feature league-rushing champion Adrian Peterson, Davidson can help get the ground game back on track.
Helping running back Melvin Gordon gain confidence — and yards on the ground — should be one of the top focuses of the upcoming offseason for the Bolts. After naming Ken Whisenhunt as the team’s offensive coordinator, the addition of Davidson seems to show that they are taking steps in that direction.