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Linsey: The Chargers' offensive line is the most improved positional group in the NFL this offseason

Nov 15, 2020; Miami Gardens, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert (10) looks over the offensive line during the first half against the Miami Dolphins at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

No team endured worse play up front in 2020 than the Los Angeles Chargers. Not only did they finish dead last in PFF’s end-of-year offensive line rankings, but they also earned the second-lowest overall grade as a unit of any offensive line in the past five years.

Lowest PFF grade by an offensive line In Past five seasons
Team Season PFF grade for OL
Miami Dolphins 2019 47.3
Los Angeles Chargers 2020 48.8
Houston Texans 2017 51.0
Los Angeles Rams 2019 53.2
Cincinnati Bengals 2019 53.4

It wasn’t a new story for the Chargers. Their offensive line was an Achilles' heel throughout the latter stages of Philip Rivers career with the team, and things weren’t any rosier in Justin Herbert’s first season of action.

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Herbert, like Rivers, managed to overcome the blocking in front of him and find success, leading the NFL in PFF passing grade (75.4) and passer rating when under pressure (99.4). Expecting Herbert to maintain that level of play with defenders in his face would've been a mistake, though.

Luckily, the Chargers seem to recognize that.

Los Angeles began its offseason revamp of the offensive line by adding Corey Linsley, Matt Feiler and Oday Aboushi in free agency. Linsley has been a steady presence along the Green Bay Packers offensive line for years, but he was a bit more than that for the team in 2020. He finished last season as PFF’s highest-graded center (86.4 overall).

Blocks in the run game, like on the play above, helped propel Linsley to that position-high grade. He also notched a position-best 1.0% pressure rate allowed, rarely allowing quick pressure up the middle while protecting Aaron Rodgers throughout his MVP campaign. The Chargers couldn’t have found a better replacement at center for the retiring Mike Pouncey, who missed the 2020 season with a hip injury, than Linsley this offseason.

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