Philip Rivers is heading to paradise. And while few people would look at the city of Indianapolis as a paradise compared to the sunny skies of Southern California, life in Indiana might be especially relaxing for Rivers as he enters his age-39 season for one simple reason: The wily veteran quarterback has camped out behind one of the most porous offensive lines over the last few seasons but now gets his chance to see out his career behind a much better one.
There have been 192 team-seasons since 2014. According to our cumulative team pass-blocking efficiency metric, the Los Angeles Chargers' offensive lines have ranked 120th, 142nd, 168th, 170th, 186th and 190th — there's bad, and then there's whatever that is. And at this point, there's no doubt that the block of swiss cheese that Rivers has had to stand behind has sapped the Chargers of wins and potential playoff appearances.
[Editor's Note: PFF's advanced statistics and player grades are powered by AWS machine learning capabilities.]
Of the 224 offensive linemen who played at least 100 snaps in the 2019 regular season, three of the bottom 25 in individual pass-blocking efficiency were Chargers. Of the 136 offensive linemen who played at least 400 snaps, the Chargers had two in the bottom five. Those two players were the Chargers' starting tackles.
The Colts, on the other hand, have made a concerted effort to actually get better up front. After the ritual sacrifice of Andrew Luck to the Football Gods, the new front office tried to shore up the offensive line. The biggest move was selecting guard Quenton Nelson at No. 6 overall in the 2018 NFL Draft, while they also added Braden Smith at No. 37 overall the same draft.
The Colts' offensive line went from 30th in pass-blocking efficiency in 2017 all the way up to sixth in 2018. They fell a bit to 19th last season, but even that is still not even close to Chargers territory.
Indy's left-side combo of Anthony Castonzo at tackle and Nelson at guard is as good as any combo in football. Center Ryan Kelly made the Pro Bowl last season after grading above 70.0 as both a pass-blocker and a run-blocker, and he looks to be ascending. And if they can continue to get plus play out of Braden Smith at right tackle, the Colts will be very stout.