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Chargers shuffled offensive line is better than you think

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NFL: Denver Broncos at Los Angeles Chargers Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

When the Jacksonville Jaguars take on the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday, most seem to think the defensive line is going to overwhelm the Chargers and take advantage of an immobile Phillip Rivers.

While there is some truth to that belief, it needs to be mentioned that the Chargers offensive line is probably a lot better than you think it is. It’s a line that’s been shuffled around and a lot of new bodies, but so far has been pretty good. The Chargers have only allowed 11 sacks so far this year, which gives them the eighth best adjusted sack rate, per Football Outsiders.

The Chargers are well aware of what they’ll be up against on Sunday too, as rookie guard Dan Feeney and first year center Kenny Wiggins know the kind of havoc that veteran Calais Campbell has been creating this year.

“He moves around a lot and does a good job of trying to get mismatches, so we’ll have to watch his tendencies and game-plan for him,” Feeney told reporters on Wednesday after practice. “We definitely have our work cut out for us. They’re big, strong and physical. It will be a good trench game, for sure.”

The Chargers will need to be precise in their execution, keep the chains moving, and minimize third-and-long plays.

The real key for the Chargers offensive line will be if they can keep themselves out of third and long situations, which usually spells bad news against the Jaguars. The Jaguars currently are the best in the NFL in third and long situations, which has been defined as third and seven or more, allowing just a 16.7 percent conversion rate. When Jacksonville knows a team has to pass the ball, they get after it.

“We can’t let them pin their ears back and just rush us,” Wiggins told reporters about the Jaguars pass rush. “We have to have a balanced attack and protect well. Hopefully the play-action passes will slow them down, keep them guessing.”

In the few times the Jaguars defense has had issues, it’s been with teams who have been able to keep them on their heels and not in obvious passing downs. Think about the loss to the Tennessee Titans, in that the Titans were able to keep mixing up running the ball, passing and utilizing play-action passing. Because of the Jaguars defensive line’s aggressiveness and ability to penetrate in the backfield, they could potentially be susceptible to play-action.

All that being said however, the Jaguars have the talent on the defensive line to overwhelm opposing offensive lines. The addition of Marcell Dareus to the line has added another dimension and he’s already made a huge impact in his limited playing time. The Jaguars have feasted on bad offensive lines all season, as they should, but the Chargers line will be the first real challenge they’ve had since the Titans matchup.