Bolts Notebook: 12/1

Is Vincent Jackson a playmaker San Diego can build around on offense? What will the new mash-up of the offensive line look like? Will Chargers fans look at the Jacksonville sideline and feel envy on Monday night? These answers in the latest Bolts Notebook.

All or Nothing

It's tough to grade Vincent Jackson's performance this season.

In the plus column, he is on pace for 1,200 yards and 10 touchdowns, which would both be career-highs. He has played in every game despite battling a groin injury, displaying a toughness lacking in running mate Malcom Floyd. Additionally, there is the big-play potential, as evidenced by his 18.8 yards per catch and his three games with more than 140 receiving yards.

On the flip side, he's been limited to three or fewer catches in seven of 11 games. He has been held under 35 receiving yards five times, something that only happened four times in the 2008 and 2009 seasons combined. That inconsistency is killing him as he heads into yet another contract year.

Jackson's productivity is probably not high enough to convince the Chargers to pay him $10 million per year on a long-term deal. Nor is it low enough to prompt the Chargers to let him walk. Given that he has kept his nose clean away from the field, another dance with the franchise tag may be coming down the pike.

More Moving Parts

To say San Diego's offensive line is in a state of flux would be an understatement.

The team placed Pro Bowl left tackle Marcus McNeill on injured-reserve Wednesday with a neck injury. He joins fellow Pro Bowler Kris Dielman and versatile backup Scott Mruczkowski in the "see you in 2012" club.

San Diego claimed former Raven and Chief Jared Gaither off waivers to replace McNeill. While Brandyn Dombrowski will still start at left tackle, health permitting, Gaither will now get a five-week audition to show he should be in the mix for 2012, when the offensive line may undergo a major overhaul.

The auditions may be over for Steve Schilling and Tony Moll, as Tyronne Green (hand) and Louis Vasquez (ankle) returned to practice Wednesday after missing the last two games. They figure to start at left guard and right guard, respectively, unless Green is needed as an emergency fill-in at left tackle.

The makeshift line was eaten alive by the Broncos. This latest reincarnation must perform better under the bright lights of Monday Night Football or the Chargers will be assured of their second non-winning season in the last three years.

Into the Crystal Ball

Who could have imagined Chargers fans would approach this week's game jealous of Jag Nation?

Jacksonville cleaned house this week, bringing in a new owner and sending out an unpopular head coach. While Chargers fans will not see the end of the Spanos regime anytime soon, they hope San Diego joins Jacksonville in the search for a new lead man. Big names are swirling, including Bill Cowher and Jeff Fisher.

It may be premature to write Turner's epitaph. Should his Chargers answer this six-game skid with a five-game winning streak, it is possible -- even likely -- San Diego would win the AFC West at 9-7. But this team has not won a game since Oct. 9 and has shown very little since then to indicate a winning streak is on the horizon.

San Diego's losing streak is the second-longest active streak in the NFL behind only the winless Colts.



What is your reaction to the Gaither pick-up? Discuss inside the message boards.




Michael Lombardo is a long-time contributor to the Scout.com network. His analysis has been published by the NFL Network, Fox Sports and MySpace Sports. He has followed the Chargers for more than 16 years and covered the team since 2003. You can see more of his updates by following him on twitter.


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