Chargers Review: OG

The only spot on the San Diego Chargers offensive line to be manned by the same player who started and finished the season at the same spot was at left guard where Kelvin Garmon started all 16 games. Yet, Garmon is now headed to unrestricted free agency and Toniu Fonoti is healthy, leaving the one man who was consistently in the lineup in doubt to return the Bolts.

Kelvin Garmon was the only starter along the offensive line to stay healthy all season. Acquired for a paltry seventh round pick, the Chargers got their money out of the deal. Garmon turned in a fine run blocking performance, using short pulls to get in front of LaDainian Tomlinson. When he was forced into bigger pulls, he struggled getting out quick enough to setup the play. His constant presence was, however, a boon to the line and the Chargers used his strengths well.

With Garmon in, the Chargers chose to run his way more often than not. Even runs up the middle went over the wide bodied Garmon on the left side of the line and when they ran right it was Garmon who would seal off his side of the line. His presence enabled Tomlinson to come up with some big games.

Where Garmon struggled was in pass protection, particularly on the second level. Garmon had trouble disengaging from his first assignment and picking up blitzes or stunts. With the middle of the pocket collapsing, the Chargers quarterbacks often were scrambling outside the pocket. Awareness on their part enabled them a chance to make plays while on the move, not their strength.

Garmon enters unrestricted free agency and he does not figure to return. The main reason is the return to health of Toniu Fonoti and solid play of Phil Bogle, both projected to play a guard position next season. The Chargers will likely look for a backup with potential and Garmon is looking to start.

Phil Bogle played nine games at right guard in '03. The undrafted rookie moved inside after Bob Hallen and Solomon Page went down with injuries and he excelled.

With a little more protection on the inside, Bogle was able to limit pass rushers coming through. Cory Raymer and Jason Ball were steadying forces on the inside for Bogle and he was able to lean on them.

His adjustments to his right shoulder were not as strong. He had some trouble recognizing when a man was coming inside and he needed to slide to pick up the block.

Bogle was a bright spot on the line. Once he was placed in the lineup, he never came out. His future with the team is secure and he could very well enter the 2004 season as the starter at right guard.

Solomon Page started the year playing on the interior. His work at right guard was better than what he displayed at tackle, but it left a lot to be desired. Reuniting Page with Houck was supposed to light a fire under his rear, but Page struggled keeping defenders out of the backfield.

Bob Hallen came in and started two games at right guard before succumbing to injury. A torn pectoral muscle forced him to injured reserve.

Hallen is what he is, a backup who can come in and play spot duty. It will be tough to bring back the unrestricted free agent, but he could be back if he will accept the veteran minimum. If he is starting on any line, the Chargers are in trouble.

Michael Keathley was re-signed at the end of the year as insurance and once the continued injuries surfaced, he was forced into duty for the final two games. Keathley struggled in his first game against Pittsburgh when the Steelers brought a variety of looks he could not compensate for, but played better against Oakland in the finale when the defense was more vanilla.

Keathley is a restricted free agent who knows the blocking scheme and could be a cheap alternative to bring back as a backup. Since he went to TCU with Tomlinson, Keathley will always be linked to the team.

Kris Dielman saw duty in a couple of games as a guy who could give others a breather or two. Considering this year was Dielman's first as an offensive lineman, he will return. His upside is valued by the Chargers staff. They view his college stint on the defensive line as a trait that will help him in the future. Dielman has the tenacity to play hard and finish off his blocks, but he needs work on his fundamentals. Another year should help.

Toniu Fonoti was prematurely placed on injured reserve before the season. Some have questioned his ability to control his weight and that will likely always be an issue he must deal with. At the end of the season, Fonoti showed some fire when he met Coach Schottenheimer by saying he felt he let his teammates down and should not have been placed on IR so soon. The coach agreed. Fonoti is a big part of the future and will likely play left guard next year for the Bolts.

Chad Ward gets an incomplete after signing with the Chargers on January 8th, 2004. Ward does not figure prominently into the 2004 roster plans.

Denis Savage can be reached at

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