San Diego has never been renowned for particularly hard-hitting journalism, and the sports departments are absolute fluff. Witness Jay Paris’s recent article on the Chargers’ left tackle predicament.
– Chargers have a $90 million quarterback, indisputably one of the elite talents in the League.
– Jared Gaither has an lengthy history of injury problems.
– Last year’s group of offensive tackles – Gaither, Marcus McNeil, Jeromey Clary, Brandyn Dombrowski, Stephen Schilling – had trouble protecting Rivers (and McNeil was destined to retire due to injury).
With all that as backdrop, the Chargers addressed the deficiency at the position as follows this offseason: the team cut McNeil and Dombrowski; signed Gaither long term; signed Mario Henderson, who was too out-of-shape to cut it in Oakland last year; and signed several rookie free agents.
Signing Gaither was a good move, and he may play the season and play very well, as he did last year.
But the best insurance the team could come up with, at an already-thin position, was a player who ate his way out of the League and a handful of rookies? To protect the most valuable player on the team? This is a mammoth indictment of the general manager, not an occasion to celebrate the herculean efforts of the undrafted rookie playing way above his pay grade. (Notably, the starting rookie left tackle is forgettable enough that Paris makes a point of repeatedly asking his name throughout the article. Nevertheless, Paris doesn’t even mention the GM that put this forgettable player in the position of protecting the franchise QB.)
I generally think a GM is best served by drafting talent, not to fill a need. But neglecting a need can only go so far, particularly where it threatens to hurt other key players.
The team has failed since 2007 to spend a pick higher than the sixth round on a tackle. Jay Paris, for one, needs to hold AJ’s feet to the fire for that.