Chargers need to provide Justin Herbert solid right tackle


Tom Telesco and John Spanos failed Philip Rivers by failing to provide him with a strong offensive line in the trio’s seven years together.

Folks who want the Chargers to fail will disagree, but if you enjoy football, Telesco and Spanos not providing enough blocking for Justin Herbert would be a shame.

There’s no law against having two good offensive tackles. To accelerate Herbert’s growth—already impressive—the Chargers’ braintrust ought to make that happen.

You might see Herbert, 23, become a star very soon if Telesco fixes the porous right-tackle spot that contributed to Sunday’s 20-17 loss to the underdog Cowboys.

Telesco drafting left tackle Rashawn Slater five months ago was a big, if belated step toward finally building a reliable line.

Slater is off to a smooth start at left tackle.

But Telesco and Spanos shouldn’t be satisfied with applying spackle to the right-tackle position, as they’ve done for most of their shared tenure.

Two offseasons ago Telesco took a big gamble on veteran Bryan Bulaga, signing the skillful but durability-challenged former Green Bay Packers right tackle.

No one was surprised when Bulaga’s body broke down last year and again this summer, both in the preseason and the Game 1 victory against Washington.

Telesco hates to trade premium draft picks.

He should be willing to spend one for a good right tackle if one becomes available between now and the trade deadline Nov. 4.

If you give Herbert two reliable tackles, the Super Bowl dream doesn’t look as smoggy as Los Angeles on a heavy-ozone day.

Carson Wentz was a second-year quarterback in 2017 when the Eagles fronted him with a top-tier line anchored by center Jason Kelce.

Wentz enjoyed very good tackle play, from Jason Peters and Lane Johnson.

The blockers enabled Wentz, who’d started all 16 games as a rookie out of North Dakota State, to survive and grow despite the jump in competition. The team’s 11-2 record with Wentz before his Week 13 knee injury led to a high playoff seeding that Philadelphia parlayed into a Super Bowl run.

A year ago when Herbert started 15 games as a rookie, the line Telesco built for him was below average. Rivers, meantime, enjoyed a nice rebound season last year behind a dependable Colts line.

Herbert grades higher than Wentz in key traits such as mental processing, accuracy and arm strength.

Another example is Patrick Mahomes.

The Chiefs, after grooming him for a year behind veteran Alex Smith — the brainy San Diegan whose tutoring Mahomes and agent Leigh Steinberg have described as invaluable — provided Mahomes with an excellent right tackle in Mitchell Schwartz and a solid left tackle in Eric Fisher.

The Chiefs reached the Super Bowl in Mahomes’ second year of starting and won the Lombardi Trophy in large part because Chiefs blockers dueled the Niners’ monster D to something close to a draw.

Count on this: Every AFC team hopes Telesco doesn’t give Herbert a second good tackle.

R.B. Carnage, Marcus Allen

San Diegan and Hall of Fame running back Marcus Allen was so masterful at football that, even decades later, today’s NFL games accentuate Allen’s knack for either avoiding hammer blows or dishing them out in a durable fashion.

Today, NFL defenders aren’t allowed to tee off on quarterbacks and pass-catchers. But they can tee off on running backs, adding to the considerable carnage at the position.

The Ravens recently lost three running backs to injury (although not all due to contact). With 15 games to go — not counting up to four postseason games — the Niners (2-0) have lost four running backs, including No. 1 rusher Raheem Mostert for the season.

When Niners rookie Trey Sermon took his first NFL handoff Sunday in Philadelphia, he was fortunate to stand up afterward.

Sermon cleared the line, then took three scary shots. First was a forearm shiver to the helmet from a defender speeding from his right of him.

As his head jerked left, Sermon took a direct blow to the front of his helmet from a defender who charged full speed. Then Sermon staggered forward and plunged into the ground, headfirst.

I have exited with a concussion. Monday, the team tried out three more running backs.

Sermon gashed college defenses last year while averaging 7.5 yards per carry for Ohio State, then went in the NFL Draft’s third round.

Due to his upright style, he appeared taller than his actual 6-foot height. An elevated style can expose backs to worse hits.

Allen stood 6-2, but walked away from hundreds of collisions. Lithe, smooth, quick and fast, he could evade opponents or lower the boom on them. The devastation he effected as a safety for Lincoln High foreshadowed his careers with USC and the NFL’s Raiders and Chiefs. Though his 16-year professional career ended in 1997, Allen sits third in NFL rushing touchdowns, 10th in rushing attempts and 14th in rushing yards.

four things

  • When the Cowboys took the field Sunday, video from those present showed the crowd evoked Dallas, not Inglewood. When the Chargers trotted out? A lawn bowling match.
  • What ignited Buffalo’s route at Miami? More than anything else, the dominant pass rush. The mystery was why the Dolphins allowed Bills DBs (including San Diego resident Micah Hyde) to rush untouched off the edge and cause problems. Raw QB Tua Tagovailoa seemed at fault there. But it was journeyman RT Jesse Davis whiffing on DE AJ Epenesa that led to the blind-side sack that sidelined lefty Tua (ribs).
  • Bright spot for the awful Jags (0-2) was University of San Diego alum Jamal Agnew evading several Broncos defenders on a 102-yard kickoff return.
  • Rams WR Cooper Kupp got so open in Week 1 and 2 victories, you wondered if opponents knew he wears No. 10. A grab bag of explainers: Kupp’s versatility and play speed, QB Matthew Stafford’s manipulation of defenders and space-creating arm strength, and chess-playing of Sean McVay and coordinator Kevin O’Connell, a former San Diego State quarterback who trained under Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and Josh McDaniels.


  • 0:01 — time on game clock after rookie WR Rondale Moore gambled and won late in the first half. Moore avoided defending to gain six extra yards after choosing not to go out of bounds. Matt Prater followed with a 62-yard field goal — three big points in Arizona’s 34-33 victory (the Vikings’ Greg Joseph was wide right on a 37-yard try for the victory.)
  • 16 — Raiders DE Maxx Crosby’s NFL-best total of pass-rush pressures through Week 2, per The Athletic’s Mike Sando.