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Five Good Questions with Bolts From The Blue

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I caught up with John Gennaro from SB Nation's Chargers blog for this week's Five Good Questions. Here is how that Q-n-A went down.

Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

1. How is it Philip Rivers is the early favorite for league MVP?

There's a couple of different factors. He's in his prime, it's his second year in this short-passing offense that fits him better, he's playing lesser teams, and he's had almost no help from his offensive line or running game. Mike McCoy, who was viewed as something of an offensive/QB wizard from his time with the Broncos, has been the best thing to ever happen to Rivers, and has finally helped him to reach his full potential.

2. What is going on with the center position over there? They're on what, their fourth center or something crazy like that? I also saw a graphic that showed Rivers' sacks have gone up each game. How much of a concern is that?

It's a huge concern. Nick Hardwick retired after the first game of the year (after realizing that his body wasn't going to be able to handle it). Rich Ohrnberger, his backup, has been out with some back issues. Doug Legursky, signed to be Ohrnberger's backup, started a game and then promptly went on IR. Trevor Robinson was signed off the Bengals practice squad, but the guy who will likely get the start and be the future of the center position is Chris Watt, drafted this year as a guard out of Notre Dame.

The sacks going up isn't totally a result of the offensive line, though. The Jets already led the league in sacks when they came to San Diego. I don't exact the Raiders to sack Rivers four times just because Rex Ryan's crew got to him three times. Also, most of the sacks prior to the Jets game were coverage sacks where Rivers didn't have a route to scramble out of the pocket.

3. I keep hearing about this running back Branden Oliver. Vegas prop bets has his rushing yards for Sunday at 70.5. What happened with that previously pretty formidable looking backfield of Ryan Mathews, Donald Brown, and Danny Woodhead?

Ryan Mathews got hurt in Week 1 and they're bringing him back VERY slowly, I'm assuming to keep him fresh for the second half of the year and the playoffs. Last year he was overworked and basically fell apart physically when the playoffs began. He won't play in this game.

Danny Woodhead broke his leg and is out for the year.

Donald Brown is an excellent 2nd or 3rd RB, but showed that he isn't much of a #1 RB once Mathews and Woodhead went down. Branden Oliver looked very good last week after Brown left the game with a concussion. That concussion could keep Brown out against the Raiders (which is why they've signed Shaun Draughn and Ronnie Brown), but he'll likely be Oliver's backup if he does play.

4. It appears you guys struck gold with Dwight Freeney and Brandon Flowers. How much has their addition contributed to the Chargers rather shocking AFC West leading 4-1 record?

It's probably about 50% of the reason. Another 25% is this being the easy part of the Chargers schedule (Bills, Jags, Jets, etc.), and another 25% being excellent coaching and excellent performance from the team's start players. If you're looking differences between last year's 9-7 team and this year's 4-1 squad, the biggest one is that San Diego's defense went from pathetic to good. Freeney and Flowers have been the two biggest reasons for that dramatic turn.

5. Is there a vulnerable area on the Chargers which opposing teams have been able to exploit or that is worrisome at the moment?

The offensive line. As much as Philip Rivers has been able to play at an MVP level without much around him, we all know that can't last. One of these days the offensive line, which is held together with tape and string at the moment, is going to give out and there won't be anything Rivers will be able to do about it.

The way to attack the Chargers is really with their own blueprint. Dominate on the line of scrimmage, run the ball successfully, and try to keep Philip Rivers on the sidelines instead of on the field.

I'll post a link to my answers to his questions when they go up on Bolts From The Blue.