Currently sitting at 7-2 (second best record in the AFC), the Los Angeles Chargers look like (for the first time in a long time), a true contender. But what has changed? The obvious suspects in Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Melvin Ingram, etc. have enjoyed great seasons. But for now, let’s take a look at some unlikely players who have made contributions to the Chargers success.
Through the first three years of his career, Tyrell Williams was always a rather streaky, inconsistent player who could never fully establish himself as the Chargers number two wide receiver. However, through the first ten weeks of this season, Williams has 22 receptions for 451 yards and five touchdowns. And although he is still a big-play receiver rather than a consistent, move-the-chains type of player, his big plays are coming much more often and have at times completely switched the momentum in favor of the Chargers.
Barring any major injury or setback, Williams ability to separate himself from defenders down the field could very well win the Chargers a playoff game or a big divisional matchup, such as week 15 versus Kansas City.
A former fifth-round pick out of Iowa, Desmond King finished his rookie season as arguably the Chargers best run-stopping cornerback and was a solid cover man in the slot. However, despite his great rookie season, the expectations for King were not very lofty with many assuming he wouldn’t see the same number of snaps as he did in his first season. But due to Jason Verrett’s yearly injury and Casey Hayward’s somewhat struggle to find his footing, King has emerged as Los Angeles’ best cornerback. Thus far, King has racked in three interceptions, one forced fumble, two fumbles recovered, 30 combined tackles, and one pick six. And in week nine versus the Seattle Seahawks, it was King’s 45-yard pick six that won him AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
In addition to his defensive efforts, King has also (at times) served as a respectable return man for Los Angeles. Currently averaging over 11 yards per punt return and 20.7 yards per kick return. However, King’s biggest contribution to the special teams has been his ability to take care of the ball, something us Chargers fans aren’t accustomed to.
After years and years of suffering, the Chargers may have finally found a consistent kicker that isn’t allergic to the uprights. Over the past few years, the Chargers have started many star-studded kickers such as Younghoe Koo, Nick Rose, Travis Coons, Josh Lambo, Nick Novack, Caleb Sturgis, etc. Many of these kickers have not only cost the Chargers games but also playoff spots. However, with the addition of Michael Badgley, I, along with many other Chargers fans are able to watch our field goal unit without experiencing life-threatening panic attacks. But only time will tell if Badgley is able to perform in the clutch, something that has forever plagued Chargers kickers (i.e. Nate Kaeding).
Michael Badgley has set a team record for points scored by a kicker in Chargers history through the first three games of his career without a missed kick.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) November 11, 2018