The Los Angeles Chargers made some big roster decisions Saturday. Let’s talk about why they were pleasantly surprising and refreshing.
As per every September, NFL teams have to shorten the rosters down from somewhere around 90 to 53. The season may not hinge on every cut or every surprise move to the roster, but it is a factor in team depth and quality at many positions.
Let me tell you why the Chargers made the right moves on Saturday.
1. Kellen Clemens is gone
Clemens has been the backup quarterback since 2014. Has he played incredibly poorly? No. In fact, he hasn’t played much at all, considering Philip Rivers hasn’t missed a game in 11 years. But as far as preseason is concerned, Clemens is getting older and has in turn been playing worse. He’s been all but a lost cause this preseason. He’ll probably be signed somewhere else, but it was time for some new blood at the backup position.
This leads us to Cardale Jones, who made the roster after a so-so preseason. I do think we have to remember that Jones has been here all of about a month. He’s still learning the playbook and system, and I want him to have time to develop. Did he play significantly better than Clemens did? Not really. But he did start to improve his accuracy in the third game vs. the Rams and has youth and some upside. Clemens has neither.
2. Josh Lambo is out, Younghoe Koo is in
This may be my favorite and probably the most important move the Chargers made. Josh Lambo has played alright at best in these last two seasons, but he has two particularly memorable shanks vs. Tampa Bay and… yes… Cleveland. Don’t remind me about Cleveland. Lambo has come up short in the big moments, and that’s a big deal at the kicker position.
The second part of this equation is rookie kicker Younghoe Koo, who was born in South Korea prior to moving to America and becoming a college football player at Georgia Southern. He’s shown that he has a few tricks up his sleeve. Koo has won multiple accolades at Georgia Southern, most prominently a third-team All-American award.
I think he has a lot of potential, and we did watch Lambo struggle mightily in late-game situations last season. It was time to move on.
3. Mike Williams will not start the season on PUP
The initial reports were that the first-rounder would miss the entire season. Then, the reports were that he would be out until mid October and probably start the season on the PUP list. Now, while he probably won’t start the first few weeks, it seems like he’s shown promising signs of making a return much earlier than originally expected.
He’s such a great talent, and activating him for the season is a very promising sign for his role on the team, rehabilitation and development.
4. Austin Ekeler fought hard and won
Ekeler is one of my favorite stories. He received zero Division I offers to play football, but went undrafted and picked up by the Chargers.
He had almost 6,000 rushing yards for some school called Western State Colorado University. He's from Eaton, Co. Zero Division I offers.
— Robert Klemko (@RobertKlemko) September 2, 2017
Robert Klemko’s story thread on Twitter about Ekeler is great by itself. But going from 0 D1 offers to making a roster in the NFL is absolutely tremendous. He’s completely deserving in every way after playing incredibly well against the Rams and 49ers. Taking him over players like Kenjon Barner and Andre Williams is absolutely the right decision after what he’s done.
5. Preseason standouts Chris McCain, Dexter McCoil and Desmond King all make it
The defensive standouts this preseason have been great. McCain has bounced around as an undrafted free agent in his four years in the league, but he played very well for the Chargers this preseason. King was a fifth-round pick who at one point was unlikely to make the team.
He was probably the best of the three this season, and he really made himself stand out. And I have to give some love to McCoil, who played very well in training camp and preseason as well. It’s hard to believe at one point that McCoil was playing for the Arena Football League’s Los Angeles Kiss. Now, he’s really made it onto the National Football League’s Los Angeles Chargers.
The roster cuts and new additions really make me happy at the moment. This was honestly a really good display of using the preseason and training camp to better the team in the short and long-term. It also showed some ambitious decision-making from head coach Anthony Lynn and his staff.