While there are more important games yet to play, it is important to acknowledge what the Los Angeles Chargers have done so far and award the players that have carried the team to where it is now.
A 12-4 season is incredible and even without a division win, any fan should be excited about what has happened and what is to come. It is time to stop and smell the roses while getting excited for the first Bolts playoff game since 2013.
With that, it is time to reflect a bit on a fantastic regular season, and more specifically who has made it happen with some awards.
MVP – Philip Rivers
No need for a lengthy explanation here. This season has been full of comebacks, and those are impossible without a great quarterback. Several weeks this season, Philip Rivers has been the best quarterback in the league. Nothing more to say here.
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) December 20, 2018
Offensive Player of the Year – Melvin Gordon
Do not be biased by his recent absence and Justin Jackson’s good performance; Melvin Gordon has been the Chargers’ best offensive player not named Rivers.
Over the course of his rookie contract, Gordon has morphed from an indecisive runner into a tackle-breaking machine. According to ESPN, Gordon has reached above 5 yards per carry this year – quite an elite statistic. Gordon has really improved and finally made himself one of the best players on the team.
Defensive Player of the Year – Derwin James
Not just a stud rookie, Derwin James was the most significant contributor on the defense this season. While a decent argument can be made for Melvin Ingram, the impact of James has been more significant and diverse.
Early in the season, James made up for Joey Bosa’s absence by providing several sacks. Later in the year, particularly against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he was able to keep his team in the game with his coverage skills.
James’ wide-ranging skill set allows Gus Bradley to use him to take care of any matchup issues against opposing offenses, and James has filled each role admirably. For that reason, he was the Chargers’ defensive player of the year.
Rookie of the Year – Michael Badgley
Michael Badgley deserves recognition. The special teams unit changed from horrible to above average by simply inserting Badgley. These stats show everything: with Caleb Sturgis, the Chargers were 9/13 on field goals and 9/15 on extra points. With the “Money Badger,” the Chargers have been 15/16 on field goals and 27/28 on extra points.
Tom Telesco needs to thank the 46-year-old Adam Vinatieri for not allowing the Indianapolis Colts to keep Badgley on the roster after the preseason.
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Most Improved Player of the Year – Mike Williams
This one is a difficult decision. Ultimately, Mike Williams showed the most significant difference from 2017 to 2018. Last year, even when Williams was healthy and active late in the season, his impact was almost entirely absent.
While Williams has not yet proven to be a No. 1 receiver on the level of Keenan Allen, he has had a year with 10 touchdown catches; finally showing that his college ability to go up and make contested catches can translate to the NFL.
He is starting to prove that he should have been drafted seventh overall. If that cannot convince you, maybe this video can.
Honorable Mentions: Adrian Philips, Brandon Mebane
— Los Angeles Chargers (@Chargers) December 14, 2018
Underappreciated Player of the Year – Darius Philon
Defensive tackles rarely rack up major statistics, and Darius Philon is no different. However, we may be silently witnessing the blossoming of a diamond in the rough drafted by Telesco in the sixth round.
Philon has made a significant difference by plugging up the middle along with the duo of Mebane and Damion Square. To use the analysis of others, Pro Football Focus has rated Philon as well above average this year. Philon is a growing player, and his game needs more appreciation.