The Los Angeles Chargers have finally found their franchise kicker, and his name is Michael Badgley.
The words “kicking” and “Chargers” don’t go well together.
It was just one year ago the Chargers finished dead last in field-goal percentage (66.7). They also connected on just 37-of-42 extra points, the third-worst mark in the league. Four players —Younghoe Koo, Nick Novak, Travis Coons and Nick Rose — attempted at least one field goal last season. Their kicking failures ultimately cost them a shot at making the playoffs.
The team ranked in the bottom half of the league in both field-goal percentage (81.3) and extra-point percentage (91.3) the year prior, too. Josh Lambo, who started all 16 games for the Chargers, was cut in favor of Koo prior to the start of the 2017 season.
Yeah, it’s been bad. In 2018, the Chargers hoped their kicking woes were finally behind them after signing former Philadelphia Eagles kicker Caleb Sturgis in the offseason.
But that didn’t go as planned.
Sturgis was arguably the worst starting kicker in the NFL. He hit a career-low 69.2 percent of his field goals and was a despicable 60 percent on extra points. In his final game as a Charger, Sturgis missed two extra points and a field goal.
It took until Week 9 to make a change.
Enter Badgley, an undrafted rookie free agent who was cut by the Indianapolis Colts prior to the start of the season. The New Jersey native filled in for an injured Sturgis for two games before getting waived again.
But the Chargers finally pulled the plug on Sturgis and re-signed Badgley to the starting roster, and it’s been the best decision they’ve ever made. He’s been the starter since Week 10 and hasn’t looked back.
Badgley finished the regular season making 15-of-16 field goals and 27-of-28 extra points, including setting a franchise record with a 59-yard field goal against the Cincinnati Bengals and hitting a game-winning field goal as time expired against the Pittsburgh Steelers in prime time.
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And then came Wild Card Weekend. In a windy stadium at Baltimore, Badgley hit 5-of-6 field goals, including a long of 53, and helped pave the way for a Chargers’ 23-17 victory.
The Chargers haven’t had a kicker this accurate since former Pro Bowler Nate Kaeding. Kaeding was a beast in the regular season. Unfortunately, he cost the Chargers big in several playoff games, most notably against the New York Jets in the 2009 divisional round, where he missed all three of his field-goal attempts at home. The Chargers lost that game by three points.
Thanks to the “Money Badger”, the Chargers finally have a reliable kicking game. It all goes back to the Colts, who already had their veteran in Adam Vinatieri and didn’t need Badgley.
Badgley is now the Chargers’ Dark Knight. He’s the kicker this team deserves.