LA Chargers News

Los Angeles Chargers: Grading 2019 special teams unit

PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Mike Badgley #4 of the Los Angeles Chargers kicks the game winning field goal with no time left on the clock in the fourth quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 02: Mike Badgley #4 of the Los Angeles Chargers kicks the game winning field goal with no time left on the clock in the fourth quarter during the game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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PITTSBURGH, PA – DECEMBER 02: Mike Badgley #4 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates with Russell Okung #76 after kicking the game winning field goal to give the Chargers a 33-30 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)
PITTSBURGH, PA – DECEMBER 02: Mike Badgley #4 of the Los Angeles Chargers celebrates with Russell Okung #76 after kicking the game winning field goal to give the Chargers a 33-30 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on December 2, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images)

For the last Chargers positional review, it’s time to talk about the special teams unit. Can they be better than last season?

After reviewing all the positions, it’s time to talk about a unit that’s been a thorn in the Chargers side these last few seasons: Special teams. For those that want to check out review of the offensive line, it can be seen here. For all of the other position and group reviews that have been done this offseason, one can see them all here.

Special teams, before the 2018 season, was an absolute mess. From the absolute horrendous kicker decisions to the team never having a punter they really believed in, it was an all-around mess; that’s before even getting to the kick and punt return games that left a lot to be desired. But 2018 was different.

However, it started eerily similar. Caleb Sturgis was the kicker, seemingly having a moment every week in which he went wide every game on a field goal. It wasn’t even just field goals, but extra points were botched as well. Then, Sturgis got hurt and undrafted free agent Mike Badgley came in for a game. No one knew what to expect, other than maybe more tumultuous kicker moments. Sturgis would get the job back, but after a disastrous performance in Seattle the team would turn back to the rookie. Badgley was perfect, hitting 15 of 16 field goals during the season and 27 of 28 extra points.

It can’t be understated how much Badgley changed everything. Not having to worry significantly about the kicking game in 2018 was a significant weight lifted off the shoulders of the offense. The guy wasn’t just kicking short ones either; he now holds the record for the longest field goal in Chargers history, and the second-longest in the playoffs.

Now here’s the thing-kicker is somewhat of a fleeting position in the NFL. While Badgley has a spot locked down going forward, it’s ultimately performance-based. If he starts missing them frequently, there will have to be a kicker competition in practice to work things out. But based on last season and the idea he should really only get better coming into his second year, there’s a lot of optimism for Chargers finally having found someone reliable in Badgley.

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