LA Chargers 2020 midseason awards: MVP, most improved and more

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) – LA Chargers
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) – LA Chargers /

At the midway point of the 2020 season, let’s dish out some awards for the LA Chargers.

It’s safe to say that the LA Chargers sitting at 2-6 at their midway point is a disappointment. There was palpable excitement surrounding this team after they drafted Justin Herbert, signed Chris Harris, Bryan Bulaga, Linval Joseph and traded for Trai Turner.

Even with the perceived plan of Tyrod Taylor starting at quarterback, there were talks of this team potentially vying for that last playoff spot.

Unfortunately, even though this team upgraded at quarterback with Herbert taking over the reins but everything else around him has declined. Beluga and Turner have played one drive together all season. Harris hasn’t played since being injured in the Carolina game. Austin Ekeler hasn’t played since he injured his hamstring against the Buccaneers.

Melvin Ingram and Joey Bosa have each missed games, and Bosa was playing with one arm for a few games. Drue Tranquill broke his ankle in week one. And of course, Derwin James has been out all season. Add in the regression from the secondary and terrible clock management from the coaching staff each week, and this what you get.

Thankfully, it’s not all bad news for the Chargers. They have found their franchise quarterback, and not only that he might be the clear choice for the league’s rookie of the year award. He’s been incredible.

They are also getting key contributions from some unlikely sources: Jalen Guyton, Donald Parham, Troymaine Pope and Kalen Ballage. They’ve also gotten some younger players some vital experience.

All is not lost, even though it is a bit disappointing right now. That being said, let’s get into our 2020 midseason awards for the Chargers.

Most Improved: Jerry Tillery, Defensive Tackle

There is certainly an argument for Sam Tevi, who has made a decent leap up from below average to average this year, which is something the Chargers desperately needed. It’s not always pretty for the former right tackle, but the improvement is clear.

Through eight games he’s only allowed 17 pressures and one sack. Having a mobile quarterback definitely helps in the sack department but Tevi allowed 28 pressures and six sacks through his first eight starts in 2019.

Most importantly, he hasn’t had one truly terrible game yet this season. He just allowed a season-high four pressures against the Raiders this past week. In 2019 he allowed six or more pressures in four games. He is absolutely not a foundational tackle, but he has improved.

That is why the decision is Jerry Tillery in my opinion. Tillery is still inconsistent, but he has taken a big leap forward this year and has shown flashes of being a foundational pass rusher alongside Joey Bosa and Uchenna Nwosu.

After his 2019 season in which he totaled three sacks and just 10 pressures, there were some fans who were VERY prematurely calling him a bust. The reality is that defensive tackle is one of the toughest positions in the NFL to adjust to as a rookie. Not to mention Tillery was dealing with a major injury when the Chargers drafted him.

The Chargers needed Jerry Tillery to take a leap forward this year and he has. The improvement as a pass rusher has been outstanding. He still needs to get stronger against the run but as it stands he's 2nd on the team with 24 pressures, after only registering 10 as a rookie.

— Guilty As Charged Podcast (@GACPodcast17) November 10, 2020

His run defense needs a lot of improvement, but through eight games he already has as many sacks as he did as a rookie, including that strip-sack of Derek Carr on Sunday. The biggest leap forward though has been in his ability to get more pressures. He is currently second on the team with 24 pressures. Yes, he does have more pressures than both Melvin Ingram and Nwosu. While I do not expect that to continue throughout the year, that is a BIG deal. The Chargers drafted him to take pressure and attention away from their star edge rushers and provide an interior pass rush. As it stands right now, Tillery is firmly trending up.