2020 has come and gone with the LA Chargers as an organization now focused on the offseason. Before we officially hit free agency and the draft though, we should take a look back on the best players of the season.
Disappointing is probably how most Chargers fans would describe 2020, and it’s hard to disagree considering all of the close games that could’ve, should’ve, and would’ve been won. At the same time, many Bolts players have a lot to be happy about from last season as they look to build momentum into 2021.
Let’s start with some honorable mentions who just missed the top five.
LA Chargers’ Honorable Mentions:
Being a big guy on the interior of the defensive line is a tough life. Linval Joseph didn’t get celebrated as much as other Chargers’ studs this season. For a while, the Chargers just didn’t have a consistent presence in the middle of the line. Brandon Mebane was fine, but he was older and in decline during his latter years with the Chargers.
The truth is, Joseph ended up being the best interior presence on the Chargers since the early years of Corey Liuget (before signing THAT contract). Joseph didn’t record a sack, but his 26 total pressures were the highest they had been since 2017.
Joseph proved to be well worth the pricey two year contract the Chargers gave him by being a breath of fresh air for an interior that previously struggled. Despite his age, he’s still bowling over opposing centers and guards:
Linval Joseph doesn't have a sack this season, but he's still making plays as a pass rusher. The way he just throws dudes around sometimes is amazing. pic.twitter.com/rMxogqruqS
— Guilty As Charged Podcast (@GACPodcast17) December 29, 2020
Kenneth Murray ended up having a really solid rookie season. If you told me coming into the season that he would lead the team in tackles, I might’ve believed you. But I certainly didn’t expect him to finish with 107 tackles.
On top of that number, his tackling was also really efficient. Murray finished with the fourth highest tackling efficiency amongst all rookie linebackers since 2013. He was up there with names like Roquan Smith, Darius Leonard, and Devin Bush.
Murray didn’t start the season off so hot, but he was dynamite when he found his footing. Towards the beginning of the season you saw Murray have to deal with having a larger role following the season ending injury to Drue Tranquill.
By the back half of the season, it felt like he was more confident in the backfield and in coverage. He of course got his sack in the New England game but four of Murray’s five TFL’s came in the back half of the season. His sideline to sideline intensity was also noticeable.
By no means is Murray a perfect linebacker yet. He still does have to improve in coverage while becoming a little more consistent as a pass rusher. Considering the circumstances of 2020 though with basically no offseason program, I thought he did very well as a rookie.
Just missing out on the top five is Denzel Perryman. The veteran Charger had maybe the best season of his career in 2020. Sure, it came on fewer snaps than he normally has, but an early down backer with physical intensity was always the best role for him. I’m not sure Perryman was ever supposed to really be an every down backer.
Perryman put up 22 defensive stops, which is the most he’s had since 2016. In coverage, he allowed the fewest receptions and yards of his career. 85 passing yards allowed is by far the fewest of his career with a rather comparable amount of targets. He finished with three passing pressures and a sack. You guessed it again, the most in either category since 2016.
The Chargers may want to move in a younger direction when it comes to their depth at linebacker next season. In terms of his 2020 season though, Perryman was really efficient and provided great presence on early downs when the team needed it.
A back injury did hold him out of a few games, but he managed to avoided the dreaded lower body injuries. Perryman showed that he can still ball in the right role.