During the BYE Week, the Chargers' big move was waiving K.J. Hill in favor of signing veteran KR/PR Andre Roberts. On the Tuesday of Patriots' week, the Chargers followed it up with another special teams change:
With a 4-2 team that's soaring towards playoff contention at the least, the coaching staff simply could no longer afford Tristan Vizcaino's crucial missed kicks that could cost the team. Had the Chargers not gotten the ball back after his missed PAT against the Browns, this change might've happened even sooner.
After the Chargers cut Hill, there was no way that keeping Vizcaino as the starting kicker could be justified. Brandon Staley talked at length about his physical attributes and wanting him to develop, but it just became untenable. If Staley wanted to be the accountability coach here, cutting both struggling specialists was the only right move.
Special teams will improve somewhat on the basis of having a better returner and a more experienced kicker. Expect the Chargers to certainly improve their bottom five rank in ST DVOA over the next few weeks. I would still say that special teams is a long ways from being categorically "fixed" though, as coverage and blocking have been two massive problems for the Chargers this year as well.
Still, Staley making the cuts of Hill and Vizcaino puts some of the other special teams players on notice. End of the roster players who aren't contributing on offense/defense and are struggling on special teams could realistically be cut.
Previously, Tom Telesco's Chargers teams had been very hesitant to make major midseason ST changes. Caleb Sturgis being released in favor of Michael Badgley in 2018 was the last major change to happen during the season and that was partially due to injury. Even during Badgley's immense 2019 and 2020 kicking struggles, the front office didn't feel it was the time to make a change.
In the meantime, Vizcaino has been signed to the practice squad. If Hopkins doesn't work out for the team, they can always try to progress his development for a kicking competition next year.