3 Chargers who have undoubtedly earned a larger role during playoff push

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
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The LA Chargers shocked many in the football world in Week 14 by defeating the Miami Dolphins and defeating them soundly. With the win, the Chargers have thrust themselves back into a great position to make the playoffs this season. There is still plenty of work to be done but fans have to like the team's chances for several reasons.

The Chargers are going to have to play their best football over these last four weeks in order to become a wild-card team in the AFC. Los Angeles realistically has to get to 10 wins to make the playoffs, meaning that they have to finish with a 3-1 record at worst to have a real shot.

If the Chargers are going to do that, role players on the team are going to have to continue to step up. Brandon Staley is also going to have to reward those who have played well, as there are three players in particular who have undoubtedly earned a bigger role during this playoff push.

3 Chargers who deserve a bigger role to close the season:

1. Joshua Kelley

This is nothing against Austin Ekeler. He still adds a lot of value in the passing game as well as a red-zone weapon. With Joe Lombardi's bad red-zone play-calling, Ekeler's importance is felt even more as he can make something out of nothing in the key area of the field.

However, Ekeler simply is not the same guy that he used to be when it comes to designed runs between the tackles. Part of the reason is bad play design with a banged-up offensive line but anyone that has watched the Chargers this season has seen that Joshua Kelley is simply the better runner at this point.

Kelley has more burst than Ekeler does behind the line of scrimmage and is able to get into the second level much quicker. The numbers speak for themselves as Kelley has been far more efficient in the chances he has received this season.

Kelley is averaging 4.6 yards per carry compared to Ekeler's 4.1 yards per carry. That might not seem substantial but a half-yard difference is big. Plus, Ekeler's numbers are heavily swayed by one good game against the worst run defense in the league. If you remove the one good game against Cleveland, Ekeler is averaging 3.4 yards per carry this season.