Chargers Quarter Season Grades/Awards
The NFL has played 4 weeks, and while there isn’t a perfect time to do quarter-season grades with 17 games, this still seems like the natural time to do it. The Chargers have played 4 quality opponents to open the season and sit at 3-1, with a very good case to be 4-0. Despite that, every fan would’ve been ecstatic at the beginning of the season to be in this position.
I am going to go by position groups with a grade for all of them, and then will have the MVP of each individual group as well.
I would’ve loved to give Justin Herbert an A for how he’s played this year, but I couldn’t do it. In many ways he has improved from last season, he is processing things incredibly fast and seems to make the right decision every time. This grade would be an A based on the last 2 games, but the first two games of the season against Washington and Dallas left a lot to be desired. I couldn’t be happier where Herbert is at and have no doubt he will continue to build on his play from the last two games.
Running Back: B
Austin Ekeler‘s season has actually been very similar to Herbert’s. Ekeler was hurt to begin the year and didn’t have a ton of impact the first game having zero targets. He has essentially upped his performance every week since then. The position group’s grade is a B, frankly due to underwhelming performances from Larry Rountree and Justin Jackson. Rountree has looked solid at times, particularly on Monday Night, but there hasn’t been much consistency behind Ekeler. The obvious position MVP goes to Ekeler.
Wide Receivers: A-
This one was easy. Mike Williams and Keenan Allen are making their case as the best wide receiver duo in the NFL. They have combined for 51 catches and 600 yards in four games, that’s elite. The group lacks explosiveness outside those two, with an occasional good play by Jalen Guyton but there isn’t much outside of that. Williams and Allen have been so good that it doesn’t matter. Hopefully, Josh Palmer will be able to get some targets in the near future. The position MVP goes to Williams.
Tight End: B-
Nothing incredible from the tight ends, but they have been reliable. Jared Cook has been everything that we could have wanted from him and seems to have a great connection with Herbert. Donald Parham is finally getting more involved with the offense but there hasn’t been much consistency from him in the receiving game. Stephen Anderson has been awesome in the run game and had a big play against the Raiders. While they’ve been consistent and reliable, nothing crazy stands out. Position MVP goes to Cook.
Offensive Line: B-
This group was the hardest for me to grade, there has been so much good and so much bad through four games. They have had two really good games, and two other less than desirable games. Rashawn Slater has been incredible and hardly seems to make mistakes. Corey Linsley is probably the biggest reason the line has had such good cohesion, he’s done so well keeping this unit playing well. The main reason the group got brought all the way down to a B- is because of Storm Norton. He has struggled big-time since Bryan Bulaga went out and was the main reason why the Chargers have one loss this year. Regardless, I am pumped that the unit has played this well compared to what we have had in previous years. Position MVP goes to Slater.
Defensive Line: C-
The tough thing about grading the Chargers is they have a ton of top-tier talent at many positions, but not much else around them so it can be difficult to grade them. This is exactly what is happening with the defensive line. You have Joey Bosa, an all-pro level player who is playing some exceptional football at the moment. However, the Chargers find themselves at the bottom of the league in rushing yards allowed per game and per play. There have been flashes of solid play from multiple players across the defensive line but it really has only been put together for one game where they shut down the Las Vegas Raiders. This is another position that is trending up, hopefully, Justin Jones can get healthy sooner rather than later because they desperately miss him. Position MVP is obviously Bosa
The linebacker group was the group I was looking forward to most at the beginning of this season. They have 3 legit, starting-caliber players in this unit. I was actually most looking forward to seeing the sophomore leap that Kenneth Murray would be taking and evidently, he has been underwhelming. Brandon Staley even made the comment that he still needs work to fully learn the new scheme. I believe Murray will turn it around once he comes back from Injured Reserve.
It’s unfortunate that Murray has been struggling/injured but thankfully Drue Tranquill and Kyzir White have been phenomenal. They both seem to be playing at a faster speed than Murray has been. The way they diagnose plays and attack the ball has been a revelation. Tranquill has been exceptional when blitzing and I hope they continue to let the both of them loose more often. Despite both of them playing well the position MVP goes to White since he’s been doing this all four games this year and has flashed some high-level playmaking ability.
Defensive Backs: A+
Saved the best position group for last. I watched Staley take lesser-known players like Troy Hill and John Johnson III and turn them into very high-end starters that both received very nice contracts this past season. He appears to have done that so far with Nasir Adderley who is taking the leap that we had all hoped for. Someone that hasn’t been talked about much this season is the corner that the Chargers resigned this offseason, Michael Davis. It is always a really good thing when corners aren’t talked about often. His tackling has been incredible and has done well with what’s been asked.
There’s also Asante Samuel Jr. who leads the team in interceptions with two and was the defensive rookie of the month. There are others that I can shout out here but there has been exceptional play from so many. You take all this talent and then you combine it with a healthy Derwin James, and you deserve an A+. James is the position MVP, obviously. He is playing lights out and really showing that he can affect the game in a variety of ways, be it playing in the box or playing coverage against the likes of Travis Kelce and Darren Waller.
Wrapping up, I will give the team-wide awards below.
MVP: Justin Herbert
Offensive Player Of The Year: Austin Ekeler
Defensive Player Of The Year: Joey Bosa
Comeback Player Of The Year: Derwin James
Rookie Of The Year: Rashawn Slater
Looking forward to the next quarter of the season, and hoping these trends continue in the right direction, Bolt Up!