Listening to Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks talk about “blue chip” players on their podcast had me thinking, how many do the Chargers have? Both of them said you need 8-10 on your roster to make a Super Bowl run. So that’s what this is about today. Trying to figure out how many blue chip players the Chargers have.
A no-brainer considering Philip Rivers entire body of work. When you look at what he’s done the last month, he’s playing like a top 3 quarterback. His pocket presence Sunday was some of the best I’ve ever seen from Rivers. That’s a yes to Rivers so we’re at one.
Melvin Gordon is closer to average than he is a blue-chip player. He lacks the vision and creativity as a runner to be considered that. Austin Ekeler I think can be good but in no way is he there. Easy no for this position.
Keenan Allen is finally healthy and we are getting a chance to remember the talent he is. Since he’s been the focal point of the offense after the bye week he’s gone over 100 yards 4 out of 5 games. That gives the team 2 blue chips.
The other guys are best when they can complement a #1 receiver.
When the Chargers target Hunter Henry over 5 times, they win. It’s simple. That should be enough but if you need more just look at what Henry did against Washington. Beating their #2 corner repeatedly. Running away from safeties. He’s a blue chip guy. That gives them 3.
I love Russell Okung and he’s the best player on the line by far but he’s not an elite level lineman. The Chargers faced one on Sunday who was on a bum knee. Trent Williams man-handled Bosa and Ingram all game.
How Trent Williams handled Ingram/Bosa was something else. This recovery just doesn’t happen pic.twitter.com/NAePuqxwsz— KP (@KP_Show) December 12, 2017
That’s what a blue chip offensive lineman looks like. I don’t think anyone would argue that the team doesn’t have one.
Bosa and Ingram are both blue chip players. They are studs. Top 5 at their position. That gives the team 5 total blue chip players. Getting closer to that magic number. Sunday was the first time both have been neutralized all year. That said, the interior lineman dominated.
Second level defenders
Before the year I would’ve loved to put Jatavis Brown here but he’s played 11 snaps in 3 games. Getting Denzel Perryman back has been everything for the defense. We saw another strong performance by him on Sunday. I call him a blue chipper because of his mentality and how he makes everyone else around him better. He is a monster against the run. We don’t need to discuss any other linebackers. 6 blue chip players.
Last line of defense
Maybe the most improved position on the team has been the safeties. Tre Boston is much more aggressive and making plays. Jahleel Addae looks comfortable in coverage and is feisty around the line of scrimmage. Both are good now. There’s no way around it. Neither are at that “elite” level though, and that’s fine.
Trevor Williams is playing like an elite corner but, for me, I need to see this in successive years. His success rate in coverage per Footballoutsiders is 58%. For comparison, Casey Hayward’s is 62%. So for all corners who have been targeted over 55 times this year, that puts Williams as the 9th best corner. What puts him in the conversation is his tackling. He is absurdly good at it. We saw him against Washington continually come up and make plays against the run. That is huge, especially in defense.
Hayward is a blue chip guy. I mentioned Williams is ranked 9th in success rate. Well, Hayward is 5th. He also leads the league in pass deflections despite being targeted fewer times than all the “top” corners. Hayward is arguably the best player at his position in the league. He’s constantly around the ball. He eliminates your top threat. That gives the team 7.
Can they make a run?
Brooks and Jeremiah said you need 8 to make a run in the playoffs. I count 7 blue chip players. There are guys that are playing like elite talents, like Williams. Do you think the Chargers have more than I’m giving credit for? Can you make the argument that since the team has them at premium positions like quarterback, pass rusher, receiver, and corner they get the benefit of the doubt?