Well, it feels good to be in the Divisional Round, even if it means facing a dynasty right in the face. The Chargers have been a very good team this year, though that feeling might not be surprising to the Chargers’ faithful. The team is often pretty good! In fact, that is one of the most commonly quoted difference-makers this year: The Chargers are, for the first time in a long time, not snakebitten. While many of the symptoms of bad luck are hard to quantify, one of the most easily understood and prevalent is in kicking stats.
A long, long time ago, in a city not far away...
The Chargers sucked at kicking.
I’m not telling you anything that you didn’t already know. The revolving door of kickers has been one of the Chargers’ biggest pains in both San Diego and in LA. No lead is safe, and no extra point is guaranteed. Entire seasons ended because of poor kicking.
But this year is different. It didn’t start out that way, but it’s that way now. Michael Badgley is the real deal. Even after he aced his initial test with the Chargers and got fired to pave the way for a really, really lousy final Caleb Sturgis game, Badgley has proven his worth to the team in raw, quantifiable ways.
The Money Badger difference
Caleb Sturgis, who had a pretty good stint in Philadelphia, was someone that I thought would really do well for the Chargers. Sorry, guys. Apparently, once they leave Philly, kickers are best utilized as Heimlich maneuver test dummies (most recent Philly-alum choke artist Cody Parkey is example F. David Akers remarkably avoided the fate). Still, had the Chargers done the really stupid thing and kept up with Sturgis, we could extrapolate his 69.2% FG and 60.0% XP marks toward the remainder of the season.
- In the regular season, Michael Badgley made 15 of 16 field goals (45 points)
- With the Sturgis % applied, that would instead be 11 of 16 field goals (33 points)
- In the regular season, Michael Badgley made 27 of 28 extra points
- With the Sturgis % applied, that would instead be 16.8  extra points
OK, so the Chargers earned a few more points with Badgley. So what?
No, no they didn’t win a few more points with Badgley, they won a few more GAMES. To do this exercise, because not every game has even numbers of FGs or XPs, I am rolling over their value. For instance, week 6: There were 5 XPs (3 adjusted), and 2 FG (2 adjusted, but the next one in week 7 will be counted as a miss).
Week 6: Chargers 28, Browns 14 (2 of 2 FG & 5 of 5XP)]
- Week 6 adjusted: Chargers 36, Browns 14 (2 of 2 FG & 3 of 5 XP)
Week 7: Chargers 20, Titans 19 (2 of 2 FG & 2 of 2 XP)
- Week 7 adjusted: Chargers 17, Titans 19 (1 of 2 FG & 1 of 2 XP) ADJUSTED LOSS
For week 9, Sturgis came back in, so we are going to adjust UP for Badgley. Note that they went for 2 (and missed) because of Sturgis’ struggles.
Week 9: Chargers 25, Seahawks 17 (0 of 0 FG & 1 of 3 XP)
- Week 9 adjusted : Chargers 27, Seahawks 17 (0 of 0 FG & 3 of 3 XP)
Week 10: Chargers 20, Raiders 6 (2 of 2 FG & 2 of 2 XP)
- Week 10 adjusted: Chargers 19, Raiders 6 (2 of 2 FG & 1 of 2 XP)
Week 11: Chargers 22, Broncos 23 (3 of 3 FG, 1 of 2 XP)
- Week 11 adjusted: Chargers 19, Broncos 23 (2 of 3 FG & 1 of 2 XP)
Week 12: Chargers 45, Cardinals 10 (1 of 1 FG & 6 of 6 XP)
- Week 12 adjusted: Chargers 43, Cardinals 10 (1 of 1 FG & 4 of 6 XP)
Week 13: Chargers 33, Steelers 30 (1 of 2 FG & 2 of 2 XP)
- Week 13 adjusted: Chargers 29, Steelers 30 (1 of 2 FG & 1 of 2 XP) ADJUSTED LOSS
Week 14: Chargers 26, Bengals 21 (4 of 4 FG & 2 of 2 XP)
- Week 14 adjusted: Chargers 20, Bengals 21 (2 of 4 FG & 2 of 2 XP) ADJUSTED LOSS
Week 15: Chargers 29, Chiefs 28 (0 of 0 FG & 3 of 3 XP)
- Week 15 adjusted : Chargers 28, Chiefs 28 (0 of 0 FG & 2 of 3 XP) ADJUSTED ...TIE??
Week 16: Chargers 10, Ravens 22 (1 of 1 FG & 1 of 1 XP)
- Week 16 adjusted: Chargers 10, Ravens 22 (1 of 1 FG & 1 of 1 XP)
Week 17: Chargers 23, Broncos 9 (0 of 0 FG & 3 of 3 XP)
- Week 17 adjusted: Chargers 22, Broncos 9 (0 of 0 FG & 2 of 3 XP)
Week 18: Chargers 23, Ravens 17 (5 of 6 FG & 0 of 0 XP)
- Week 18 adjusted: Chargers 21, Ravens 17 (4 of 6 FG & 0 of 0 XP)
Conclusion: Chargers only made the playoffs BECAUSE of the Money Badger!
So, as you can clearly see, the move to the Money Badger has more than paid dividends for the Chargers... he has propelled them into the playoffs. Yes, going by the stat line of Caleb Sturgis, the Chargers would have not made it to the playoffs without Michael Badgley, as their regular season record of 12-4 would have instead been 8-6-1.
No, I don’t for an instant think that the Chiefs game would have ended in a tie, but even if you take that game down to a coin flip, the Chargers do NOT make the playoffs: The Steelers would have won the North, and the Ravens would have gained the 6th seed.
While it would only be sensible to go for 2XP more often if Sturgis was still with the team, that’s, of course, a double-edged sword. What we know and can say with absolute certainty is that going with Michael Badgley instead of Sturgis was the most pivotal personnel move of the team’s entire season.
The one game that many credited as a team loss because of Badgley’s kicking, the Week 11 fall to the Broncos, was actually only close because the Chargers made a change. The final score was 22 - 23, and unfortunately marks the only XP miss of Badgley’s career with the Chargers. But he was 3-of-3 for field goals that day, so the adjusted final score with Sturgis in the mix would have been 19 - 23.
Michael Badgley had a blocked FG during his record-setting day against Baltimore last weekend, though that still counts as a miss in kicking stats. That puts him at a 90.9% FG rate and a 96.4% XP rate, and those stats are actually down from his regular-season stats because of the block. Wow!
Finally, this kid looks and acts like the “whoa, I’m an Avenger?? Sweet!” persona of Tom Holland’s Spider-Man.
Only, this time around, I don’t fear quite as many ‘snaps’ for this young buck.
-Jason “I didn’t expect this to be quite so definitive” Michaels