The day after the Super Bowl, the folks over at Pro Football Focus looked back on the 2020 season and hand-ranked their top-101 players from this past season.
Despite coming off a down year that sent many in the fan base through an emotional roller-coaster, the Bolts still landed a trio of players on the list. Those three make up, arguably, the best three players that the Chargers have on the roster.
Who are those three players? Well, let’s take a look.
21.) DE JOEY BOSA
2020 stats: 39 total tackles, 15 tackles-for-loss, 7.5 sacks, fumble recovery
What PFF had to say:
“The Chargers’ defense was supposed to be special this season, and while that never quite happened, Joey Bosa certainly lived up to that billing. The Ohio State product notched 61 total pressures in just 12 games, and only Aaron Donald recorded a better pass-rush win rate than Bosa’s 24.6%. Bosa has now topped a PFF pass-rushing grade of 90.0 three times in his career, but this was the best run-defense grade of his career, which helped him surpass a PFF overall grade of 90.0 for the first time.”
Bosa lands as the top Chargers player from the 2020 season despite struggling with injuries the whole way through. In week five heading into the Saints game, Bosa told the media that he’d never dealt with so many injuries at the same time (he had three at the time). While he did eventually heal up a bit from those earlier wounds, Bosa suffered a pair of concussions in the second half of the season with the second one keeping him out of the final two games of the season.
In all, Bosa missed four games in total and played a limited role in two others. His high placement on this list just shows you how truly elite he was when he was on the field, regardless of the capacity.
He’ll look to get back on track in 2021, but it’s starting to get a little bit scary when you realize Bosa has only played in more than 12 games in a season just twice in his five-year career.
55.) WR KEENAN ALLEN
2020 stats: 100 receptions, 992 receiving yards, eight touchdowns
What PFF had to say:
“Keenan Allen’s hands and route running are among the best in the game, two pretty important parts of playing wide receiver in the NFL. Allen saw the ball come his way 138 times this season and dropped just two passes. His route running is on another level from most receivers in the league, and that helped him to an 84.9 overall PFF grade despite lower overall numbers than some other wide receivers in the league and on this list.”
Allen was also sidelined for the final two games of the season with injuries, ending his streak of consecutive 1,000-yard seasons at three. He was also this close to setting a new career high in touchdowns catches but he ended up finishing the season with eight, the same number that he hit as a rookie back in 2013.
Seeing the way Allen and Justin Herbert hit it off to this season was a thing of beauty. Whenever you bring in a rookie quarterback, you hope and pray that he quickly develops chemistry with all of the team’s best play-makers. To everyone’s sheer delight, this is exactly what happened.
Looking ahead, with Allen signed for the foreseeable future and Herbert heading into just his second season as a professional, the sky seems to be the limit with this duo.
91.) QB JUSTIN HERBERT
2020 stats: 66.6 completion percentage, 4,336 passing yards, 31 passing touchdowns, 10 interceptions, 234 rushing yards, five rushing touchdowns
What PFF had to say:
“Justin Herbert’s rookie season was incredible given how many believed he would have the most growing pains among highly drafted rookie QBs given his college career. Herbert finished the season with the best PFF grade in the league under pressure, actually generating a higher passer rating when hurried than when kept clean.”
Many will see Herbert’s placement on this list and scoff as they remember just how scathing the pre-draft reports were on the former Oregon Duck heading into last year’s draft. Some at PFF even went as far as to say that he was simply not a good quarterback.
Not just a quarterback who could struggle as a rookie, but literally just a bad quarterback.
As Michael Scott of The Office would say, “Oh how the turn tables....”
Herbert’s placement on the list puts him as the 13th-best quarterback in the NFL, which honestly isn’t too shabby for a first-year player at the toughest position to play in the NFL. New Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (#73) landed as the next passer ahead of Herbert, so that will set the stage for a nice little QB rivalry in the city of Los Angeles as both are already seen as having two of the strongest arms in the league.
After setting numerous rookie quarterback records and asserting himself as the most consistent presence on the 2020 Chargers team, you’d be crazy not to be excited about this kid’s future, especially under new head coach Brandon Staley.
Here’s to seeing Herbert much higher on this list in 2021 and beyond.