The Chargers managed to turn their 2022 season around at the midpoint when their defense found a way to dig their heels in and start playing above themselves despite numerous injuries to starters, including edge rusher Joey Bosa who missed 12 total games during the regular season.
One player who helped orchestrate their strong play down the stretch was cornerback Michael Davis who — if you recall — did not begin the season as one of the team’s starting three cornerbacks. Following the season-ending injury to J.C. Jackson, however, Davis stepped into the lineup and played some of his best football to date down the stretch.
Per Pro Football Focus, from weeks 12-17, Davis recorded five overall game grades of 71.8 or higher (60.0 is deemed average), including a season-best 82.6 against the Rams. That strong stretch of play came after a first half to the season that saw Davis fail to record any single game grade over 68.0.
It’s from this inspired late-season play that Davis was named the Chargers’ most under-appreciated player by NFL.com’s Cynthia Frelund.
“Davis carries a relatively high cap charge in 2023 ($9.4 million), but his computer vision charts show that he was highly productive in several alignments last season,” says Frelund. “Asked to do a lot, thanks to a slew of injuries that cost the Chargers some of his highest-value defensive teammates, Davis stepped up. Computer vision shows his fatigue was the seventh lowest among defensive backs who logged at least 60 percent of their team’s defensive snaps. He tied for sixth in the NFL with 15 passes defensed last season.”
That last number is what should stand out the most from Frelund. Davis, despite playing roughly half the season as a starter, ended the year with the sixth-most passes defended in the NFL. That’s incredible. It’s also a far-cry from where he was as a player during his down year in 2021. Now, Davis looks to be on track to start the 2023 season opposite Asante Samuel Jr. barring an immense leap in rehab from J.C. Jackson. But even if Jackson returns to the lineup sooner rather than later, it’ll be hard for the coaches to keep Davis off the field should he continue his strong play from a season ago.