The Los Angeles Chargers have had an up and down season, but these players have stood out and that is why I am considering them for the Chargers mid-season awards.
Now, I am going to give out 5 separate awards the midseason MVP, offensive player of the year, the defensive player of the year, the rookie of the year and the surprise player of the year.
MVP: Melvin Gordon
The Chargers have made some strides this season, compared to the start of the season and it is mostly because of the play of Melvin Gordon. It seems like when the Chargers are in competitive games and have chances to win it is the play of Melvin Gordon that elevates them to that next level. Gordon provides Phillip with an extra safety net and really covers up the holes on the offensive line, he makes would-be tacklers miss and has the speed to go for the long touchdown. Gordon has 131 rushes for 526 yards(4.0 yards-per-carry) and 4 touchdowns while adding 30 catches for 235 yards and 4 touchdowns. He leads the Chargers in reception touchdowns while being second on the team in receptions. In every win the Chargers have had, Gordon touched the ball 19+ times and in every loss, the Chargers have had Gordon did not touch the ball nearly as much.
Offensive Player of the Year: Philip Rivers
This is a hard one because Melvin is the MVP, but I think Phillip keeps the truck moving when it comes to the offense. Rivers, in his 14thseason, has looked elite this season. Yes, the Chargers have had their issues winning games, but Rivers has had a pretty good season. Rivers has 2028 yards on the season while throwing 13 touchdowns to just 6 interceptions and putting up a passer rating of 88.4. Rivers has 2 games over 300 yards and two 3-touchdown games this season. The statistics do not really tell the story with Rivers, he really just puts his team in the position to win almost every game and that is why I chose him to be offensive player of the year. Phillip has had 2 game winning drives and 3 potential game tying/winning drives that special teams and officiating lost. Rivers is the offensive player of the year and I look for him to improve on his season with a strong second half.
Defensive Player of the Year: Melvin Ingram
This is an easy decision. Melvin Ingram is not only having a career year, but he is turning himself into one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. The 6-year pro out of South Carolina has transformed into the pass rusher the Chargers wanted him to be coming out of USC. Ingram has had a tremendous season and has tortured opposing offensive lines, he dismantled Kansas City’s offensive line when he sacked Alex Smith 3 times. Ingram also has come up big during the most crucial moments of certain games, he sacked Trevor Siemian on a huge third down against the Broncos and came up big in the first win of the season against the Giants when he stripped sacked Eli Manning and put the Chargers in the position to win. Teams have had to find out a way to block Ingram and his partner Bosa, they will terrorize teams for the next few years and Ingram looks like he will be one of the premier pass rushers of the next few years.
Rookie of the Year: Desmond King
There is no doubt in my mind that he has turned into one of the best do-it-all nickel corners in the NFL, at least right now. The man has been on a tear after being drafted in the fifth round out of Iowa. This comes to no surprise as King made play after play for the Hawkeyes in his long career. While his stats may not fly off of the page, King has proven himself to be a sure-handed tackler and a beast off the edge during the cornerback blitz. Pro Football Focus has King rated as one of the best rookie cornerbacks this season and one of the best rookies overall this season. He has had a solid season and I expect him to build on this season and learn from the experience he is being given.
Most Improved Player of the Year: Hunter Henry
Henry has really taken a step forward this season, he has become a better blocker, receiver and has been a very consistent, all-around, every-down tight end. He is another player that plays very well in the crunch time, especially compared to last season. Henry has created open lanes for the running backs and has also made some amazing catches. Antonio Gates must have been teaching the youngster a thing or two about body control and blocking. The Chargers have found the heir to the tight end position and should use Henry a lot more than they have been. Henry is like Gordon when he gets used in an efficient way and is involved in the offense the Chargers have a very good chance to win the game, but when he isn’t utilized in the offense the Chargers seem to lose the game. Either way, Henry is clearly a very good tight end and should be a force to be reckoned with in the next few seasons.
–Alan Rodges is a Staff Writer and covers the Los Angeles Chargers for cover32.com/Chargers. Follow him on Twitter @misfitallday