The Los Angeles Chargers certainly enjoyed their bye week after a surprising 4-2 start to the year. Unfortunately, their final game of the first chunk was a 34-6 embarrassment at the hands of Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens.
Still, this team has a lot to like with Brandon Staley running the show in SoFi Stadium and Justin Herbert posting MVP-type numbers. Next up for the Chargers is a huge matchup with the New England Patriots less than a year after dropping a goose egg against them.
But, reinforcements are joining the Chargers on the other side of their bye as they made one move that will bring a massive smile to the face of Herbert and the LA fans.
The Chargers make the decision to bring in a new kicker
When somebody discusses the Chargers, one of the first things to come to mind is the glaring issues at the kicker position. From Younghoe Koo to Nick Novak to Michael Badgely to Tristan Vizcaino, it has been a mess.
Koo left the Chargers and has since become a Pro Bowl kicker with the Atlanta Falcons, and Novak primarily enjoyed some success with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Badgely has since joined the Indianapolis Colts after the injury to Rodrigo Blankenship.
Badgely and Vizcaino endured a long kicking competition in the offseason, with the rookie edging out the incumbent Badgely. But, Vizcaino’s time didn’t last long, and he certainly did himself no favors.
The Chargers have signed Dustin Hopkins, who was previously with the Washington Football Team and parted ways with Vizcaino after just six weeks.
The slew of Chargers’ fans rejoiced when Vizcaino won the job, but he went 10-of-15 on extra points, and Staley and general manager Tom Telesco wanted nothing to do with that.
Last season, Badgely’s struggles appeared once again. He finished the season with just three missed extra points but a 24-of-33 clip on field goals. Despite his struggles, former head coach Anthony Lynn kept sending Badgely out there, knowing all too well what would happen.
He then jumped on the Tennessee Titans roster in 2021 but went 0-1 on field goals and 1-2 on extra points in just one game before they decided to cut ties with him.
In all honesty, this is a move that was a long time in coming, and the hope is that Hopkins can be the guy moving forward.
Brandon Staley’s latest comments are put to rest with the signing of Dustin Hopkins
During the past few weeks, Staley kept reiterating the team’s faith in Vizcaino as the team’s kicker. During game week, Staley echoed the same sentiments regarding the kicking position (h/t Gilbert Manzano of OC Register).
“We’re going to make sure we keep all our options open at that position. But we still have a lot of confidence in Tristan.”
Brandon Staley on the kicking situation
Staley did say they are keeping options open. Nonetheless, this still came as a surprise, especially after years and years of the Chargers front office staying true to their kickers despite poor performances.
But the missed extra points are inexcusable for anybody. Staley has elected to go for it on 4th down quite a few times — and has found success in that department. Those decisions could be attributed to the kicking struggles, which Lynn didn’t do in his time wearing the headset.
The quick decision to replace Vizcaino is yet another reminder of how much of a difference a head coach can make.
Justin Herbert deserves better especially from the kicking position
With a player as talented as Herbert, surrounding him with ample talent needs to be priority number one. The Chargers did just that in the offseason and brought in a ton of talent on the offensive line.
They also brought in veteran tight end Jared Cook after Hunter Henry signed a big deal with the New England Patriots. But having a reliable kicker is a must, which the Chargers have missed in recent years.
Hopefully, the addition of Hookins can ease the burden of Herbert, who sometimes has to go for it on 4th down due to the riskiness of sending out the field goal unit. The newest kicker in LA has a career 163-194 clip and has missed 11 extra points in his seven years in the league.
The Chargers signal-caller is having an unbelievable season, and the team is right in the running for the AFC West crown, even more with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs hitting some unprecedented struggles.
While the kicker position might be overlooked at times, this is a massive deal for the Chargers.
Stats Courtesy of Pro Football Reference