Super Chargers: Pro Bowlers, Breaking Out, Rising Stars

Pro Bowl Worthy: The Usual Suspects

 Quarterback, Philip Rivers

Recharged under a new regime, the gunslinger has been reigned in by taking care of the ball and accepting the check-down to live another play. Averaging nearly 300 yards each week with a QB rating of 104.4 on the season, he is orchestrating a clock-controlling offense that ranks fourth in time of possession while tallying the second-most first downs. Completing a league-leading 70.9% of his passes, Rivers is at the helm of the AFC’s second-ranked offense and is having a Pro Bowl caliber campaign. Unlike the last six seasons where he placed in the top six in passes thrown away, when he actually led the league three times in that span, the offensive gameplan has him placed in the bottom third this time around.

 Tight End, Antonio Gates 

The quarterback’s best friend is healthy and having the type of season that results in his usual Pro Bowl selection. Gates has rekindled the flame posting the second most yards,  third most yards per game, and third most first downs among tight ends. He might not have the same explosion but the reliable veteran has been just that,  leading the Bolts in catches while helping the offensive line keep Rivers upright. He still uses his athleticism to get the best of defenders and he finds space against zones for a living. The man is still an top-tier tight end that draws the double coverage that opens things up for the rest of the offense.

 Safety, Eric Weddle 

It’s extremely challenging to play in the secondary nowadays, let alone be a standout each season. Weddle is the heart and soul of a struggling defense, persevering through his own aerial breakdowns by defending seven passes and racking 77 tackles so far. He mans the back end of a barely-existent secondary, roaming from the sidelines to the box and even lining up against tight ends. The playmaker hasn’t forced turnovers and has only notched one sack, but for the most part his role has shifted to being the last line of defense to prevent the big play.

Breaking Out

 Running Back, Danny Woodhead 

The all-purpose weapon continues to do damage in all aspects of the game. Second on the team in receptions, the dual-threat out of the backfield demands attention with 119 total touches for 665 yards and a handful of scores. Woodhead is the little engine that could, he is a big reason this team moves the chains as much as it does because the offense revolves around his versatility. His presence has balanced quite well when you look at the tandem formed with Ryan Mathews.

 Running Back, Ryan Mathews 

Speaking of the the backfield tandem, Mathews is coming off his third triple-digit production of the season. Averaging just under 70 yards with 4.4 per carry, he has carried the ball 150 times in a relatively healthy campaign. The staff understands the talent that he brings to the table while working around his durability issues. The limited touches have kept him on the field, getting the rock a sweet sixteen times per week.

 Kicker, Nick Novak 

The kicker has been great since coming to San Diego a few years ago. He’s only missed a trio of kicks up to this point, drilling 87% including a perfect 8/8 beyond 40 and 50-yards out.

Rising Stars

 Wide Receiver, Keenan Allen 

The rookie has catapulted onto the scene as the team’s top receiver despite shrugging off some ailments this month. Allen has quickly developed chemistry with Rivers in large part to his route-running ability. He looks polished as long as he doesn’t stop running on any given play, and for awhile he became the go-to guy when they needed a first down. Presented with an opportunity to start after some veterans went down to injuries, he stepped up and won’t be looking back. San Diego found a playmaker that will turn into a household name soon enough.

 Tight End, Ladarius Green 

Being listed as a second tight end sometimes means more than backing up the starter. In this case, the athletic Green looks and plays in a mold similar to Gates, perhaps younger, smoother, of course not as polished yet. He only has eleven catches to date, ten of which have gone for first downs. That playmaker word is the recurring theme in this offense, every week with limited snaps he continues to make his case for more action. His presence has also made a positive impact on an offensive line that needs the extra help, the Chargers ran the ball effectively with both tight ends on the field. Green is more than a backup, in fact he needs to be on the field more times than not with big play potential.

 Offensive Tackle, King Dunlap 

He has quietly anchored the offensive line, the biggest issue here is staying healthy enough to play. Dunlap should have a bright future in San Diego, he has +9.5 grade according to Pro Football focus, in translation he protecting the blindside at a high level.