The 2021 season is in the books and over the next few weeks, we'll be checking in with a few of the team's beat writers, along with fellow team reporter Chris Hayre and yours truly, to take a look back and a look ahead for the Los Angeles Chargers.
Last week, it was 2021 Team MVP.
This week, the writers gave their picks for the Most Improved Player of 2021 for the Bolts.
2021 Most Improved Player
He's always been a good player, always been a clutch player. Some of the plays he makes in the fourth quarter when you need him most, they're unreal plays. It's not the first time he's done that this year. But just to be a complete, all-around wide receiver … He showed to be a complete player and I think for me, the most improved player. We know what Mike Williams can do, but to show all that, especially at his size, 6-4, a big-body frame, usually these guys are kind of red zone targets, touchdown machines, but he kind of played like Keenan Allen out there. He was a first down machine, he was a YAC guy, he showed some speed out there, too. Credit to [offensive coordinator] Joe Lombardi for unleashing that potential of Mike Williams and now he's due for a big payday in the offseason. – Gilbert Manzano, Southern California News Group
There were a couple guys I was going back and forth with, but I'm gonna go with Uchenna because of the big plays he made in the biggest games. He started the season a little slow, but kind of picked up his play with the interception against the Chiefs, and in my opinion, I think he was the best player on the field at times in that Week 18 game against the Raiders. It was his first opportunity to start on the other side of Joey Bosa and I think he took advantage of it, especially late in the year. The Chargers are gonna have big decisions to make with a lot of free agents, but I think Chenna fits really nicely with what Brandon Staley likes to do. He said when he was in Chicago, he was watching tape of Nwosu coming out of USC. I think Uchenna really helped himself, especially late in the year. – Chris Hayre
When we looked at the defensive line, we were wondering who could step in during the Melvin Ingram departure. I think Justin, more than anybody, kind of helped with the depth and also, with a couple key plays – certainly had one in the opener against Washington and really upped his play throughout the season. This 2018 draft class, Derwin [James] certainly gives it the star power and the grade for how well it does, but I think a lot of those 2018 picks really accounted for themselves this year. It'll be really interesting going into free agency [and seeing] how many they're able to retain. – Joe Reedy, Associated Press
I'm gonna go with another 2018 guy and that was Kyzir White. I don't know if 'improved' is necessarily the right word I'd use here because he has dealt with injuries during his Chargers career but this season, you talk about Uchenna coming into his own? Kyzir came into his own. Especially, when linebacker has been one of the positions over the last couple years with these Chargers teams where we hadn't really seen production. But production from Kyzir in 2021? It was all caps. He was so close to 150 tackles, he was doing things Chargers linebackers hadn't done since Donnie Edwards in the mid-2000s. You mention that 2018 class, Derwin sees the credit a lot of the time, but that class has really come into its own in terms of production, availability and maximizing their potential within this new scheme, too. – Hayley Elwood
Take a look at the best photos from the Chargers 2021 campaign through the lens of team photographer, Mike Nowak, manager of photography, Ty Nowell, and gameday photographer, Travis Ellison.
Bolt Up for 2022!
Secure your 2022 Season Ticket Memberships today! Click here to learn more.