COSTA MESA, Calif. — Let us get the obvious thing out of the way first.
Entering last week’s game with the Denver Broncos, Los Angeles Chargers kicker Michael Badgley had not missed a field goal or an extra point in three games as his team’s starting kicker, going 5-of-5 on field goals with a long of 44 yards and 9-of-9 on extra points.
However, Badgley pulled an extra point left in the third quarter in a game the Chargers ended up losing by one point — leaving the Miami product frustrated afterward.
“It’s points off the board,” Badgley said. “You need to take advantage of it every time you can get points. So it hurt, but there’s always going to be another kick, so you have to kind of move on from it quick.”
Badgley is 8-of-8 on field goals with a long of 46 yards, and 10-of-11 on extra points through four games.
Even with the hiccup against the Broncos last week, the Chargers have not lost faith in Badgley, and for good reason. After cycling through six kickers since the start of last season, Badgley has brought much-needed stability to the position since taking over the starting job three weeks ago, when the Chargers released Caleb Sturgis.
“Oh, absolutely,” coach Anthony Lynn said, when asked if he still believes in Badgley. “Just look around this league, I mean, a lot of really good kickers will miss one every now and then, and he’s only missed one. So I have a lot of confidence in him.”
Chargers defensive end Isaac Rochell said he likes the fact that Badgley hangs out with the rest of his teammates and is one of the guys. However, don’t get it twisted; what Rochell likes best is seeing Badgley kick it through the uprights on game days.
“He’s got that savage mentality that you don’t think about in a specialist,” Rochell said. “I think it’s super important when you have the game on the line and it comes down to a field goal and you have a guy who says, ‘Yeah, I’m not even worried about this. I can make this 10 times out of 10.'”
Added quarterback Philip Rivers: “We have great confidence in Mike, and I think Mike has got a lot of confidence, too, which his good.”
Badgley’s proficiency spawned a nickname from Chargers fans on Twitter — the “Money Badger” — an homage to the guy that “makes all his damn kicks,” as Lynn likes to say.
“That’s a good name,” Badgley said, laughing. “I like it. Why not? Let’s roll with it.”
Badgley is not short on nicknames. In college at Miami, they called him Jersey Mike — a tip of the cap to the New Jersey native who still carries the unique accent and bravado that his state is known for.
“We’ve got a lot of nicknames for him,” joked punter Donnie Jones. “He’s from the U [University of Miami], so Bleep Bleeping Mike Badgley from the U [laughs]. Money Mike, whatever — I think nicknames are one of the things with guys having fun, and you have to enjoy that.”
• AFC wild-card hunt: Who has inside track
• What’s at stake in Packers-Vikings rematch
• ‘Weird’ new wrinkle in Bengals-Browns
• Tales from Iraq trip with Harbaugh, Gruden
• Steelers latest test for Broncos’ defense
Badgley said he has always just wanted to be one of the guys. The 23-year-old kicker played lacrosse, hockey and football in high school, so he’s not a soccer player who was coaxed over to the football field because of his strong leg.
Badgley said he also played quarterback, running back, safety and punt returner in high school growing up in Summit, New Jersey.
“The way I’ve always kind of gone about it is to continue what I’ve always done in life, and that’s just be an athlete,” Badgley said. “I played three different sports [growing up], so it’s just taking that mindset from each one that I’ve gotten, and just carrying that over to this one.”
An undrafted rookie out of Miami, Badgley was a first-team, All-ACC selection his senior year, making 17 of 23 field goal attempts and 42 of 43 extra point tries.
The Indianapolis Colts signed Badgley as an undrafted free agent this offseason, and he made all five of his field goals (including a long of 51 yards) and all five of his extra points during the preseason. Badgley received some tutelage from one of the best kickers ever to play the game in Adam Vinatieri.
“Being around a pro like that who’s done it for so long and has been so great, anything you learn from that guy, of course you’re going to take it all in,” Badgley said. “In that preseason when I was there with him, I did exactly that. I took as much information that I could from that kind of guy — how to be around the facility, how to be a pro and how to go about practice.”
One of the things that Badgley is working on is getting more distance on kickoffs. Badgley has touchbacks on only four of his 23 kickoffs this season, worst in the NFL at 17.4 percent. Badgley has the leg to improve on kickoffs, booting a 60-yard field goal in practice.
He also has a mentor of sorts in Jones, who at 38 is 15 years Badgley’s senior with more than a decade of NFL experience to lean on serving as the team’s punter and holder.
“At the kicker position in general you have to have a strong makeup, and I see that,” Jones said. “He’s a rookie, but just the way he conducts himself at practice, he doesn’t let a lot affect him. And I think you can see that from the games he’s played here, he’s done a nice job.
“To have success in this league you have to have a short memory, really in both good and bad. Just go out to work each week, and he’s really done that. I think he has a really bright future in this league.”