Nowadays, defense doesn’t get any love. Even in an age where stats and analytics are reigning supreme, excellent defenders are getting swept under the rug for their offensive — and big name — counterparts. It’s hard to blame this thought process, especially when we see players like Pat Mahomes lead a 21-point comeback in a matter of moments. To be frank, young defenders have a helluva time trying to make a name for themselves. It becomes even harder when on a team full of household names. This is where Charvarius Ward finds himself.
As an UDFA, Ward was signed by the Cowboys and then traded to Kansas City before the start of the 2018 season. At the time, no one expected Ward to be anything more than depth at the cornerback position. But as was the case when Drew Bledsoe went down for the Patriots; an injury made way for a star to shine. Once Ward was thrust into a starting role, his inaugural season took the regular bumps and bruises one would expect in a rookie year. When the Chiefs made the playoffs Andy Reid gave him the nod to start. While Charvarius didn’t have the best outing, his four pass deflections showed that he had the ability to disrupt offenses.
The following week is an infamous one for Chiefs’ fans as the Patriots came to Arrowhead for the AFCCG. While the game didn’t go as planned, Ward quietly played well; allowing 3 catches for 26 yards. But his night could have been incredible. Forgotten in the furor of the offsides penalty was the man who made the interception that would’ve clinched the game for Kansas City. That man was Charvarius Ward. Though the loss may have stung, the opportunity sparked a fire in the man from Middle Tennessee State.
The first game of the 2019 year was an aberration of what would otherwise be a spectacular season for Ward. Giving up 8 targets, 8 catches, 150 yards, and a touchdown is hardly the performance of someone poised for a breakout campaign. But for the remainder of the year, Ward would give up only an average of 25.75 yards per game without surrendering a touchdown. His completion percentage allowed per target (at 47.2%) ranked 3rd among defenders who were targeted at least 50 times during the regular season; while his passer rating allowed when targeted ranked 12th under the same criteria. He wasn’t doing this against replacement-level players, either.
- Kenny Golladay – 3 catches on 7 targets, 46 yards
- DeAndre Hopkins – 3 catches on 4 targets, 16 yards with 1 INT
- Courtland Sutton – 2 catches on 11 targets, 36 yards (in 2 games)
- Stefon Diggs – 2 catches on 7 targets, 19 yards, 1 PD
- Mike Williams – 1 catch on 9 targets, 50 yards, 2 PD
- Allen Robinson – 5 catches on 8 targets, 35 yards
The only player outside of Chris Conley (week 1) that Charvarius allowed to surpass 50 yards was the Titans’ A.J. Brown — who had 89. Ward would have the last laugh however, as he would only allow 1 catch on 4 targets for 15 yards when Tennessee and the Chiefs met again in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. Kansas City won that game and the rest is history.
Not many people would have expected an UDFA would help provide stability in the secondary. Now a Superbowl Champion, Ward will look to continue on the success of last year. If he can show that it wasn’t a fluke, he will be an essential piece moving forward for the Chiefs; in age, contract, and skill. So while adversity can dull even the brightest, true stars will always rise to the occasion. And perhaps we have just witnessed one come to form.