Around the NFL  

 

Chargers' speedy, secret plan stopped Ravens

Print

The Los Angeles Chargers' formula for stopping Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens' potent rushing attack was to get speed on the field.

According to Next Gen Stats, the Chargers used seven defensive backs on 58 of 59 D snaps (98.3 percent) versus the Ravens in the Wild Card round. Across the NFL this season, there were only 353 total defensive plays with seven DBs on the field (50 by the Chargers) -- L.A. allowed 3.9 yards per play with seven DBs versus the Ravens.

"It was top secret," Desmond King said of the game plan, via the team's official website.

Essentially using safeties Jahleel Addae and Derwin James as in-the-box linebackers allowed the Chargers to get more speed on the field to combat Jackson's running.

"It really worked," corner Casey Hayward said. "Put some speed on the field. It worked. I think our front four did a phenomenal job all game. Those guys dominated. We knew if we came in here and stopped the run, we were going to win the game."

The Chargers got away with less beef on the field because the defensive line did a good job keeping blockers off the smaller defensive backs and tackling runners in space. If the front four isn't eating up blockers, those smaller, speedier players could get swallowed up.

"We knew (early) that that was the route that we were going to go in," Adrian Phillips said of playing seven DBs. "It was a great job by our whole defense to buy into it, and that's what (we) did. Nobody was selfish. Nobody was butthurt. They just said, 'Hey, this is the best chance we have to win.' The coaches felt like this was the best chance we had to win, and we went with it."

Credit for the game plan goes to Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Coach Anthony Lynn relayed to NBC Sport's Peter King that he initially asked "Are we insane, or what?" when told of the plan by Bradley.

Insane they were not.

"The game plan was superior," Damion Square said. "We pretty much knew what was going on on all cylinders. (We) played really fast. That's why the first half looked like that. It was real dominant. We had some good keys.

We played these guys before. These guys haven't changed too much. That was two weeks ago. That's what happened."

Some will extrapolate the Chargers game plan will show how others will go about stopping Jackson and the rest of the Ravens run-game moving forward. Not every team has a Derwin James -- or other personnel -- to get the job done.

Moves and counter moves.

Perhaps the Chargers provided an initial blueprint, but the Ravens have an entire offseason to counter that scheme, which includes Jackson improving as a passer.

Print