DET-SD grades: Rough start for Lions’ Stafford-Johnson connection

Lions QB Matthew Stafford and WR Calvin Johnson connected only twice in Sunday's loss to the Chargers.

| 1 year ago
(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

(AP Photo/Lenny Ignelzi)

DET-SD grades: Rough start for Lions’ Stafford-Johnson connection

Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Sunday’s Lions-Chargers game.

Detroit Lions

– Despite a fast start that resulted in an 18-point lead in the second quarter, the Lions couldn’t take advantage as the offense stalled in the second half. That was in part due to a lack of downfield passing; QB Matthew Stafford (-0.6) completed only three of his 10 passes thrown more than 1o yards downfield, and he especially struggled to connect with his top receiver, Calvin Johnson (0.9), who finished the game with only two receptions. Pressure was also a factor, as Stafford faced heat on 38.7 percent of his drop backs (only five QBs saw more frequent pressure on Sunday) with a -1.0 grade and 37.5 accuracy percentage on those plays.

– Defensively, the Lions limited the Chargers to 3.2 yards per carry on the ground, a good result considering the offseason departure of tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley. DT Haloti Ngata (0.0) was double-teamed often and proved difficult to move, while another offseason addition, DT Tyrunn Walker (+1.8), put forth an impressive display after two seasons of good production in limited snaps with the Saints. Walker logged a career-high 57 snaps, collected seven pressures, and frequently squeezed the pocket with effective bull rushes against Chargers’ LG Orlando Franklin (-0.6) and C Chris Watt (-6.8).

– His fourth quarter fumble aside, rookie RB Ameer Abdullah (+0.4) provided a solid outing for the Lions (94 yards on just 11 touches). Check out 10:53 of the first quarter and 9:21 of the third quarter for his best plays. It will be interesting to see how the Lions continue to get him the ball going forward.

Top Performers:

LB Josh Bynes (+2.2)
DE Jason Jones (+1.8)
DT Tyrunn Walker (+1.8)
DE Phillip Hunt (+1.7)
RG Manuel Ramirez (+1.6)

San Diego Chargers

– QB Philip Rivers (+1.5) rallied the Chargers after a slow start, blitzing the Lions defense with screens and short passes. While his 92.7 accuracy percentage was the highest of any QB on Sunday (85.7 percent when pressured), 32 of his 41 attempts were thrown behind or within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage with his passes travelling less than 4 yards in the air, on average. It was nevertheless effective, as he frequently hit WR Keenan Allen (+1.7) (often on a shallow crossing route), who saw 11 more targets than any other player. The two combined for eight first downs and an average again of 9.8 yards.

– The game did not provide an encouraging start for the Chargers offensive line, which is coming off of a rough 2014 season. C Chris Watt (-6.8) and LG Orlando Franklin (-0.6) combined to allow more than 10 pressures. The only impressive member of the unit, RG D.J. Fluker (+2.2), was carted off of the field with an ankle injury.

– After an impressive—but injury-shortened—rookie season (+8.1 overall grade in 230 snaps), CB Jason Verrett (+2.5) showed no signs of slowing down after surrendering just one reception for 6 yards. Offseason acquisition CB Patrick Robinson (+1.7) also chipped in with an interception and forced fumble playing from the slot. Overall, it was a solid display from the San Diego secondary.

Top Performers:

CB Jason Verrett (+2.5)
RG D.J. Fluker (+2.2)
WR Keenan Allen (+1.7)
CB Patrick Robinson (+1.7)
QB Philip Rivers (+1.5)

  • Blatant_Bolt

    Makes you wonder what the chargers offense with a decent O-line would look like. Rivers in 2010 with a decent line and almost nobody decent catching the ball was great (Gates injured, no VJ, new guys off the street each week).

    • MachoMenos

      All of the O-line were roasted in the first quarter. However, they fought their way back admirably but, as usual, PFF makes it seem like Philip did it all by himself.

    • bnak

      I’m guessing Watt changing to guard in the latter half didn’t help his grade. He might’ve been average/below average as a C.

  • Kofi Bonney

    Please explain to me the grade you gave Rashean Mathis? Keenan Allen ROASTED him! I expected the grade to be one of the lowest ever for a corner.

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    • abe

      Mathis was only responsible for 7 of the catches made by Allen, the rest were zone coverage or someone else manned up. And I believe all but one were short passes that didn’t give up many yards.

      • terry welsh

        Yeah, that LB hung him out to dry.

  • MachoMenos

    Like I said in the article for top performers of the week, this is why I didn’t subscribe this year (besides the hike in price this year-yikes!). Keenan caught 15 of the 17 passes thrown his way but only gets a +1.5 because they were shallow crossing routes? Never mind that he turned a 3rd and nineteen into a first down with one of those shallow crossing routes and picked up 1st down after first down. Verrett got a nice +2.5 but he allowed two receptions but held Tate short of the first down on both occasions. Besides that, he completely shut down Tate for the entire game besides being on an island against him almost the entire game and he stopped anything that went his way in the run game.

    Add to that the fact that the play of Melvin Ingram and the rookie Kyle Emmanuel was not even mentioned and you can count my love affair with Pro Football Focus as over.

    • terry welsh

      That 3rd and 19 run was the last nail in the Lion’s coffin too.

  • citizen nada nada

    The Chargers, Cards both have exactly what you need to shut down Tate in the form of quick twitchy all pro CBs, the question is why didn’t Johnson exploit the height advantage closer to the line of scrimmage and dominate like Keenan Allen did if his oline couldn’t provide time to throw? Oline, coaching cause of week 1 loss… The Lions had the offensive personnel to win this game and lost

  • terry welsh

    How did Suh get such a high rating this week when he played like crap? He had one solo tackle and a hurry.