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.
– 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.
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.
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)