After the long bye week, the Detroit Lions got back on the field as they traveled to California to take on the Los Angeles Chargers. With some extra time off, Detroit got healthy as multiple players were able to return this week as starting left guard Jonah Jackson and running back David Montgomery returned after missing multiple games.
Starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai is still dealing with a back injury and head coach Dan Campbell announced this week that Graham Glasgow has won the starting job over Vaitai, so Vaitai missing time is just more of a depth issue for the team.
It was a back-and-forth high-scoring game with defense being an option for both teams, as both offenses were moving the ball with ease. Check out our winners and losers are from the 41-38 win against the Los Angeles Chargers
Offensive coordinator Ben Johnson called a good game compared to the previous game against the Raiders. He didn't try and get cute with trick plays, he made great calls on the ground, and with the running game working well, it set up the pass and play action.
Johnson did a good job of calling the right play at the right time. He was able to pick apart the Charger's defense for most of the game and put his team in the best chance to win each play.
After having a career game against the Raiders, running back Jahmyr Gibbs continued to play well. He saw an increase in playing time despite Montgomery returning from injury, and he made his touches matter. Gibbs finished the game with a team-high 14 carries for 77 yards and two touchdowns, along with three catches for 35 yards.
Gibbs will continue to be a big weapon on the offense, even with Montgomery back. Gibbs isn’t the power back that Montgomery is, but he is the better receiving option, faster, and quicker than Montgomery. It took him a while to get his feet under him in the NFL, and now it appears he is ready and that is dangerous for the Lion’s opponents.
With Glasgow taking over the starting right guard job, the offensive line had all five starters together for the first time since Week 5, and the new starting five did a solid job overall. It’s crazy to think that the Lions haven’t had all five starters much this year and still, the group has been doing fine without one to two starters. The line protected quarterback Jared Goff well and helped him get time to throw the ball to where it needed to go, and he never got sacked.
It wasn’t just the passing game that the offensive line did well for, the running game was executed well with the blocking done by all five linemen. Detroit had a total of 533 yards of offense, with 333 by the passing game and 200 by the ground attack.
Even though the backup linemen have stepped up and done a fine job with the starters out, it’s a clear upgrade with all five of them in there. I’m glad that Campbell gave the starting job to Glasgow as he has played well in Vaitai’s absence and with Vaitai not able to be healthy, doesn’t make sense for him to start over someone who hasn’t missed any time this year due to an injury.
Another week where Goff played some good football, and while he wasn’t needed much with the running game taking off on the Chargers in the first half, he came up big in the second half. Goff finished the game going 23-for-33 for 333 yards with two touchdowns and had roughly one risky throw that was caught by wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Late in the third quarter after the Chargers tied the game up at 31, the Lions offense needed an answer and Goff did that, leading a touchdown drive where it was finished by tight end Brock Wright to retake the lead 38-31.
Amon-Ra St. Brown
I could put St. Brown as a winner every week if I wanted to, but to me, winners have to make plays that impact the game, good or bad and St. Brown made some big plays that helped the passing game. St. Brown finished with eight catches for a career-high 156 yards and a touchdown. He was a menace for the Chargers secondary and when the team needed a big play through the air, he came through.
With a slow start to his sophomore year, wide receiver Jameson Williams rebounded well against the Chargers. This year, Williams has struggled with catching the football as he has dropped deep passes and simple throws. This week, Williams didn’t have any drops and he would have scored on a screen pass, but left tackle Taylor Decker was flagged with a penalty. Williams had two catches for 18 yards.
Catching passes wasn’t the only thing that he did well, Williams had a huge block on the touchdown run by Montgomery and without his effort, Montgomery would have gotten hit out of bounds. It wasn’t a monster game for Williams, but it was a good week for him to rebound and be an effective player for the offense.
Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn had a rough game, with the biggest issue being his decision to cover Chargers wide receiver Keenan Allen. Glenn’s decision to not have cornerback Cam Sutton covering Allen for most of the game was annoying. Allen is the Charger’s number one receiver and with Mike Williams out for the season and rookie Quentin Johnston has been struggling. Allen is the main target outside of running back Austin Ekeler for Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, so he needs to have the top cornerback covering him.
If you slow down Allen in the passing game, the Chargers don’t have any other players that can be a threat and for some reason, Glenn didn’t want his best cornerback to match up against the Charger's best receiver. Cornerback Jerry Jacobs, linebacker Jack Campbell, and safety Kerby Joseph were given the task of covering Allen and all failed. No disrespect to Allen, he is a very talented wide receiver, but he didn’t have the best option going up against him and that is on Glenn. I get if your strategy isn’t having your top cornerback on their top wide receiver, but when the opposing offense doesn’t have a decent number two option, you have to run with that strategy in this game.
Allen finished the game with 11 catches for 175 yards and two touchdowns, with the other wide receivers combining for 12 catches for 100 yards and two touchdowns. If Sutton was on him during the whole game, I don’t think he has that big of an impact.
Front seven pressure
After getting six sacks against the Raiders, the Lions weren’t able to get to Herbert at all. Only two players were able to get some hits on Herbert, defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, and linebacker Alex Anzalone, but neither were for sacks. Herbert had all day to throw for most of the time, and the few times Herbert saw pressure, he wasn’t able to get taken down.
The defensive line did a good job in containing Herbert and his ability to run, holding him to just 15 yards on four carries. Like the Ravens game, while they did well in containing the quarterback to stop him from running, they left him with plenty of time to throw the ball. Detroit will have to adjust that in the future, as they didn’t seem to learn their lesson in the loss to the Ravens with the strategy for forcing a dual-threat quarterback to beat you through the air.