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3 Good Things: San Diego Chargers vs. Detroit Lions

The San Diego Chargers looked so good against the Detroit Lions, during the second half anyway, that it's difficult to pick just three good things to focus on.

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Balance

During yesterday's Squadcast, Ben Higgins brought up a pretty amazing stat. Against the Detroit Lions, the San Diego Chargers had thrown for over 400 yards while also rushing the ball 30 times.

"I can't imagine that has happened very often," the delightful Mr. Higgins proclaimed.

He's right and wrong, based upon your own opinion of "very often". Since the year 2000, it has happened 23 times. So, a little more than once per season. Considering there are 256 games per regular season (plus the playoffs), this is actually quite rare.

It's interesting to look at those 23 games, though. Here are some things that stand out:

  • The last team to do it was the Pittsburgh Steelers last season, when they beat the Indianapolis Colts 51-34.
  • Teams putting up this type of offensive balance have gone 20-2-1 in those 23 games.
  • 6 of those 23 games have gone into overtime, which obviously results in more time and more plays.
  • None of those 23 offenses had a QB that threw 3 interceptions in the game, but 6 of them had a QB that threw 2 interceptions (including Philip Rivers on Sunday).
  • The Chargers did it not that long ago, in a 2013 overtime win in Philadelphia against the Eagles.
  • The Chargers had it done to them in 2002 by the Seattle Seahawks.
  • The Chargers actually accomplished this feat 3 times between 1980-1985, which is incredible.

So, yeah. Offensive balance rocks and the Chargers were on top of it on Sunday. The running game looked great, the passing game looks great after knocking some rust off, and Frank Reich and Mike McCoy did a great job of jabbing with one to set up the hook with the other.

Josh Lambo

Josh Lambo's leg, seen for an entire game for the first time ever in the NFL, looked like Michael Vick's arm. I'm shocked he didn't kick a ball all the way to Carson.

On average, the Lions started their drives from the 30 yard time. That's good for 24th best in the league after one week. That's bad. However, it would've been much worse with Nick Novak kicking off when you consider that the coverage team was giving up 35 yards per kick return and 17 yard per punt return. Those are atrocious numbers.

Here are how Lambo's kickoffs went:

  • Touchback
  • 5 yards into the end zone, returned for 48 yards by Ameer Abdullah
  • Touchback
  • Touchback
  • Touchback
  • 8 yards into the end zone, returned for 34 yards by Ameer Abdullah
  • 6 yards into the end zone, returned for 23 yards by Ameer Abdullah

Lambo's leg probably prevented at least one disaster by kicking more touchbacks and non-touchbacks, and the coverage unit apparently got better as the game went along.

I am surprisingly not worried about this kickoff coverage unit at all, and I think it's mostly because of Lambo.

Johnny Freakin' Pagano!

Remember that one year when Ted Cottrell seemed great? The 2007 Chargers? That team won 12 of 14 games and looked a lot like this one. Shawne Merriman and Shaun Phillips were racking up the sacks, Antonio Cromartie and Clinton Hart were racking up the fumbles, and everyone was happy.

Every team is going to have weaknesses. I thought Donald Butler and Manti Te'o played okay but not great. I thought the defensive line outside of Corey Liuget looked suspect. I think that none of that matters because of how great the secondary and pass rush was.

To his credit, Johnny Freakin' Pagano played to his team's strengths and confused the hell out of the Lions offense. Look at how badly he had them fooled:

I don't know if Pagano is actually getting any better, but with two shutdown corners and a healthy Melvin Ingram, it may not matter.