Everyone knows that the number seven has been synonymous with luck for as long as many of us can remember.
This past Sunday, the Chargers put that luck to the test as they deployed a four defensive line, seven defensive back package for 98% of the snaps against the Ravens. With a normal front four consisting of Bosa, Ingram, and a rotation along the two interior positions, the Bolts sent out Hayward, King, Davis, and Jenkins at their true defensive back positions while utilizing Phillips, Addae, and James as their three linebackers in the middle.
They found enormous success at slowing down the Raven’s ground game by holding the entire team to just 90 yards rushing on the day.
The added athleticism severely outweighed the loss of mass in the middle of the defense while the length/height stayed virtually the same since guys like Addae and Phillips are the same height, if not, a smidge taller than Jatavis Brown and Denzel Perryman.
This type of package could find itself being the new trend in the coming years of the NFL if the Chargers can continue to find success while running it. I mean, if you think about it, the NFL is still a passing league and I’m pretty sure everyone and their mother would be packing the field with defensive backs if they could also be as effective stopping the run as they are the pass.
This is really the dream, isn’t it. When the front four can get as much pressure as they did against Lamar and Co., the rest of the defense is hard to beat. And after all, although this is still Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, this isn’t the same old Patriots team we have seen in years past.
S Adrian Phillips
Phillips continuing his hot-streak for the third game in a row as he was an integral part in keeping the Ravens down and out through most of Sunday’s game. That motivation from his Pro Bowl nod only intensified after the safety was named an All-Pro First-Team selection as a special teams player, as well.
Adrian started the game off in a big way,finding himself in the right spot at the right time to recover a Kenneth Dixon fumble off just a single bounce in the first quarter. Later on in the first half, Phillips corralled a rare Jackson interception off a tipped pass to Willie Snead.
No matter which schemes the Chargers use this Sunday at New England, the team will rely on Adrian Phillips to implement them. How an UDFA safety became one of the most important players on a defense with its fair share of stars: https://t.co/oEXz1HaBX8— Sam Fortier (@Sam4TR) January 10, 2019
His six total tackles were good for second on the team while his three passes defended paced the secondary.
DE/OLB Melvin Ingram
Ingram had the game of his life on Sunday as the charismatic edge rusher posted a pair of sacks to go along with a couple tackles-for-loss, two QB hits, seven total tackles, and the game-sealing fumble recovery.
Sure the postseason is only 1 week's of action – but Melvin Ingram's play was dominant enough to lead the way at his position pic.twitter.com/BSUolF1JrQ— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 10, 2019
Aside from getting constant pressure on Jackson, Ingram played the most complete game we have seen from him in some time. His ability to disrupt pulling linemen and tight ends in the run game were paramount in the Chargers ability to hold the entire Ravens team to just 90 yards rushing.
His elite grade of 90.2 among edge rushers in the postseason was also the number one performance, even topping Chicago’s Khalil Mack.
The magnificent cherry on top of this performance is that it was quite historic. According to Pro Football Reference, Ingram became the first player to put up this stat line since 1999, the year when all these individual stats were created.
Melvin Ingram had 7 solo tackles, 2 sacks, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery today.— ProFootballReference (@pfref) January 6, 2019
Since 1999, the first year we have all those individual defensive stats, no player has put up numbers like that in a playoff game https://t.co/qv7q8BCwn6 pic.twitter.com/LaVpnqY6EJ
CB Casey Hayward
Hayward hasn’t been his old self all year. This doesn’t exactly mean he’s been that terrible, either. Although he hasn’t shown up in the interception department at all this year, Hayward has been one of the best cornerbacks in the NFL on a yards-allowed-per-reception basis.
In such an important game for the Chargers. it was obviously a giant letdown to watch Hayward give up the only passing touchdowns thrown in this game.
With the score at a gleeful 23-3 with less than seven minutes left in the fourth quarter, one would think a three-score lead could sustain itself, especially with the way the Bolts had been bottling up the Ravens offense up to that point.
It was not to be.
With 6:33 on the clock, Hayward bit a little too hard on an underneath route and allowed Michael Crabtree to get behind him for a 31-yard touchdown pass to make the score 23-10.
With 1:59 left on the clock, the Ravens marched down into the Bolts’ red zone once again. Scrambling to his right on the Chargers seven-yard line, Jackson found Crabtree near the front-right pylon for his second touchdown of the game.
It was a frustrating outing for Hayward, to say the least, but he, and the rest of the team, have lived to fight another day.
TE Virgil Green
Green’s only reception of the evening came on a short pass which he took for about eight yards before meeting defenders. In the scrum, Green attempted to scratch and claw his way to a first down. He was unfortunately stripped in the process and the Ravens recovered, leading to the team’s first points of the game off a Tucker field goal.
Green will liklely see a regression in action with the return of Hunter Henry while being mitigated to a blocking-role for the rest of their time in the playoffs.