It was clear things were different from the first play of the game. And the Chargers knew it.
They threw a huge curveball to the Ravens yesterday, spending nearly the entire game in a seven-defensive back package, including the first snap of the game.
“The momentum of the defense rose from there,” James told Peter King of NBC’s Football Morning in America. “When that play happened, we just got so jacked.”
The idea was first broached by Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley last week, and was unconventional to say the least. Against run-heavy teams, many coaches want to be bigger. But the Chargers were a bit shorthanded at linebacker (Jatavis Brown was out with an ankle), so Bradley floated the idea to head coach Anthony Lynn to trade power for speed.
“Are we insane, or what?” Lynn replied.
As it turns out, they weren’t, but the results were crazy. They held the Ravens to 229 total yards, 90 on the ground. In the seven games since Jackson took over for an injured Joe Flacco, they were averaging nearly 230 rushing yards per game.
“I wasn’t sure how this was gonna hold up,” Lynn said. “They were running for 300 yards lots of games with Lamar playing. Gus felt like getting speed on the field could help contain Lamar. It could help in the passing game, dropping back and taking over routes that our linebackers usually cover. It worked. Our guys, they embraced it. It was risky, but it paid off. We’re talking about going up against a rushing attack that no one can stop right now. And we’re gonna do it with two 200-pound guys?”
It will be harder to catch Patriots coach Bill Belichick off guard, but the Chargers can also do a lot of different things with such a versatile defender as James and constant pressure coming from their front.