While the Los Angeles Chargers didn’t come down with a win in Detroit, there were still bright spots.
The defensive backs for the Chargers have been under fire from fans and media alike due to Derwin James and Trevor Williams both landing on injured reserve earlier in the season, but they performed on Sunday.
The Chargers may have struggled to score, shooting themselves in the foot constantly against the Lions, but the defensive backs on the other side kept the team in the game. Casey Hayward and Rayshawn Jenkins both snagged picks on deep passes down the field, and Brandon Facyson looked worlds better than he did when he was thrown into last week’s game.
Desmond King, meanwhile, hasn’t even been tested, with teams opting to avoid him entirely.
Hayward is the first highlight here, with the former Pro Football Focus Defensive Player of the Year snagging an interception from Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on a pass deep left to wide receiver Kenny Golladay. Offensive pass interference was called on the play, but Hayward still was able to somehow keep his eyes on the ball and grab it before it bounced to the ground.
Hayward did a great job against Golladay throughout the game, helping to keep the Lions very limited in what they were able to do offensively to keep the Chargers in the game. Still, the interception was one of the more impressive plays by Hayward in awhile, and it was refreshing to see the star cornerback finally get that turnover fans have been waiting for.
Up next is a player that most fans have already come to dislike in Facyson, who quietly played one of the most impressive games the Chargers have gotten from an outside cornerback not named Hayward since Williams in 2017.
Facyson consistently closed in on the short passes and disrupted plays before they could get by the first down markers, not to mention he rarely gave the receivers enough separation to be a valid target for Stafford. One of the passes completed against Facyson was in extremely tight coverage and needed to be threaded by a needle.
Those who say it was an awful play by Facyson, there is obviously no need bring up the play last year when Jared Goff did the same to Hayward and James.
The last cornerback to highlight before the safeties are brought up is King, who absolutely killed it in covering Danny Amendola and T.J. Hockenson. Neither player made an impact against King, who limited both of those players combined to one reception for eight yards. Eight. The week prior? Those two combined for 14 receptions for 242 yards and two touchdowns. Yeah. King is the best. Enough said.
Adrian Phillips played very well, aiding King in limiting the Lions’ playmakers from the slot. Phillips, unfortunately, injured himself late in the game, attempting to tackle Kerryon Johnson during a screen pass. Phillips was placed on injured reserve and is a candidate to return. It is a huge blow to the defense, especially with James already on injured reserve himself.
Lastly, Jenkins played pretty well. While he may not show the desired range from a free safety, he has been physical coming downhill to finish plays. While he missed a few plays and tackles against the Lions, Jenkins made a play to redeem himself.
While it didn’t take range and the instincts were a little sketchy, Jenkins tracked the ball well and attacked it better than the players around him on a throw from Stafford who just didn’t seem to see Jenkins. It was a solid play from Jenkins, and you can only hope it’s just the start for him.
There were a couple of other considerations for position group of the week, mainly being the running backs and the offensive line. Unfortunately, Keenan Allen does not count as a position group, otherwise, he would have won.
At the end of the day, though, the defense kept the Chargers in this game, and the defensive backs were the highlight of the defense. So with that, a round of applause for this week’s winners!