View from the other side: Lions vs. Chargers

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Chargers at Lions

►Kickoff: 1 p.m. Sunday, Ford Field, Detroit

►TV/radio: CBS/760

►Records: Chargers 1-0, Lions 0-0-1

►Line: Chargers by 2.5

View from the other side

Joe Reedy writes for the Associated Press in Los Angeles. He previously covered the Bengals for the Cincinnati Enquirer. He breaks down the Chargers for The Detroit News, answering five questions heading into Sunday’s game against the Lions. You can follow him on Twitter @joereedy.

►Question: When Hunter Henry went down last year, the Chargers eventually called Antonio Gates back to help fill the void. Talking to Anthony Lynn this week, that doesn't sound like the plan this time around. Gates or no Gates, how much will the offense suffer with Henry out?

►Reedy: It will suffer a little bit because Henry was one of Rivers’ favorite targets and Virgil Green is more of a blocking tight end. The bigger loss, though, might be if Mike Williams can’t play due to a knee injury. Without Henry and Williams, that means the Lions secondary can double Keenan Allen and Travis Benjamin more.

Austin Ekeler

►Question: Melvin Gordon's holdout doesn't seem likely to end this week, but in the meantime Austin Ekeler and Justin Jackson seem to be capably holding down the fort. What, if anything, are the Chargers not getting out of that tandem that Gordon would be providing?

►Reedy: If you watch a tape of last season and last week, you would swear there isn’t any difference. Ekeler had plenty of snaps last season and was the change-of-pace back. Now he is the main running back and also is picking up the catches in the backfield that Gordon would have received. I would envision Jackson being used more this week. He had only six carries last week with most coming in the first half. Of those six carries, though, two were for 10 or more yards.

►Question: Also on the injury front, Pro Bowl safety Derwin James is out with a foot injury. The Chargers had a little more time to prep for his absence. How is the team filling the void and how did that setup look Week 1 against the Colts?

►Reedy: Adrian Phillips is the starting strong safety. He has plenty of experience but like the rest of the defense missed some key tackles last week. The Chargers were awful against the run last week due to missed tackles and not staying in their lanes. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has preached being more disciplined this week.

Joey Bosa

►Question: Lions coach Matt Patricia and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have mentioned how the Chargers will move edge rushing tandem Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram around to maximize their impact. Can you explain a little more on how the Chargers utilize the tandem to get the most out of the pass rush?

►Reedy: There are some plays where the Chargers will overload and put Bosa and Ingram on the same side, which gives opposing offensive lines fits. The Chargers did that on a third down during the first half last week where Ingram basically had a fast pass lane to get to Jacoby Brissett. If the Chargers do the same thing this week, the Lions are going to have to make sure to leave a back in pass protection.

►Question: The Chargers win this game if?

►Reedy: They remain balanced on offense and don’t give up a 300-yard game to Matt Stafford. The balance part might be difficult this week due to the stacked front the Lions run. The Chargers are 0-2 since 2007 when allowing a 300-yard passing game. Being on the road does not faze this team. They have won nine of their last 10 regular-season road games and got wins last season in Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Kansas City.

Players to watch

►Joey Bosa, DE: The Lions gave up 22 quarterback pressures in the tie with the Cardinals, the most of any team in Week 1. Week 2 should not be any easier with Bosa on the edge of the Chargers’ defensive line. He has 29.5 sacks in 36 NFL games (34 starts).

►Desmond King, CB: The former Detroit East English Village star was an All-Pro in his second season with the Chargers in 2018, recording 62 tackles, 10 pass defenses and three interceptions. His 13.8-yard average on punt returns ranked third in the NFL.

►Philip Rivers, QB: The 37-year-old Rivers is off to a hot start in his contract season. He completed 25-of-34 passes for 333 yards and three TD in the Chargers’ Week 1 win over Indianapolis. He has thrown for at least 4,200 yards in each of the last six seasons.