Los Angeles Chargers rookie safety Derwin James was sitting at his locker stall Sunday afternoon answering a question about the sack he made in the third quarter against the Buffalo Bills.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers walked by and said: “You should have had five, though!”
James was a heat-seeking missile in the Chargers’ 31-20 victory over the Bills. The first-round draft pick from Florida State rushed the passer on 11 of 41 pass plays and had two other run blitzes.
The Chargers had two sacks on those plays, limited Josh Allen to 3 of 8 passing for 33 yards. And a James blitz created a 6-yard loss on an aborted handoff for LeSean McCoy.
“That was the game plan: Go get ’em,” James said. “Coach told me all week. Go get ’em. I missed him about three times. He’s a big guy, strong guy. I told coach all week, if you’re going to blitz me, I’m going to get there.”
The Chargers had only blitzed on 4 of 30 pass plays in their Week 1 loss to Kansas City.
Said Chargers cornerback Casey Hayward: “This week we decided, hey, let’s put some pressure on the rookie. We’ve got a good blitzer in Derwin. I remember watching him in college blitz so much. He makes plays coming off the edge. He’s just a good football player.”
The Chargers did not show the Bills’ downfield passing attack enough respect. They played single-high safety looks a lot, either in blitzes or in dropping into Cover 3 zones.
The Bills can plan on seeing more of the same until they find ways to make attacking defenses pay.
Of course, the Chargers’ defense was playing from a position of strength because it had a big lead most of the game. The young Bills offense doesn’t have a chance when the defense gives up touchdowns on four of the first five possessions, as it did against the Chargers.
Overall, the Chargers blitzed – sent five or more pass rushers – on 11 of 41 drop-backs (27 percent). They had a defensive back join a four-man rush – challenging Allen’s ability to read an unaccounted-for rusher – on five other plays.
Allen was sacked five times but four of them were mostly the fault of the quarterback not finding his hot receiver or throwing it away.
Allen was 3 of 8 for 46 yards on the blitzes, with two sacks and a 14-yard scramble.
Below is a clip showing how tough a matchup James is for blockers, as he runs through Bills back Marcus Murphy to force an incompletion.