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    Chargers tackle bigger challenge in Lions QB Jared Goff
    • November 10, 2023

    COSTA MESA — Tyson Bagent was an NFL quarterback for all of two games when the Chargers faced him and the Chicago Bears on Oct. 29 at SoFi Stadium. Zach Wilson had played a modest total of 29 games when he and the New York Jets played host to the Chargers last Monday night.

    Jared Goff of the Detroit Lions will play his 109th regular-season game when he takes his first snap against the Chargers on Sunday. He’s played in six playoff games, including the Super Bowl following the 2018 season, while with the Rams. He’s been picked for the Pro Bowl three times.

    Bottom line: Now it gets significantly more difficult for the Chargers.

    “He’s really tough,” Chargers coach Brandon Staley said of the Rams’ former No. 1 overall draft pick. “He’s smart. He’s really accurate with the football. He has played in a lot of really good offensive systems. You can see it. Now, he’s just older. He has a lot of years under his belt. You can see that experience helping the offense in Detroit.”

    Staley had a daily up-close look at Goff when both were with the Rams. Staley was the Rams’ defensive coordinator during the 2020 season before the Chargers hired him to be their head coach before the 2021 season. Goff played 69 games with the Rams between 2016 and ‘20.

    The Rams then traded Goff to the Lions for Matthew Stafford on March 18, 2021, in what has turned out to be a win-win situation for each team. The Rams got their Super Bowl championship with Stafford as their quarterback after the 2021 season, and the Lions became competitive again with Goff at the helm.

    “I have a ton of respect for Jared,” Staley said. “I’m close with him. He’s been an outstanding quarterback since he came into the league. Certainly, that run he went on with the Rams, (taking them to the) Super Bowl, playoffs every year, one of the top passers in the NFL over the course of four years. Now, what he’s been able to do in Detroit for that team, where they started in Detroit to now, he’s been a winner.”

    The Lions were 3-13-1 in 2021, Goff’s first season after the trade.

    They were 9-8 last season.

    They are 6-2 so far this season.

    “They’re really balanced,” Staley said of the impact Goff has had on the Lions’ offense since his arrival. “There is the threat of the run game on every snap. They have different types of running backs. They have really upgraded that position. David (Montgomery) and (Jahmyr) Gibbs are playing at a really high level. They play with a lot of different tight end groupings.

    “They have receivers that really fit their style of play. They really force you to defend everybody on the field. They have a lot of different guys who touch the football. Jared has a lot of experience playing that way. That’s how he played with (Coach) Sean (McVay) with the Rams, and that is how he is playing now. He is playing really smart football and he is getting the ball to his playmakers.”

    The Chargers haven’t had success defending veteran quarterbacks so far this season. Three of their four victories have come against novice quarterbacks, including Bagent and Wilson. Their fourth victory was against Kirk Cousins of the Minnesota Vikings, needing a game-saving interception in the end zone to win.

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    It would be easy to say that Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs picked the Chargers apart in their 31-17 loss on Oct. 22, but the Super Bowl champions scored only seven points after halftime. It was the start of a run in which the Chargers have given up only 26 points in the past 10 quarters.

    So, how do the Chargers neutralize Goff and the Lions on Sunday?

    Can they continue their defensive success for a third consecutive week?

    “What I’ve seen the last two weeks, specifically, is just us playing with the right energy from the first whistle to the last one,” Staley said. “I just think that in all three levels of the defense, we’ve played consistent football. We’ve done the things that winning defenses do, starting with the run game, and how you rush the quarterback, how you defend the passing game, keeping the ball in front of you.

    “We’re just at the beginning. This group continues to improve. Just one week at a time for this group, but we’ve made improvement.”

    ​ Orange County Register