Brandon Facyson has come off the bench for Chargers and tackled all defensive assignments
Brandon Facyson trails only surging, play-making rookie lineback Drue Tranquill in tackles over the last two weeks.
During that span, Facyson has collected two more stops than linebacker Thomas Davis, the Chargers’ leader in that category and a 15-year veteran who has a chance to set a single-season career high in tackles.
That’s pretty notable production for a cornerback never drafted and playing only because someone else couldn’t.
“It’s a lot of want-to,” said Facyson. “You gotta be able to just say, ‘Forget it,’ and put your nose in there. Even if I don’t make the tackle fully, I’m going to try to hit something.”
In his second NFL season, Facyson filled in admirably when Michael Davis was suspended for violating the league’s policy on substance abuse. With Davis now back, Facyson figures to return mostly to special teams this weekend against Minnesota.
He did, however, continue to show the Chargers he at least can provide valuable depth for a team that has suffered a bounty of injuries in 2019.
“What really stood out first and foremost for us was his ability to tackle,” defensive coordinator Gus Bradley said. “He’s been a very, very good tackler. I think that’s something that you don’t take for granted.
Chargers rookie defensive lineman Jerry Tillery has had only 12 tackles and 1 1/2 sacks over 12 games.
“When you evaluate corners, [it’s] ‘Are they a poor tackler, a willing tackler or a really good tackler?’… Anytime you get a corner that can tackle like he did in the game [Sunday], that’s a great benefit.”
One week after leading the Chargers with nine tackles against Denver, Facyson made five more stops in a 45-10 victory at Jacksonville, his effort helping slow the Jaguars’ running game.
When Davis suffered a hamstring injury in the season opener, Facyson filled in for most of the three games and totaled 20 tackles.
Asked what has impressed him most about Facyson’s play this season, coach Anthony Lynn went right to the obvious.
“His physicality in the run game,” Lynn said. “I love the way he’s stepped up and taken on blocks and made plays.”
Facyson signed with the Chargers in May of 2018 after being undrafted coming out of Virginia Tech. He made the roster because of his abilities on special teams. He appeared in 15 games, playing only six defensive snaps all season.
Thomas Davis served as the Chargers’ unofficial offensive coordinator — at least for one play — during the team’s blowout win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.
But suddenly thrust into a more prominent role when Davis was injured in the first game this season, Facyson survived following a few shaky moments. After he entered against Indianapolis back in September, the Colts immediately attacked him in the passing game with success.
While settling into playing more, Facyson said he has noticed opponents targeting him less.
“It’s all a building process or a learning process,” he said. “I just have to keep showing up and playing for my guys and everything will work out.”
Lynn said Davis will return to the starting lineup Sunday against the Vikings, but he also said Facyson will continue to receive reps in practice.
“He’s shown flashes,” Lynn said of Facyson’s ability to bolster the run defense. “But seeing him back-to-back weeks and him being consistent at it, that’s been impressive.”
No team in the NFL blitzes less often than the Chargers. They’ve blitzed on only 15.3% of the opponents’ drop-backs through 13 games.
Jacksonville blitzes twice as much and a failed all-out blitz Sunday is what led to Austin Ekeler’s 84-yard touchdown on a screen pass. Quarterback Philip Rivers released the ball just before he was hit by Jaguars defensive end Yannick Ngakoue.
Ekeler caught the ball on the right side of the formation and ran nearly the length of the field without being touched.
“If you have a screen like that in empty and they’re in blitz-zero, it’s pretty good,” offensive coordinator Shane Steichen said. “There’s no deep safety, and they’re bringing the house. You have to get one guy blocked and we had them all blocked. The linemen were out blocking. It was a heck of a team effort there.”
Chargers tight end Hunter Henry has 43 catches for 536 yards and four scores this season, a bit underwhelming for the fourth-year pro who has huge potential.
After the play — and after Ngakoue helped Rivers to his feet — the veteran quarterback was picked up by microphones screaming “Ninety-yard touchdown!” at the Jacksonville defense and Ngakoue, in particular.
The two players then engaged in a spirited back-and-forth that became an instant classic on social media.
“Shoot, you never know who’s mic’d up these days, I guess,” Rivers said this week. “But, yeah, I was. Certainly, it was fun to be excited. We’ve been through a rough stretch. It was an all-around fun day.”
Linebacker Uchenna Nwosu is the Chargers’ nominee for the 2019 Walter Payton man of the year award. … Defensive back Tevaughn Campbell re-signed and was placed on the practice squad. … Nwosu (ankle) and wide receiver Mike Williams (knee) are the only players dealing with ailments that require their inclusion on the injury report this week. Both were limited in practice Thursday.
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