Eric D. Williams, ESPN Staff Writer 359d

Chargers defense focused on stopping Tyreek Hill, Kansas City playmakers

COSTA MESA, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Chargers know the numbers.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, since the NFL went to 12 playoff teams in 1990, just three teams who started 0-3 have made the playoffs: the 1998 Buffalo Bills, the 1995 Detroit Lions and the 1992 Chargers (who started 0-4).

The Chargers can also look to their own recent history for a positive sign in this year’s 0-2 start: The last time the Chargers started 0-2 was 2008, and they managed to sneak into the playoffs that year with an 8-8 record.

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said that despite the team’s bad start, players still believe they can rebound against the Kansas City Chiefs on Sunday.

"No one is flinching," Lynn said. "It’s a long season with a lot of football left to play. We’re just looking forward to going out and playing our best football."

Let’s take a look at a couple questions from this week’s mailbag.

@eric_d_williams: Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and special-teams coach George Stewart have the unenviable task of devising schemes to stop Tyreek Hill and the rest of Kansas City’s talented playmakers.

According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Chiefs five-man combo of Travis Kelce, Kareem Hunt, Chris Conley, Albert Wilson and Hill have combined for 449 yards from scrimmage through two games, the most of any five-man RB-WR-TE combo in the league. No other combo has more than 320.

Hill has been especially hard to corral. He’s scored nine touchdowns since Week 12 last season. According to ESPN Stats & Information, only Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (11) has more among non-quarterbacks in that span.

In two games against the Chargers last year, Hill returned a punt 95 yards for a score and had a 9-yard reception for a touchdown.

The Chargers have to know where Hill is at all times and keep him in front of the defense in order to limit his explosive plays. And on special teams, punter Drew Kaser has to kick away from Hill.

“It’s our ability to stay on top as a secondary and keep those explosive plays from happening, because that’s where they’re really getting their points,” Bradley said. “And we’ve seen it. One of my consistent stats is if you give up an explosive play within a series, the chances for an offense to score goes way up. The percentage is a lot higher.

“So we’re really going to have to try and eliminate the explosive plays. So staying back, breaking up and tackling well, and just using our base fundamentals.”

@eric_d_williams: At his core, Lynn is a former NFL running back who wants to run the football.

But he’s also preached being balanced and doing what’s most effective. Lynn understands that he has one of the most talented signal-callers in the game in Philip Rivers, who can get the Chargers in good plays at the line of scrimmage.

So that could very well mean going no-huddle and playing an up-tempo style to keep opposing defenses off balance, like the Chargers executed in the second half against the Miami Dolphins last week.

“I’ve always been a coach who takes whatever the defense gives you,” Lynn said. “But I do believe, at some point, you’re going to have to run the football to win. And the running game will travel, in all types of weather. You can’t always pass the ball. We do have to get the running game better.”

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