Fresh off their first win of the year, the Oakland Raiders travel to Los Angeles. In the Chargers, the Raiders encounter a familiar foe. Yet, the defense does not feel like previous defenses. Although the Chargers sit and 2-2, this defense feels rather loaded. Yet, with Joey Bosa expected to sit due to injury. The Raiders will still need to execute.
As mentioned, DE Joey Bosa will not play. The standout pass rusher continues to suffer from a lingering foot injury. That may be the only break the Raiders catch. In his place, second-year end Isaac Rochell grabs the start. Rochell possesses the ability to stop the run. Under those circumstances, look for Melvin Ingram to flow from OLB to DE. With Ingram on the outside, the Chargers will attempt to attack the Raiders with just four. If the Raiders want to minimize Ingram, either pound Lynch or use Richard in the screen game. Facing two rookie tackles will force the Chargers to pick a side with Ingram.
While the Chargers possess size upfront, they chose to use smaller, faster linebackers to cover. Jatavis Brown and Denzel Perryman may not be household names, but they cover ground. Either can work underneath and shut down the short to intermediate passing game. However, each is very small and will have a rough time, shedding blocks and tackling Marshawn Lynch. In fact, this is the most favorable matchup the Raiders will enjoy on Sunday. Behind that offensive line, facing the 18th-ranked run defense means a steady dose of smashmouth football.
The X Factor
Yesterday, Jon Gruden mentioned wanting to draft Derwin James instead of Kolton Miller. Despite Gruden’s habit of throwing Reggie McKenzie under the bus, his point remains valid. Few players affect a defense in so many ways. First, James, a natural safety, shows the ability to cover backs, receivers, and tight ends. Next, he will tackle with authority and support the run. Lastly, James can rush the passer. Granted, most people see a safety blitzes and imagine reckless rushing. However, James breaks down well and actually makes the play. Wherever he lines up, the Raiders need a hat on him. Allowing him any freedom will wreck the gameplan. If the need arises, erase him with rub routes to force his hand.
Without Joey Bosa, the Chargers will look less threatening on defense. However, Derwin James’ versatility will give them chances to exploit mismatches. The Raiders could win, if they negate him.