So, funny story.
I actually wrote this article on Wednesday, used it on my podcast (go subscribe tothe Powder Blue Review), and totally forgot to post it.
My bad, ya’ll.
Anyways, since it’s so close to kickoff, I’m not going to put it off anymore with a long-winded introduction. Just know that this game is going to potentially be electric and a high-scoring affair. Get ready for the fireworks, but first, grab your favorite drink and give this a read to prime your gameday experience.
1.) Can the Chargers’ tandem of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram take advantage of a lackluster Texans offensive line?
Last year, no other quarterback was sacked more than Deshaun Watson. Through the first two weeks of the season, he is still the most sacked quarterback in the NFL, having been brought down 10 times.
Even after trading a king’s ransom for left tackle Laremy Tunsil, the Texans offensive line still resembles a revolving door.
With Bosa back at full-health, and Ingram still in the prime of his career, there’s really no excuse for the Chargers to fail to get to Watson on more than one occasion.
Last week, the Chargers defensive front went up against a Lions front five that was missing starting left tackle Jack Conklin. They proceeded to record zero sacks on Matthew Stafford in what was probably one of their juicier match-ups on the schedule.
2.) Who will step-up at Strong Safety?
With safety/linebacker Adrian Phillips now sidelined by a broken forearm, the replacement to All-Pro safety Derwin James now needs a replacement of his own.
Looking at the roster, the first name that comes to mind is Jaylen Watkins, a seasoned player that Coach Lynn has continuously raved about as one of the most versatile players on the roster. Lynn has stated that Watkins could play cornerback, free safety, nickel corner, and just about any other position in the secondary. However, it may not be Watkins who gets the call to start on Sunday against the Texans.
During Wednesday’s post-practice presser, Lynn said that UDFA Roderic Teamer, who is now healthy and a full participant in practice this week, could very well earn the start at strong safety opposite Rayshawn Jenkins.
The 6-foot-0, 205-pound defender out of Tulane was one of a handful of former undrafted free agents that made the team following training camp this year. Now, in a similar situation to former-Chargers, now-Texans safety Jahleel Addae, Teamer has the chance to earn a starting role with an NFL club after going undrafted in April.
Regardless of who gets the starting nod on Sunday, the secondary will be tested over and over again against a Texans wide receiver that includes All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins, and dynamic complements Will Fuller and Kenny Stills.
3.) Can a depleted secondary have any chance of limiting WR DeAndre Hopkins?
Following the loss of Adrian Phillips, the Chargers secondary is now down four of its’ top defenders, including cornerbacks Trevor Williams (IR), Michael Davis (hamstring), and safety Derwin James (foot).
What’s left is a group of defenders that would leave 99 percent of casual fans asking, “Who?”
For reference, here are the current defensive backs left on the active roster:
- Casey Hayward Jr.
- Desmond King
- Brandon Facyson
- Rayshawn Jenkins
- Jaylen Watkins
- Roderic Teamer
- Dontae Johnson
I don’t know about you guys, but outside of Hayward and King, nothing in that group inspires much confidence against one of the league’s most dangerous groups of pass-catchers.
After posting an 8-111-2 line against the New Orleans Saints, Hopkins was held to just 40 yards on five catches by cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who is arguably the best lockdown corner in the league. However, the Chargers do not have a player of that caliber on the roster, although Hayward is not a slouch in the slightest. I’m also not entirely sure if Hayward will shadow Hopkins the entire game, but it may be the team’s best option.