A big thank you and shoutout to my colleague and good friend Cam Mellor from our sister site, Silver & Black Pride, for answering this week’s questions.
The Chargers are finally playing an AFC West team for the second time, so some of these answers may be the same as before. However, a lot can change with the NFL and specific teams in the span of six weeks.
Go on and dive right in to get refreshed on this week’s opponent ahead of Thursday night.
1.) To start, how has this Raiders team changed since their last meeting with the Chargers?
Well the obvious answer is the defense has been downright terrible, but again, that’s obvious because of the third question you ask. Other than that, I will say the passing attack (save for the Falcons game) has seemed to improve with the game against the Chargers seemingly as the tipping point. They’ve really connected and improved their chemistry with the ole forward pass and it’s certainly worked to score some points, even if that’s been outdone by a terrible defensive effort.
2.) The Raiders have dropped three of their last four games, Prior to this skid, they were winners of three in a row. What’s the overall mindset regarding this team with three games remaining in the 2020 regular season?
The team is still relatively the same: They’re still a good team and have a good shot at the playoffs if they can get back to winning the final three. The fans, however, are completely different: It’s time to move on to 2021, plan for the draft, look for free agents. The ship has sailed on this season in the fan’s point of view and to be honest, the win over the Jets didn’t do anything to help their cause either.
3.) The team just fired defensive coordinator Paul Guenther following their loss to the Colts where they allowed 44 points, the second-most in a game this season. Were the Raiders right in firing him? After all, the offense has an additional $50 million spent on it compared to the defense.
Guenther was always going to be the scapegoat and as much as you’d like to point fingers at more money on offense or less personnel on defense, it comes down to one thing: The team brought in and had players that were playing much better football prior to this season. If it’s a one-off scenario where one pro is having a bad season, that’s one thing, but the resounding issue is that there were multiple players who were not playing up to their standards and it started to seem more and more like it was on the coaching as opposed to the players’ themselves.
4.) I asked this prior to the first matchup between these teams but I’m curious if the answers would be different this time around. If you were the Chargers OC/DC, how would you game plan against this Raiders team for Thursday night?
I’d like to think it’s more of the same. As an OC, I’m going downfield and then cramming it down the Raiders throats with the run game. There is no need to waste your energy with stretch plays or anything else outside, just literally pound it through the middle of the defense with zone-blocked runs, the Raiders can’t figure it out. On defense, it’s key to stop Darren Waller. If you stop Waller, odds are you can stop Derek Carr. He’ll probably see at least 10 targets yet again, so it’s always ‘Stop Waller’ time.
5.) Same deal as before. Give us a short summary of how you believe this game will play out and top it all off with a final score prediction.
Sounds crazy to be a Justin Herbert fan (but this goes way back to his days in Eugene), so I’d like to think that Herbert gets the best of the Raiders secondary this time around. The coverage hasn’t been good all year, wasn’t that good against the Chargers earlier this season, and there is little to believe a team playing without their DC is going to improve in such a facet going forward. Sure, playing motivated because someone got fired is a nice story, but it’s just not true. You just lost your defensive play-caller from the sidelines, it’s time to abandon the hope ship on defense and just maybe pray to the football gods that the individual athletic ability of those athletes comes through. Raiders can keep it close because they are athletic and sharp on offense, but Herbert gets it done through the air and the rushing attack helps seal it for LAC. 31-27, Chargers.