Their last matchup came down to the final moment of the final play. The Chargers will look to avoid a similar situation this week as they travel to Las Vegas to play the Raiders inside of Allegiant Stadium for the first time.
It would be oh-so beautiful if the Chargers were able to return the favor and beat Las Vegas inside their new home in the first game between these two inside Allegiant. It would probably be one of the better Christmas presents that Chargers fans receive this year, if we’re being honest.
So, with that in mind, here’s how I believe the Chargers can right the ship in the AFC and walk away victorious on Thursday night.
1.) Stay true to Justin Herbert and the offense
This one doesn’t have to be complicated.
In the first matchup against the Raiders, Herbert completed 28-of-42 passes for 326 yards and a pair of touchdowns while rushing for another 24 on five carries. His day included another 50-yard bomb to Tyron Johnson and both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams combined for 184 receiving yards and a score on the day.
The run game was also fairly efficient which allowed the entire offense to be balanced. They totaled 440 total offensive yards across 10 total drives.
The recipe for success shouldn’t be any different the second time around. The Raiders pass rush is still very underwhelming (15 sacks, T-31st in NFL) and their pass defense has allowed the eighth-most passing yards in 2020. Ditto goes for the rushing defense, who also allows the eighth-most yards on the ground per game and is tied for worst in the NFL with 21 rushing scores given up this season.
This is not a good defense and the Chargers eighth-ranked offense needs to take advantage of the matchup by doing exactly what has made the offense so successful in 2020, and that starts with your star rookie.
2.) Give Rayshawn Jenkins more snaps at free safety
After 13 games, it’s very apparent that Nasir Adderley isn’t who we thought we’d be getting, at least this early in his career. He has suffered from a lack of training camps and other offseason work, so I’m not terribly surprised, but I always felt Nas was just a natural player at the position. I didn’t think the missed time would affect him so much. That just hasn’t been the case.
Adderley has struggled with pursuit angles and constantly picks wrong when forced to make decisions on the back end. The Chargers defense needs a clean-up tackler at free safety and Nas is not trust-worthy enough to be that guy. He’s also been the reason for numerous dropped interception. At least twice with Casey Hayward this season, Nas has gone for an interception and collided with the veteran, causing the ball to fall to the turf with both defenders lying on their backs. Against Atlanta, Hayward was visibly fed up with Adderley when this situation occurred in the first half of Sunday’s game.
Anthony Lynn told the media that Jenkins “is our best strong safety right now” and that forces the team to roll with Adderley at free. Lynn also mentioned that those two are their best duo to put out on the field right now, despite the concerns with the second-year safety.
Jahleel Addae could see more playing time at strong while Jenkins spends some time back deep, but I doubt this happens much at against a Raiders team that wants to tote the rock the majority of the time. Despite that assumption, I still think it’s worth a shot. Jenkins being able to help cover Raiders tight end Darren Waller over the top instead of him getting beat as the lone man in coverage sounds better to me.
3.) Get Uchenna Nwosu on the field
When I asked defensive coordinator Gus Bradley about Nwosu’s lack of snaps in recent weeks, he essentially stated that they believe Nwosu is at his best when he gets between 25 and 30 snaps per game. That then tells us they view Nwosu as a situational and/or rotational pass rusher and not someone they view as the eventual replacement for Melvin Ingram.
That just doesn’t make a ton of sense. Nwosu is second on the team with 4.5 sacks. He’s accomplished that while playing just 39% of the defensive snaps this year and this all comes in a year where they continued to trot out Ingram despite him failing to register a single sack or tackle-for-loss before his season ended due to injury.
This pass rush has almost nothing to it outside of Joey Bosa and the team has decided to use Jerry TIllery and Isaac Rochell over Nwosu these past five to six weeks. Tillyer has three sacks on the year but has even more penalties from a lack of discipline. Rochell is serviceable, but he doesn’t move the needle in any direction.
Just get your best players on the field. It’s that simple. If Nwosu shows he can’t do anything against the run, then I understand wanting bigger bodies up front. However, until that’s obvious, let him hunt the quarterback alongside Bosa.