No team in the NFL has given up fewer sacks than the Raiders. They’ve given up just 13 sacks in 13 games, which is 3 fewer than the next best team. And yet two of those sacks came via Joey Bosa alone.
The rookie pass rusher made his NFL debut against the Raiders back in week five. It’s possible at that time the Raiders weren’t quite prepared for what they were about to face in Bosa – whether it be a lack of film on him or exactly how the Chargers would deploy him – but they are hoping not to make the same mistake this time.
His first sack was mainly due to pressure up the middle and Derek Carr holding onto the ball too long, allowing Bosa to get a late sack. The other one, Bosa got around right tackle Vadal Alexander to force Carr to step up in the pocket. Melvin Ingram flushed him from the pocket and Bosa sacked him. In both instances, it was relentless pursuit by Bosa that ultimately resulted in the sack.
“He plays with great effort,” Derek Carr said of Bosa. “They do a great job of moving him. He does a real good job with moving on the line of scrimmage and things like that. They put him in different spots. They try to move him at different positions. They do a really good job. They have a great defensive coordinator, very smart coach. He knows what he’s doing with him, and he uses him to his strengths, he really does. We have our hands full, obviously, but looking forward to it.”
The rookie third overall pick has had a nice start to his career. In 9 games played, he has 6.5 sacks. That first game acted as a spring board for him to quickly become yet another great AFC West pass rusher.
“I was relieved that I played well in my first game, but obviously the game didn’t go exactly how we wanted it,” Bosa said of his debut game. “I think it was a good game to get my feet wet and really get a feel of being out there. Get my confidence up for the rest of the season.”
“It was a great day for us,” Chargers head coach Mike McCoy added. “Seeing him out there, he showed the type of player he was going to be for our organization for a long time.”
Two weeks later, Bosa had another 2.0 sack game against the Falcons. Then, as things happen, his opponents took notice, and he went three games without a sack. But as good players do, he found his stride again putting up a sack in each of the last three games.
“I could notice a good amount of how I changed this year,” Bosa continued. “One thing I could tell is how much more flexible I am now. The way I move out there just looks quicker, and I’m bending better. There’s pretty significant change throughout the short, however many weeks it was.”
Just four teams this season have had more than one sack against the Raiders, with the Chargers as the only team this season to have more than two sacks (3). The Raiders’ top rated offensive line typically lines up in jumbo packages with an extra tackle eligible, which helps to hold back pass rushers. And in all but their match-up with the Bosa and the Chargers, that approach has worked.
“I think we just have to come into this game and attack it the same way we did in Week 5,” said Bosa.
Luckily for the Raiders, they aren’t expected to be shorthanded. Kelechi Osemele was out against the Chiefs last week with kidney stones, but he should be ready to go. Austin Howard, who missed the first meeting with the Chargers, will also start at right tackle.