(Merv Griffin voice) And we’re back!!
A big friendly shoutout to a great friend over at SB Nation’s Bolts from the Blue, the official Chargers site, Michael Peterson for the assist in answering our big questions about this week’s matchup.
And here they are:
S&BP: How is the health of this Chargers team, and is there any one position affected greater by injuries ahead of this one?
BftB: The health, as always, is bad. Just when the Chargers were about to have their offensive line be the healthiest it’s been all season with the return of RG Trai Turner, they lost DE Joey Bosa to a concussion. If it’s not one thing, it’s something else. The position most affected by injuries, and now a trade, is the secondary. Derwin James has been out all year, Chris Harris Jr. has missed the majority of the season, and now the team doesn’t have Desmond King in the slot. Three starting-caliber players missing from one position is always going to be rough for a team.
S&BP: We know the history that has been made by the Chargers and their late collapses in games this year. Has there been anything done this week in practice or anything that Anthony Lynn has discussed as to what they can do to address their late-game finishes?
BftB: As much as the fans and media want to hear something from the team in regards to them finding that one key thing to fix to stop the defensive implosions, we just haven’t gotten it. There’s honestly nothing left to say other than the team needs to find a way to close games. Whether it’s focusing on mental toughness late in the second half, making the correct play call in crucial moments, or guys just taking a look in the mirror and realizing they can still give more effort on the field. Right now is time for a gut-check if there ever was one this season as the Chargers are already on their way to another top-10 pick and another winless season in the division.
S&BP: Finish this sentence: The Chargers will win this game unless __________.
BftB: The defense struggles to maintain a double-digit lead in the second half. I’m not sure what other options I had for this question.
S&BP: Say you’re Jon Gruden, how do you find a way to limit Justin Herbert in the passing game downfield?
BftB: Pressure, Pressure, Pressure. Justin Herbert started strong against pressure but his numbers have leveled off quite a bit. But with pressure comes the chance for Herbert to beat you over the top with Jalen Guyton (sub-4.4 speed). Also, it’d probably go a long way to put your best athlete on Mike Williams in third-and-long situations. Herbert has already grown comfortable throwing it up to Williams and he just threw his first pick while targeting the 6’4 receiver. Right now is a prime time to bait him into that throw knowing you’ve also got a guy who could go up and get it, as well.
S&BP: What is your prediction for this game? Who wins? Final score?
BftB: I think this game will be another tough game for Herbert. Rivers struggled the last five years against AFC West opponents and it hasn’t been much better for the rookie. I think the Raiders take a look at how the Jaguars gashed the Bolts up the middle and that means a heavy dose of Josh Jacobs on Sunday. If the Raiders can play keep-away like they did against the Chiefs, I think they’ll come out on top in this one. However, Herbert has thrown for 3+ touchdowns in each of the last four games. I think this game will be another high-scoring affair and I gotta give the nod to Las Vegas in a 34-30 victory over the Chargers.
Think we all are starting to like Michael a bit more, eh?