Oakland Raiders Week 7 Primer: Home trip to San Diego

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Oct 18, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; San Diego Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers (17) reacts after his pass fell incomplete in the final seconds of the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Powering Down the Batteries

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers is coming off a career and record setting game against the Green Bay Packers. After setting team records for attempts, completions, and yards, the Chargers barely broke 20 points and lost the game. What happened last week is a typical example of how yards are a completely irrelevant statistic. What the Packers were able to do to win the game was get consistent pressure against Rivers and not allow large amounts of yards after catch.

Yes it is impressive that Rivers did what he did, but the reason this offense operates in the way it does is because it has a truly poor offensive line. The Raiders are coming into a game against an offense that they actually match up pretty decently against. San Diego has some quality wide receivers, but the Raider cornerbacks have been fairly solid each week and seemingly get better each week.

Some fans love to continue to beat up on DJ Hayden, but he has had a solid season and last week only gave up one reception of any consequence. On the other side, Amerson has proven to be a quality addition, and TJ Carrie is proving his versatility.

What has helped the defensive backs immensely has been the pass rush and a pair of cornerbacks that play the same style. Both Hayden and Amerson excel in off coverage especially in cover three and cover one looks. This allows the defense to be more symmetrical and balanced.

More importantly, Hayden has continued to be used as a number one cornerback and follows a particular receiver most of the game. He is also called upon to do a considerable amount of slot coverage as well. Today, defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. also said that DJ is becoming a number one cornerback.

DJ is far from perfect and will give up plays, but he has become a competent cornerback that can do a pretty solid job against most receivers. Because he and Amerson play off they give up underneath routes. What has changed for the Raiders is the consistent tackling by the cornerbacks after the catch. Another improvement to the pass defense has been the move of Carrie to free safety.

Because he is a quality cover man especially in the slot, he can really fit into the cover one and cover three concepts very well. On the rare occasion the Raiders go with a quarters look or a zero coverage concept and he can cover a variety of targets including running backs.

The place the Raiders have an advantage over many defenses is they have two linebackers that are very solid in man coverage. Ball has shown in one week he is the best cover linebacker on the Raiders roster. This is mostly due to the fact he is undersized, but he is a quality athlete as well. Between him and Malcolm Smith, the Raiders can line up and cover the tandem of tight ends the Chargers have at their disposal.

Antonio Gates is a legend in this league, but he is also the guy who stirs the drink that is the San Diego offense. Putting a guy like Malcolm Smith on him who is similarly sized and a solid tackler can be precisely what limits this offense’s ability to produce big plays. For a younger athlete like Green, a guy like Ball could limit his threat as well.

Next: Week 7 Primer: Attack, Attack, Attack