Las Vegas Raiders X-Factors against the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 4
The Raiders secondary will face their toughest yet with Justin Herbert on deck, who is already making a case for being among the league’s top quarterbacks in just his sophomore season. Thankfully, Las Vegas’ secondary does not have the glaring weak links that have been prevalent in seasons past. Much of that success has been due to the improved play via the updated coverage scheme, as well as the personnel additions like Casey Hayward, who has been stellar.
As Hayward has excelled in coverage, opposing quarterbacks have pivoted to targeting Trayvon Mullen, who is tied with Denzel Perryman with 19 targets apiece. Mullen has been solid in response, allowing a completion rate of 63.2 percent (28th among defensive backs with at least 10 targets).
Monday night will be another test, as the Chargers boast a formidable duo in Keenan Allen and Mike Williams. Mullen has responded well through three weeks, and his play will be paramount to the Raiders withstanding Herbert’s passing attack.
The Chargers made it a priority in the offseason to upgrade their offensive line, and the ends have justified the means so far this season. Los Angeles has allowed pressures on just 20 percent of their dropbacks and has allowed a sack rate of only 3.8 percent (fifth-best in the league). Las Vegas has 57 hurries this season (first) and is top 10 in quarterback hits and pressures despite a low blitz rate.
Case in point: the Raiders will rely on their front four to win their matchups on Monday night.
Johnathan Hankins will be someone to watch against the Chargers, as the resurgent defense of the Raiders has been a factor of efficiency from the interior line. Hankins, along with Quinton Jefferson and Solomon Thomas, have helped support the likes of Yannick Ngakoue and Maxx Crosby outside.
The interior pass rush will be key in keeping Justin Herbert uncomfortable, and Hankins will play a valuable role in that goal. If the front four can win their matchups, then it will help stifle Los Angeles’ passing attack and forcing Herbert off the field.