The Las Vegas Raiders will face a formidable Los Angeles Chargers defense in 2020 that will feature many new faces.
Unfortunately for the Raiders, they play in the AFC West, a division featuring the Super Bowl champs and two young teams keeping pace with their own rebuilds. The Denver Broncos appear to have found their future franchise quarterback, while the Chargers drafted their own signal-caller. However, as far as the Silver and Black’s concerned, it will be the Chargers defense they have to worry about.
A Familiar Foe
First and foremost, the Raiders will have to continue dealing with the defensive anchor, Joey Bosa. The two-time Pro Bowl Chargers defensive end bounced back last year starting 16 regular-season games. His impact was impressive, to say the least, totaling 11.5 sacks, 18 tackles for a loss, and 31 total QB hits. Stopping Bosa will continue to be head coach Jon Gruden’s top concern when facing the Chargers.
Besides Bosa, the Chargers will feature a bevy of new starters at key positions including slot corner, nose tackle, and weakside linebacker.
The New Guys
The new additions for those positions are Chris Harris, Linval Joseph, and Kenneth Murray. Harris was the Chargers prized free-agent signing. Despite being 31, the experience and championship pedigree he’ll bring is invaluable. Fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, the Raiders are very familiar with Harris having been a Bronco since 2011. Despite passing the 30-year age mark, Harris only gave up a 67.1 completion percentage in 2019.
A Championship Culture?
Joseph, the veteran defensive tackle, like Harris, brings championship pedigree of his own to the Chargers. A two-time Pro Bowler, the interior Raiders offensive line will have their hands full with him. In 2019, Joseph was a factor in the Minnesota Vikings’ pass rush, contributing three sacks to the cause while totaling 44 tackles. Many Raiders fans will remember Murray as a linebacker that was on their wishlist before the NFL Draft. Eventually the Silver and Black addressed the position, though it was via free agency. Matt Miller of Bleacher Report was very high on Murray when Los Angeles drafted him.
“Murray is a rock-solid linebacker with awesome skills between the tackles and on underneath routes. You won’t find him lining up in the slot or playing all over the field like Isaiah Simmons, but he’s a great athlete who can handle box-coverage duties and own the run game. He’ll be an immediate contributor as a conventional linebacker with impressive speed and strength.”
The Chargers new additions certainly have their defense trending upwards. The Raiders for their part will have their hands full and that’s without mentioning Chargers stalwarts such as Melvin Ingram. The veteran defensive end had seven sacks and 48 tackles of his own in 2019. While the Chiefs own the AFC West, the Raiders need to be wary of the Chargers creeping up to them in 2020.
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*Top Photo: B/R