We have seen a revolutionized team on both sides of the ball through the Las Vegas Raiders’ first three games. The hiring of defensive coordinator Gus Bradley seems to be paying off, and Derek Carr looks as comfortable as ever in his fourth season as Jon Gruden’s quarterback.
Still, this Raiders offense is being asked to carry the load as they face off against an up-and-coming team in the Los Angeles Chargers. Here are three offensive players to keep an eye on against the Chargers later today.
The Raiders’ 2021 first-round pick is up for a tall task on Monday Night Football. Through the first three games, Leatherwood has struggled mightily in pass protection. According to Pro Football Focus, Leatherwood ranks 101 out of 103 offensive tackles, and while the Chargers coaching staff may not look at PFF, they are well aware that Leatherwood could be exploitable.
Lining up game-breaking defensive end Joey Bosa over Leatherwood is a sight we can expect to see plenty today. Leatherwood has already had the pleasure of facing a truly dominant edge-rusher this year in TJ Watt. He surrendered a sack, but Leatherwood was spared as Watt suffered a groin injury, sidelining him for the remainder of that game.
Nonetheless, Leatherwood will be someone to keep an eye on during the Raiders’ first meeting with the Chargers of the 2021 season. Look for the Raiders coaching staff to provide Leatherwood with some help during this game. Extra blockers and tight ends chipping Bosa as they begin their routes will likely be the strategy to limit the damage Bosa does versus the rookie tackle.
Derek Carr has taken the NFL by storm in the early going this year. He leads the NFL in passing yards and has found chemistry with his young receiving corps. His weekly heroics have also been a factor in the Raiders’ undefeated campaign so far. However, if the Raiders hope to continue their win streak, they will need their quarterback to keep up the record-setting pace. While Carr has been lights out, we have seen him have some hiccups in the past, especially in big games. So, if the Raiders hope to move to 4-0, they cannot afford any miscues from their signal-caller.
As far as the Chargers go, they’ll trot out 2020 Rookie of the Year, quarterback Justin Herbert. What better way for Carr to solidify himself as an elite quarterback than to out-duel one of the NFL’s brightest up-and-coming stars? Albeit on primetime, Carr will look to put together another commanding performance for all of America to see. It looks like Carr has found his rhythm with weapons Darren Waller, Henry Ruggs III, Bryan Edwards, and Hunter Renfrow. It will take a lot for the young Chargers secondary to keep up with this unit.
Josh Jacobs will look to make his return to the playing field after being sidelined with a toe/ankle for the past two weeks. So what a better week to do so than against a lackluster Chargers rushing defense.
Surrendering an NFL-leading 510 rushing yards to opposing offenses means Jacobs should be primed for a coming-out party tonight. Injury permitting, expect Gruden to dial back on some of the air-raid aspects of his offense. He might accomplish this while keeping the ball on the ground with Jacobs.
While the offensive line continues to be a weak point for the Raiders’ offense, Gruden may look to keep Herbert and the explosive Chargers offense off the field by feeding Jacobs throughout the game. All in all, Jacobs has a knack for being a ‘Charger Killer.’ In his four games versus the Chargers, Jacobs has 57 attempts, 212 rushing yards, and three touchdowns. Look for Jacobs to continue his reign of terror on the Chargers tonight.
*Top Photo: Associated Press/Rick Scuteri