But now that undrafted rookie free agent Matt McGloin has taken over at quarterback, the Chargers can breathe easy, right?
“You see a guy that has unbelievable potential when he throws a post route,” Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano said about McGloin. “He is a strong-armed guy that has good pocket awareness. Where they have been struggling is with the turnovers and interceptions. You see the type of throws he does make that makes our defense realize they have to do a great job against him.”
Since McGloin became Oakland’s starter against the Houston Texans on Nov. 17, he has a league-high 15 completions of at least 25 yards. But he’s also responsible for eight turnovers during that span, and the Raiders are 1-4 with McGloin as the starter.
The Chargers allowed five passes of 17 or more yards in the team’s worst defeat of the season, a 27-17 humbling at Oakland on Oct. 6. San Diego needs to keep Oakland’s speedy receivers in front of them on Sunday.
“Their receivers make plays on the ball,” said San Diego cornerback Shareece Wright, who did not play in the earlier matchup due to a hamstring injury. “So it’s going to be a challenge. No big plays.”
Score early and often: Losers of six of their last seven games, the Raiders could fold early if the Chargers can jump out to a big lead. But let Oakland build confidence by sticking around and the San Diego could be in for another close game.
Be physical: Oakland surprisingly owned the line of scrimmage in the first matchup. The Raiders held San Diego to just 36 rushing yards, while rushing for over 100 yards against the Chargers’ defense. San Diego has to flip that statistic and contain Rashad Jennings, a hard runner who is playing well lately.
Protect the football: Philip Rivers had his worst game of the season against Oakland, throwing three interceptions. San Diego turned it over four times in all, leading to 14 points for the Raiders. The Chargers are 5-1 when they have a plus-1 turnover differential or better.
Get Mathews going: Ryan Mathews suffered a concussion in the opening quarter at Oakland and did not finish the game, rushing for just 8 yards. The Raiders are giving up just 104 yards a contest on the ground, No. 9 in the NFL. So Mathews will have to work hard for his yards on Sunday.
Read and recognition: Pagano said the Raiders like to use a lot of personnel groupings and move players around to create mismatches. Jennings runs the Wildcat effectively. Fullback Marcel Reece and tight end Mychal Rivera are good pass-catchers down the seam of the defense, so the Chargers need to be aware of where those players line up each down.