ALAMEDA – Philip Rivers is the unquestioned face of a Chargers franchise long known for a prolific air attack. The veteran quarterback has been slinging it all over the Raiders for years, with an excellent 9-4 record in Oakland.
A bigger issue may present itself on the other side of the ball Thursday night at the Coliseum. The Raiders must contend with premier Chargers edge rushers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, a dominant pairing adept a pressuring the quarterback.
Bosa in particular is on a tear, with nine sacks on the season and five in his last three games.
Both guys keep head coach and offensive play-caller Jon Gruden up at night trying to prevent these two from wrecking Thursday night’s Week 10 AFC West clash.
“They’re two of the best,” Gruden said. “They’re dynamic players. The effort level that they have is special. They have a range of skills. Ingram is all over the place. Someone needs to do a statistical chart on this guy, how many miles he runs per game. He’s the middle linebacker on your goal-line defense. I mean he’s a rover on third down. He walks around, I don’t know where the hell he is. He’s going to play over the guard, over the edge. He’s sideline-to-sideline. He runs like a linebacker; he’s got defensive end prototype size. And Bosa, he’s a problem. He’s just a really good pass rusher. He’s got tremendous hand usage, get-off. He’s got an arsenal of moves and it’s hard to find him. He moves around, so we’ll have our hands full with them.”
The Raiders will come armed and ready. Their offensive line has been excellent this season, even with presumptive starters playing just 10 snaps together all season. Gabe Jackson, Rodney Hudson and Trent Brown all have battled injury, with the latter two questionable for Thursday night.
Derek Carr’s pocket has remained sparkly clean, allowing just nine sacks and six other quarterback hits.
The Raiders have stared down top pass rushers and won, even when they come in pairs.
“It’s important to get everyone on the same page,” left tackle Kolton Miller said. “You don’t want confusion, so you really have to stay locked in and work as a unit.”
Bosa and Ingram kept Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers at bay with quick penetration and completely disrupted Green Bay's game plan. Bosa will straight come after you, while Ingram moves around the formation more while finding ways to create havoc.
“I mean they’re two of the better pass rushers in the game and when they’re both healthy and on the field at the same time, you can’t chip both sides unless you’re in max protection all day,” Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. “So that helps. They help each other that way but then you put them on the same side. You know we do that just for matchup reasons and just to see how teams are going to adjust and make another move, but we just try to look for the best matchups.”
The Raiders believe they can handle Bosa and Ingram lined up on the same side, with solid blocking tight ends to help and guards who can handle speed.
“Melvin is a dynamic guy who will do a spin move on the guards, and can come from a bunch of directions,” Miller said. “Again, it’s about communication and proper execution of the game plan. That’s our focus heading into this one.”