Post-Game Inspection: Week 1

Updated: Sep 14

The Game

Final Score: Chargers 24 - Raiders 19.

Is there anything more Charger-esque than winning the turnover battle 3-0, sacking the quarterback six times (while giving up none), and still being in a one score game without possession of the ball with three minutes to go?

As Yogi Berra once said, "It's deja vu all over again."

Khalil Mack rushes during game 1 of the 2022 NFL season (Photo Credit: Ty Nowell - Los Angeles Chargers)

Tell that to Khalil Mack. The freshly minted Charger broke the seal on the 2022 season with a throwback game reminiscent of what his 2017 Defensive Player of the Year campaign by harassing former teammate Derek Carr for three sacks and a forced fumble.

In his first game action wearing the powder blues, Mack—oblivious to the franchise's skeletons in the closet—decided to rewrite the ending to the Hollywood affair at steamy Sofi Stadium Sunday afternoon.

Derwin James records the first sack of the day against the Raiders on Game 1 of the 2022 NFL season (Photo Credit: Mike Nowak - Los Angeles Chargers)

Carr was sacked on back-to-back plays on third and fourth down dousing the flames of the comeback attempt before it could reach midfield.

On the day, Carr fumbled twice, and threw three interceptions. Brandon Staley's defensive makeover is already evident from the team that surrendered 174 rushing yards in the season finale to these Raiders. The Chargers new front allowed only 64 rushing yards on Sunday.

Sebastian Joseph-Day made Derek Carr's day difficult from the trenches (Photo Credit: Mike Nowak - Los Angeles Chargers)

This was a game decided in the trenches, as most are. The Chargers front five played the entire game in their designated positions. Whether you want to call that continuity, stability, or just plain luck, the stat is determinative of how an offense operates holistically.

The Raiders, on the other hand, used four different offensive line combinations and six substitutions in all. Center Andre James was unable to finish the game after sustaining a concussion.

You can't say that coach Josh McDaniel wasn't at least trying to find a solution to the Joey Bosa / Khalil Mack equation. Fortunately for the Chargers: he is still punching numbers wildly into his phone--and will continue to--as if the preseason had stretched into September.

As for the offense, offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and Justin Herbert protected rookie right guard Zion Johnson and new starting right tackle Trey Pipkins by moving the pocket and running mostly short to intermediate routes.

Zander Horvath, a rookie fullback, catches the first Chargers touchdown pass of the 2022 NFL Season (Photo Credit: Mackenzie Hudson - Los Angeles Chargers)

Who is Herbert's favorite receiver? The open one.

Herbert dissected the Raiders secondary, completing 25 of 32 passes (a 78.1 completion percentage) for 279 yards and 3 touchdowns. If you factor in the two drive-killing drops from tight end Tre' McKitty and receiver Mike Williams those numbers may have spiked even further.

The young quarterback did all of this in spite of losing star receiver Keenan Allen in the second quarter to a hamstring injury. It made little difference.

Justin Herbert throws a pass just outside the reach of a Raiders defender (Photo Credit: Mackenzie Hudson - Los Angeles Chargers)

Herbert threw the ball to eleven different receivers and made zero turnover-worthy plays while making the correct read over and over again. Allen, who was tied for the team lead with four other Chargers, was targeted four times, catching 4 passes for 66 yards.

- Dominic M.