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LA Chargers: How the “Jackboyz” secondary collapsed in 2020

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - OCTOBER 12: Casey Hayward #26 of the Los Angeles Chargers reacts to an interception by Nasir Adderley #24 against the New Orleans Saints during their NFL game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 12, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - OCTOBER 12: Casey Hayward #26 of the Los Angeles Chargers reacts to an interception by Nasir Adderley #24 against the New Orleans Saints during their NFL game at Mercedes-Benz Superdome on October 12, 2020 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) – LA Chargers
(Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images) – LA Chargers /

Casey Hayward’s regression

The biggest issue for this secondary in the coming years might not be James’ health, but rather Casey Hayward‘s wall. Hayward turned 31 in September and it’s starting to look like he may have hit that age 30 tipping point for cornerbacks.

Just by watching the games, it’s visible that Hayward isn’t as comfortable as he used to be in coverage. His performances vs. Cincinnati and Tampa Bay were terrible. Looking at his previous seasons, it’s rare for Hayward to have one bad performance, let alone two awful ones.

Ball tracking, coverage speed, and tackling have all been issues for him this season. Perhaps one could write some of this off as just a bad stretch, but he hasn’t had stretches like this since the first years of his career in Green Bay.

Due to the other holes in the secondary, particularly at safety, Hayward also has extra responsibility. When Jaguars’ tight end James O’Shaughnessy snuck behind the defense for a big 22 yard catch, #26 had to leave his coverage assignment to make the stop on him when Jenkins should’ve been there.

His skillset and advanced analytics have declined while his responsibility has gone up. If the Chargers can’t rely on their CB1, there’s not much else they can rely on in the secondary.

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