Football analyst Bucky Brooks goes behind the line this week to preview the Chargers matchup, led by second-year quarterback Justin Herbert.
Here's a look at the other side of the ball and how the Chargers are prepping for this game with the Cowboys Sunday.
Who's the Guy… Justin Herbert
The reigning Offensive Rookie of the Year is on the verge of cementing his status as a Top 5 quarterback with his spectacular performance as a passer. Herbert can make every throw in the book with ease while operating inside or outside of the pocket. In addition, the big-bodied playmaker has enough athleticism and wiggle to extend plays as an underrated dual-threat. Herbert is big time and the Cowboys will need to be at their best to slow him down.
Don't Sleep On… Joey Bosa
The talented technician will test the Cowboys' edge blockers with his non-stop motor and Mr. Myagi-like hand skills. As an all-star-caliber pass rusher with outstanding snap-count anticipation and first-step quickness, the Chargers' EDGE defender demands constant attention as a game-changer.
Know His Name: Derwin James
The All-Pro safety has been on the shelf for the two seasons but No.33 is a game wrecker when on the field. James possesses an exceptional combination of size, speed, and athleticism with superb instincts and ball skills. He can play anywhere in the defensive backfield while also adding a little sizzle as a pass rusher off the edge.
Under Pressure: Asante Samuel, Jr.
The rookie cover corner will spend time on the island coverage Amari Cooper or CeeDee Lamb without help. Despite Samuel's superb footwork and fundamentals, he will need to be at his best to handle the Cowboys' WR1a and WR1b for 60 minutes. How well he fares in his match-up could determine if the Chargers are able to seize control of the game.
The Cowboys have passed on 62.4 percent of their offensive plays since 2020 (fifth-highest in the NFL) after passing on 54.4 percent of plays from 2016-2019 (29th). The increased reliance on the passing game has shifted the offensive emphasis from Ezekiel Elliott to Dak Prescott. Fair or not, the pass-heavy tactics have resulted in fewer wins and more volatility from an ultra-talented offense.
Joe Lombardi has crafted an offense around Herbert and Co. that will keep defensive coordinators up at night. The spectacular pocket passer has a pair of big-bodied pass catchers with the kind of size and ball skills that creates problems for teams opting to play man coverage. With Rashawn Slater solidifying the offensive line at Left Tackle, the Chargers' offense can rely on a dynamic intermediate passing game with a complementary rush attack that is dangerous enough to make the defense play straight up.
Brandon Staley will oversee the defense from afar as the head coach but this defense will play to his standard. He believes in mixing and matching coverage concepts to neutralize the opponents' top threats while enabling his best players to play at their best. Joey Bosa and Derwin James are the focal points of the unit and he will place in prime spots to make plays on the ball. Keep an eye on Linval Joseph and Jerry Tillery as interior defenders with big-play ability. If they are able to stop the run, the Chargers can unleash some of their creative packages to make life miserable for Dak Prescott.