Josh Allen looks to start his first regular season NFL game after it was unanimously decided that Nathan Peterman experiments violated several parts of the Geneva Conventions. This marks the second year in a row where the Buffalo Bills will test a rookie quarterback against the Los Angeles Chargers. In order to avoid a repeat of those results, Josh Allen would be wise to do plenty of homework on the opposition. Where to start? Why not two-time Pro Bowler and two-time Nathan Peterman intercepting cornerback Casey Hayward?
The Chargers asked Case Hayward to work in man coverage quite a bit, but weren’t shy with zone concepts either (like we have here). Hayward passes off his first man cleanly and is right on to the next. There’s a slight pause before driving forward, but Hayward closes quickly once he commits. A nice open field tackle ensures there’s no YAC.
And here’s some of that man coverage. The receiver adds a little hesitation to the middle of the route, before cutting to the outside. Casey Hayward recovers well. In neither type of coverage would Hayward typically be considered an elite talent, but his versatility is a huge asset for the Chargers.
Hayward isn’t afraid to get physical and jams with force on this snap. Note though that it’s his opponent, Terrance Williams who appears to win the contest of physics. Despite being knocked back a bit from the contact, Hayward rapidly recovers and breaks up the pass.
Hayward is again willing to mix it up, this time engaging to seal off the outside so the runner can’t race by. Hayward drives his man back and even more importantly understands where his teammate is and helps steer the play while engaged with a blocker.
Despite the willingness to play physically, sometimes Hayward is simply outmatched. While this play was a penalty for the record, Hayward is thrown down by his opponent. While this was one of the more egregious instances of being manhandled, stronger offensive players will have success muscling Hayward.
This isn’t included to rub salt in the wounds, but rather as a point of interest for Bills fans (as is the next GIF). Arguably there should have been a flag, but beyond that the interception is solely as a result of Hayward’s ability to track the ball. What makes this impressive is that Casey Hayward is blanketing his man (even after the penalty) but still knows exactly where the ball is.
Finally, we have situational awareness as another positive of Casey Hayward. Lined up in man coverage, he sees Nathan Peterman commit to the throw immediately. Hayward understands the low risk in going for the ball with this pass and times it up beautifully.