No quarterback enjoys seeing a pass get intercepted. However, when it helps your team, then it’s one of the most powerful things in the game of football, because it is a game changer and momentum shifter.
Currently leading the NFL is the San Diego Chargers’ very own cornerback, Casey Hayward. For those keeping up, you knew that, but in case you missed it, he’s at the top of the league currently with six. He even leads the league with pass breakups with 22 on the year. Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Marcus Peters and New York Giants safety Landon Collins are right behind him with five picks on the season.
Last year, Cincinnati Bengals Reggie Nelson and Peters led the league with eight, so Hayward’s six thus far is really impressive. The last Chargers player to lead the league in this category was Eric Weddle in 2011 with seven, who currently plays for the Baltimore Ravens.
Here’s a breakdown of his interceptions this season:
Hayward’s first interception came September 18th against the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had not just one, but two interceptions on the day. Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles‘ short pass down the middle intended for Marqise Lee was intercepted at the their 32-yard line with less than two minutes left in the first quarter. Then in the second quarter, Bortles’ deep pass was intercepted for 31 yards. The Chargers went on to win that game, their first win of the season, 38-14.
In the following game against the Indianapolis Colts, Hayward had the only interception during the game in the second quarter. Quarterback Andrew Luck was intercepted at the Colts 33-yard line. The Chargers started to come back and looked like they were going to win that game, but were slowly disappointed and fell, 26-22.
Casey Hayward didn’t have another interception over the next few games until nearly a month later when he earned one against the Denver Broncos on October 30th, a game in which the Chargers lost 27-19. There were a total of four interceptions on the day between both teams
In the Chargers 43-35 win against the Tennessee Titans the following week, Marcus Mariota‘s deep pass was intercepted at the Tennessee 40-yard line. That was the first interception of the day, and another came later that resulted in a touchdown.
Last week against the Titans, Hayward intercepted Brock Osweiler‘s short pass at the Chargers 36-yard line and they later converted that into a touchdown. The Chargers won a somewhat close game, 21-13. This broke the tie of five, as he sits atop of the leader board now with six.
The Chargers signed Casey Hayward earlier this year in March from the Green Bay Packers to a three-year deal, reportedly at $15.3 million.
With the Packers in 2015, Hayward recorded a career-high 63 tackles. With five games remaining in the regular season, he currently has 48, and it would be great if he could surpass that number.
With the team’s No. 1 cornerback Jason Verrett and Brandon Flowers currently out with injuries, Casey Hayward has stepped up to the line and has made the most out of his playing time. Is he Pro Bowl worthy? I would think so. He adds to the Chargers’ defensive line who puts up strong fronts. Of course, Hayward covers some of the best wide receivers and running backs in the league. His interceptions speak for themselves.
The Chargers are back at home this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and hope to get another win. The Bucs come off a surprising upset, after defeating the Seattle Seahawks 14-5. However, I believe the Chargers are ready. They just need to keep their offense strong and help Rivers out by catching the ball and converting that into touchdowns after the catch. The Chargers have the players out there who are capable of stopping the opposing team’s offense with a strong-fronted defense, it is just a matter of staying focused and not getting sloppy and falling apart at the end, and we’ve seen that one too many times.
After the Bucs, the Chargers are in for it against the Carolina Panthers and the Oakland Raiders, and to see a win out of those two would be spectacular. Though for now, it is about this week against the Bucs and they can’t let those fans go home disappointed. Unless they’re Bucs fans, that is. Well, stay hopeful Charger faithful, and let’s hope we see our beautiful team squeeze their way into the playoffs.