After being released by the Los Angeles Chargers following the 2020 season, the Las Vegas Raiders decided to take a chance on veteran cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. Hayward was one of the better corners in all of football for several years. Still, the Chargers clearly felt he was no longer a part of their plans.
The Raiders have reaped the benefits of this move, as Hayward proves that he can still bring value to a team. Even though he is no longer the player he once was, with zero interceptions and just five pass deflections on the year, he is still providing a positive role for the Raiders every week.
One of his most impressive stats on the year came courtesy of Pro Football Focus, as Hayward has not allowed a touchdown in 587 coverage snaps, going all the way back to Week 3 of the 2021 season.
Casey Hayward Jr. hasn’t allowed a TD in 587 consecutive coverage snaps 🤯 pic.twitter.com/uL6Gya8PID
— PFF (@PFF) December 7, 2021
The Raiders defense was one of the worst in football in 2020, and while they haven’t become a juggernaut by any means in 2021, they are significantly improved. They are middle of the pack — 13th — in pass yards allowed per game, and plenty of that has to do with Hayward’s abilities.
But at this point, the Raiders sit at 6-6, in 10th place in the AFC standings. They are one full game out of the playoffs and need to jump past three teams to get the seventh and final spot. They are also tied with two more teams that have the same goals.
All five of their remaining games are against teams currently .500 or better, three of them being divisional games against all the AFC West opponents. As a result, their defense, and Hayward in particular, will face some challenging tasks.
If the Raiders want to make the playoffs, they need to make a statement on Sunday when they take on the Kansas City Chiefs. A win puts them firmly back into the postseason discussion, while a loss would take them out of it almost entirely.
Trayvon Mullen designated to return
Mullen could not play in the Raiders Week 13 loss to the Washington Football Team. However, with the team designating him to return from IR, he is clearly nearing a full return. This will give the defense another boost, especially if he can return against the high-powered Chiefs offense.