Gratitude and keys to beating the Seahawks

Raiders fans don’t have a lot to be thankful for this year, given their overall record and playoff prospects.

Nonetheless, they should be thankful for the Broncos. Not only did the Raiders sweep the Broncos for the third year, but Denver is the only team more underwhelming than the Raiders.

Denver leveraged picks for a quarterback formerly known as Russell Wilson. These days Wilson looks far from the franchise guy he was in Seattle. The Broncos also traded a budding defensive star to the Dolphins before the trade deadlin. Thank God for those Donkeys.

Raider Nation should also be grateful for Maxx Crosby. The Raiders defensive player looks like one of the best players at his position this year. Previously, he ran cold in big moments or team run games would wear him down. Now, he’s converting those pressures and hurries into sacks. Crosby is playing more discipline versus the run and finding ways to impact games in big moments. Look at that blocked field goal and all the deflected passes.

Josh Jacobs and DaVante Adams are the other reasons for gratitude this offseason. Jacobs has also taken another step. He is running harder than we have ever seen. Jacobs is being more strategic with the hits he takes too. Unfortunately, the Raiders lead runner is in a contract year and his days in Vegas may be numbered. Even more reason to appreciate him the rest of this season.

Meanwhile, Adams is by far the best receiver the Silver and Black have seen. Like Crosby, Adams is also under contract for more than this season. We have to be thankful to have these two alpha players on our roster.

Onward to the Seahawks

This an old school AFC West rivalry. The Seahawks were suppossed to take steps back this year but legendary coach Pete Carroll has this team playing well. Shoutout to former Raiders Shelby Harris, Bruce Irvin, Quinton Jefferson, Tanner Muse and Gabe Jackson on the Seahawks roster.

Seattle is young and led by Geno Smith but don’t let that fool you. They bring size and speed outside. The Seahawks are ranked right behind the Raiders in passing yards this year. Seattle is 16th in rushing yards. Kenneth Walker is shifty enough to give the Raiders some problems out of the backfield.

Vegas must play discipline. Don’t give up any big penalties. Do their best to limit big plays down the field from Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf. All of that is easier to do if the Raiders offense controls the clock and stays on the field. The Vegas defense wears down after so many three-and-outs or series beginning with bad field position. Hopefully, Nate Hobbs is back to lend some help in the secondary too.

The Raiders still rank in the bottom for sacks and interceptions. Seattle has young offensive tackles and an athletic interior offensive line. Vegas needs to keep their d-line rotation tight. Chandler Jones needs to get a sack and impact this game.

Clelin Ferrell is on the d-line during some of the Raiders best plays. Even if he doesn’t get home, he helps setup his teammates. Also hoping Jerry Tillery can start taking some snaps from Bilal Nichols. Nichols is a decent pass rusher but not great against the run. Overall, the Raiders defensive line needs to use their size and length to stalemate their blockers and free up the Raiders LB for tackles.

Defensively, Seattle is 14th in sacks with 27 for the year. They’re 20th in picks with only 7 for the year. Seattle’s defense also allows the 13th most passing yards but the 25th most rushing yards.

Vegas must exploit the Seahawks run defense early and often. Derek Carr is a much better quarterback when he doesn’t have to force things on third and long. None of the Seahawks corners should matchup with Davante Adams. That means the Raiders must take what they want on offense.

Vegas gets Kolton Miller back after he missed last week. Miller’s presence was missed on pass downs especially. They will need him versus the speed the Seahawks bring off the edge.

If the Raiders offense can put together drives that will take some pressure of the Vegas defense. A few weeks ago, Tampa Bay limited the Seahawks run game and ended their four game win streak. The pressure will be on the Raiders defense to stop the run, limit big plays and get after the quarterback.

Unfortunately, we have yet to see the Raiders offense and defense get in sync. Every game it seems like one makes plays when the other does not, then vice versa. They can’t afford that against a young and well coached team playing for a playoff spot in a loaded NFC. Seattle finds ways to hang in games. The Seahawks make just enough wins to pull out close games and shootouts.

This is a winnable game for the Raiders but they have to execute over four quarters. Something they have yet to do versus anyone besides the Broncos.

Putting together a road win over the Seahawks should give this team an ounce of hope. They have yet to show the can put together consecutive wins. Doing that versus a playoff contender should give the team something to build on towards more victories. That should also help Josh McDaniels build some mojo. Just Win Baby!

Raiders Midseason Update and How to Beat the Donkeys

The Raiders once again found a way to lose with a lead in the fourth quarter. Indianapolis played witg more urgency despite having a new coach and a slew of injuries.

Raider Nation again finds itself crossing their fingers for a Christmas Miracle of winning out. Vegas fell even further from having a postseason or even a winning season.

Even worse, Raiders fans got to hear the entire national media share takes on Derek Carr’s tears and rallying cry. We get Derek Carr loves the Raiders and wants to win. However, we’re tired of seeing him answer the same questions with the same response. It does not take an NFL Insider to tell you this team looks lost and divided.

Vegas also got reminded that it can’t afford to hit restart on Josh McDaniels because their ownership is cash broke. They’re still paying the last guys. No wonder the Magic Johnson rumors were heard this season.

This might not be the worst Raiders team we have seen but it is the most discouraging. How does this team have a top-10 left tackle, pass rusher, running back, receiver and tight end but still can’t get out the mud?

You can read about how the Raiders o-line and d-line have faired this season via my FPC columns this week. Ultimately, they kind of just lost their battles to an Indianapolis team that focused on keeping things sinple. The. Colts just executed better, especially in key spots

Vegas moves on to play the Denver Broncos. The Raiders already beat the Donkeys this season. Denver is having an equally bad season but somehow stands over the Raiders in the standings.

Again, Vegas needs to execute. Show they are the better team again. Believe in each other and the coaching staff. Will their way to a win over a division foe with the same sort of baggage this season.

The Raiders need to run the ball early and often. They have to find ways to get Davante Adams the ball. Both will be more difficult with Kolton Miller inactive. At least, they won’t have to worry about Bradley Chubb who was traded earlier this season.

Vegas needs to find a way to create some turnovers versus the Broncos. They also need to rush the passer. Vegas might have a tough time with Denver’s size and speed outside. An improved pass rush will help. They also need to stop the run. Denzel Perryman back should help that. Clelin Ferrell should get another look after being a healthy scratch last week.

Vegas also signed Jerry Tillery after the Chargers waived him. Tillery brings some size and versatility upfront. Hopefully, he can latch onto the other starting tackle spot besides Billings. The Raiders could use his strength and length to pushthe pocket.

Either way, the Raiders keys for beating the Broncos remain the same as every game this season. They need to prove they can execute on all sides of the ball for four quarters. Something they have not done all season.

The buddy ball also gots to stop. Vegas needs to play the best players. No more veteran scholarships.

Give Raiders fans a performance they can watch and cheer for with pride. Play Raiders football by getting home to the QB and taking what they want on offense. Period.

Raiders must beat the Colts

Vegas needs to beat the Colts. Indianapolis is in their own slump. They just fired their coach and hired former player Jeff Saturday. The former o-linemen was in a special role with the team but not as a coach.

The Raiders lost a close game to Jackcsonville but honestly it should not have been that close. Jacksonville kept giving the Raiders opportunities on offense late. The Jaguars also helped the Raiders out with miscues the team capitalized on early.

Vegas struggled with the Jaguars length and speed upfront. You saw that on the couple of sacks.

They found Davante Adams early and offen but got away from it. We know how Adams feels about it. The Raiders also got away from Josh Jacobs. Again, I’ll put that more on the o-line and play-calling. Jacobs ran hard and made much of nothing.

Defensively, Vegas faced a winnable matchup. Jacksonville has some veteran experience and athleticism but they were not elite. They still found ways to dominate the Raiders with double teams. The Jags also found ways to use the quickness and explosiveness of the Raiders with some fakes. Vegas did not get home to the quarterback and that includes Maxx Crosby.

2-7 with a loss to the 3-6 Colts means the season is even more over. Vegas needs to come ouy and execute. Even in their two wins, they never got all threee assets if the game rolling.

The Raiders face a tougher matchup on offense. This defense features Yannick Ngakoue and DeForest Buckner. They have 9.5 sacks between them. They both play with the hands, length and leverage that can give the Raiders problems. This will be the best inside/outside defensive line combo the Raiders have faced. Yannick knows the line well from his one-year in Silver and Black.

Offensively, the Colts have some size and soeed that can give the Raiders problems. Vegas signed Sidney Jones to give them some size and speed outside. He played solid for the Seahawks last year and he is under 30. It is a low-risk and high-reward signing for the Raiders. They can also play Amik Robertson at safety more with John Abram gone. Same goes for Nate Hobbs whenever he returns.

Vegas also needs to probe theh can stop the run. That gets a bit harder with Blake Martinez announcing his retirement this week. Martinez was solid, despite being thrust into a starting role immediately due to injuries. The Raiders interior linemen needs to play stout and with gap integrity. Denzel Perryman and Jayvon Brown play better when they can run around not have to worry about blockers as much.

We know how tough Jonathan Taylor runs. Vegas needs their safeties and linebackers to make tackles. They can’t have any lapses in coverages or penalties that give the Colts a big play.

Vegas needs to take what they want on offense. Get the ball to Adams and Jacobs. Let Hollins and Moreau find mismatches. Stay in front of the chains with short down and distance.

Again, the defensive line is challenged with trying to disrupt the quarterback. The Colts offensive line and quarterback are their weakest links. That means it’s on the defensive line to get some sacks. This is the kind of game where Chandler Jones and Clelin Ferrell earn those millions. It’s also a game Maxx Crosby can dominate.

Vegas can only unlock their true potential as pass rushers if they stay true to the run. This offense runs through Taylor and they will never get a chance to sack the QB if Taylor keeps moving the sticks.

Every week we talk about how the Raiders need to execute for four quarters. They need to take what they want on offense and make turnovers on defense. It’s simple but the time is now. Vegas is playing for every breathe in their season. Can they find their winning ways versus the only team more underachieving than them?

Raiders vs Jaguars: How Vegas Can Bounce Back

The Raiders need a win. That outing versus the Saints doesn’t merit two articles. That’s a game you watch once and move on from. Vegas showed up for a shootout but got shutout. 

What we learned from the trenches versus New Orleans

Offensively, the Raiders started the same offensive line for a third time. We saw the o-line play well versus a contending Chiefs team that’s a bit light upfront. They looked solid against a competitive but not great front in Houston. This week they got dominated.

Dylan Parham continued showing some of the same issues in pass blocking as far as staying square, bent and keeping his head up. Andre James had his worst game yet, with some of the same issues. Ale Bars wasn’t great either. Collectively, the group gave up three sacks. A couple of those started with inside pressure. However, Edges Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport also brought the length and speed that gave the Raiders tackles some problems.

You saw that with how Derek Carr barely threw for 100 yards, along with an interception and no touchdowns. Josh Jacobs averaged 4.3 yards per carry on only 10 carries. They had to get away from the run game as the score got out of hand.

On defense, it was much of the same as all season. They made some plays but Crosby needs help. Nobody got a sack but a lot of that credit goes to Saints QB Andy Dalton for getting the ball out quick.

Andrew Billings can only do so much. He got upfield and disrupted the interior blocks but the Raiders needed more versus an Alvin Kamara and Taysum Hill rushing attack.

Vegas honestly missed Johnathan Hankins eating up two blockers. Even if he doesn’t push the pocket or play in the backfield much anymore, his size and length allowed him to anchor against double teams and stalemate blockers. The Raiders linebackers missed that.

Chandler Jones looked better but he had the easiest matchup of all the defensive line. The Saints feature a solid offensive line top to bottom and the Raiders looked over matched despite a few plays here and there. Neil Farrall had some moments where he got upfield but there were other times he got ate up by the double-team.

Clelin Ferrell had his worst game as a pass rusher. Bilal Nichols got pushed around as a run defender. I have not seen Kendal Vickers do much. They need help inside besides Billings. They are last in sacks for a reason.

 I’ll admit I sped through most of last week’s tape. I watched it live any ways.

Trade deadline breakdown

If you had Daniel Carlson in any of your fantasy leagues, you probably were sad too as he’s the Raiders most consistent scorer. The only thing more disappointing was the trade deadline.

Vegas did nothing. It was reported they made calls but they had nothing great to sell. They have not shown enough to leverage the future. Nothing to buy or sell multiple outlets reported. 

It would have been great to see the Raiders make some additions and roll the dice. They could’ve used a receiver, some offensive line help, a defensive back and a stout pass rusher in the interior. Unfortunately, good players at those positions don’t get free and if they do it costs a lot.

The Raiders chose to develop from within and let the expiring contracts they have free up some cap space in the offseason. We’ll see what happens but this team lacks talent at some key positions. Players need to take a noticeable jump through bonding or grasping the full schemes. Otherwise, we’ll just get more of what we’ve seen the first part of the season.

What is this team?

Perhaps this team peaked too early. Maybe those close loses early were on the other teams. Can the Raiders get better with what’s on the roster? 

Maybe that whooping is what the Raiders needed to wake them up. There’s no time to figure out how to win. This team is filled with veterans and young players who have something to prove. They aren’t good enough to say we’ll just stay the course. Forget could’ve, would’ve or should’ve. 

Last year, the Raiders stayed the course amid chaos. This is not that team. It might actually be better talent wise but the execution isn’t the same. Mark Davis can say whatever he wants about the Head Coach but it’s the players who will decide. They are all spending time together on the road in Florida as they prepare for Jacksonville. Is it enough for a bounce back road win?

I’m not ready to fully write off Josh McDaniels yet but he has to get out of his own way. Maybe he is not used to forcing the ball to an alpha like Davante Adams but he’s got to get him in the ball. The Raiders also need to rely on Josh Jacobs more early to get them started. 

Moving onto the Jaguars

The Jaguars are also looking for a win. They’re young but they’ve invested in free agency and they have young players they are trying to build around with a winning culture. Jacksonville could easily get hot versus the Raiders defense. They are in the second half of the league as far as passing yards and touchdowns.

Can the Raiders play desperate? Will they play like they know they can win? How does this team bounce back from that loss will tell us a lot about what they think about their leaders, including the coach and quarterback. Ownership and the front office too.

The Raiders can stop the bleeding with a win in Jacksonville. Then they head home to play Indianapolis at home. The Colts have their issues which makes that a winnable game. A couple of wins strung together is what the doctor ordered.

We know the Raiders haven’t traveled great in recent years, so a east coast road win helps the team’s confidence too. However, another loss and the season is virtually over. There’s nothing that this team has showed this season that proves they can go on an extended streak. They haven’t even won back-to-back games this year. 

What are the Jaguars?

Jacksonville is in the bottom ten for passing defense as far as yards and sacks. They have allowed nine rushing touchdowns which puts them in the bottom ten of the league. They are in the twelfth least rushing yards. All that means the Raiders offensive efforts could go either way.

Tackles Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor arerated positively by PFF bu they’re tied for the 44th spot out of 78 tackles. Center Luke Fortner is ranked 30th out of 37 at his position. Guards Ben Bartch, Tyler Shatley and Brandon Scheriff rank from 46-53 out of 81. Again, this could be a winnable matchup for the Raiders or they could get dominated by an under performing but capable group.

The offensive line faces some tough challenges with Travon Walker, Josh Allen and Arden Key. They’re all lengthy, fast and twitchy enough to give the Raiders tackles problems. We saw glimpses of that in the preseason.

Keys to beating the Jaguars

Jacksonville is young and healthy. They lost four straight games by a score or less. A game versus a floundering Raiders team is exactly what they need. The Jaguars could be the definition of mid. They could also be an ascending young team depending on the week and opponent.

Vegas is a team trying to save their season and establish their identity. Davante Adams was added to the injury report for an illness and Carr is apparently battling a back injury. Mack Hollins is on the injury report and we’re waiting for Darren Waller to finally return too. It’s hard to make a prediction because we don’t know what this Raiders team is.

Ultimately, the Raiders need to get the ball to their playmakers. Josh Jacobs is PFF’s top rated back. They need to get him the ball early and often. This allows them to prevent long third downs which hurt Derek Carr and the Raiders limited pass blockers. It also sets up the play action for deep shots down field.

Davante Adams also needs to be a consistent target. Get Adams the ball, whether it’s jet sweeps, deep passes, screens or intermedate routes. Carr also needs to sprinkle in his other weapons. Doesn’t matter if it’s Hunter Renfrow, Foster Moreau, Mack Hollins or Darren Waller. Carr needs to find the mismatch outside of getting the ball to Adams.

Defensively, the Raiders must play discipline. Christian Kirk and Zay Jones can expose the Raiders corners on the outside. Running back Travis Etienne and tight end Evan Engram could give the Raiders linebackers and safeties issues.

The Raiders defensive line needs to stepup and do something. Crosby needs to get home but he needs help from Jones, Ferrell and company. The last thing Vegas wants is Trevor Lawrence standing back without pressure and finding his rhythm.

If the Raiders can play like we think they can, there’s no reason they don’t live Florida with a win. If they play like they did last week, this game could definitely go the other way. Regardless, there’s no room for error. The Raiders need a win and they’ll have to take it from the jaws of a young Jaguars time with the talent to give Vegas problems.

Losing to a younger team that is farther from learning how to win could crush the Raiders. Losing to a team in the rebuilding process with former Raiders like Zay Jones and Arden Key could easily kill the Raiders season. A win keeps the dream and hope alive for a little bit longer. What will the Silver and Black do?

How the Raiders can beat the Saints

The Raiders are 2-4 in a loaded AFC. The Colts, Bengals, Chargers, Patriots, Dolphins and Jets all sit above them in the AFC Wild Card race. That does not even include the four division leads. Vegas needs a win bad.

Big Game in the Bayou

They face a Saints team battling injuries at receiver, offensive line and quarterback. Andy Dalton has had his days versus the Raiders. Taysum Hill could give the Raiders backers problems. Tre’quan Smith and Marquez Calliway give the receiving until big play ability across rookie Rondale Moore, even without Michael Thomas or Jarvis Landry. The Saints offensive line is good, led by the trio of Erik McCoy, Andrus Peat and Ryan Ramczyk. Alvin Kamara is a big play and versatile nightmare for the Raiders. New Orleans is top-10 in rushing yards, which means the Raiders must play discipline in the run game and find ways to get off the field.

Don’t make it easy on New Orleans

Vegas needs Maxx Crosby to have some company. Bilal Nichols and Clelin Ferrell need to rush the passer. Andrew Billings needs to push the pocket. Chandler Jones needs a big game on Andy Dalton. Don’t let Dalton just sit back there dumping the ball to his playmakers uninterrupted. New Orleans has a top-10 passing attack in terms of yards.The Raiders secondary needs to make tackles on Hill and Kamara. John Abram and Trevon Moehrig have played terrible. No more blown coverage. The Saints have tons of speed outside, which can hurt the Raiders.

Establish the run

On defense, the line Saints line is big, physical and length enough to give the Raiders some problems. Cam Jordan is among the best at his position in this generation. He already has 4.5 sacks this season. Marcus Davenport has length and explosiveness to give the Raiders tackles some issues. Linebacker Demario Davis finds his way to the ball. Josh Jacobs is going to be challenged. Jacobs needs to keep the Raiders offense ahead of the chains.Vegas is much better on third and short than third and long.

Find the mismatches

Safeties Marcus Maye and Tyrann Mathieu also have a nose for the ball. The Honey Badger knows the Raiders well from his seasons as a Chief. New Orleans will be down two of their main corners including Marshon Lattimore. This is Davante Adams and Mack Hollins time to eat. The Raiders must take advantage of their speed and physical presence outside. For sure, Waller and Renfrow will need to take advantage of Adams getting shadowed and double teamed. Adams got to set the tone early and often. Every time he touches the ball he is a threat so the Raiders must give him some touches.

Execute

This team showed what they are capable versus the Texans. It does appear the team is gaining an identity with Josh Jacobs and Adams leading the offense. They still could have started a little faster if we want to get picky.

On paper, the Raiders should beat the Saints. Vegas has more talent and less injuries than New Orleans. People point to this as the easy part of the schedule for the Silver and Black. The Raiders still have to prove it by executing. Fans know anything can happen on the road.

Stick to the plan

It’s no coincidence Jacobs went off in both the Raiders win. He was running that hard even when they were losing their first three games. The offensive line was figuring it itself out but Jacobs looked like he was running with intention. Vegas’ interior offensive line improved their surge and double-teams which is why Jacobs finally started getting free.

If they Raiders get Jacobs gong again this week I’ll say they are starting to get some momentum. This team needs to get to .500 before I feel like they learned how to win or close games. The Raiders have to prove they can do it in back-to-back weeks on the road before they look poised for a climb back into the postseason conversation.

Throw in some play action

Vegas needs to utilize some play action to get the Saints biting in the middle if the field where Waller and Renfrow run. The offensive line needs to be on its best behavior for that game plan to work. The last thing the Raiders want is third and long where the Saints ends can just get upfield on Raiders tackles that can easily get beat by speed and strong hands.

Hollins is making us forget Bryan Edwards and Seth Roberts. He needs to keep taking advantage of mismatches and gaps in coverage. Foster Moreau also could be an x-factor due to his ability to block well and slip through coverage.

Sprinkle in a play or two

The Raiders defense is also going to need to keep stepping up. Duron Harmon has made plays in the Raiders wins and losses. He needs support from the young guys around him, especially if the defense takes big lumps. Moehrig and Abrams need to make plays if they are going to give up plays.

Denzel Perryman also needs to make his presence felt without getting exploited in the pass game. Abrams and Divine Deablo gotta make tackles. Ferrell needs to show he can get off his blockers. Nichols needs to anchor the run. Billings gotta stay on the field and find ways to push the pocket. Yeah, I wrote that twice. This Raiders defense needs someone besides Harmon and Crosby to make a play. 

Keep building

If the Raiders can get a turnover, sack the quarterback more than once, get Jacobs established and feed Adams then they will beat the Saints. That formula should beat most teams. Vegas needs to execute by staying ahead of the chains on offense and getting off the the field on defense. A road win over the Saints should help the Raiders feel more confident headed into Jacksonville next week. It might help this team finally feel like they found an identity to build on too.

Lessons from the Raiders’ OL/DL versus the Texans

The Raiders started the same consecutive offensive line for the first time all season last week. That only lasted so long since Jermaine Eluemunor went down with an injury.

Munford enters the chat

Thayer Munford looked good in his most extended regular season play. He showcased some of his size, strength and movement. Munford is still figuring out his punch timing but his foot work and pad level have improved. He brought some extra push and energy to the right side.

Miller bounces back

Kolton Miller also looked better. The group as a whole only gave up one sack, despite the Texans having some length and speed off the edge. It could have been a long day but the Raiders tackles stepped up, especially once the bigger Munford stepped in.

Interior stays solid


The Raiders need to test Alex Bars too. He’s not the best at getting downfield. He’s giving them more push on their double teams and he’s solid in pass pro but he’s not consistently getting to the second level, neither is he really sealing the right sise. I still don’t know why John Simpson is not playing. He should at least get a series or two to show what he can do on the right side again.

Parham continues to improve. He played with more balance and hands versus the Texans.

Andre James has seen better games. The Texans size, strength and length upfront gave James some issues. Yet, the group also did better in pass pro and blitz pickup.

Regardless, the group helped Josh Jacobs gash the Texans for over 143 yards and three touchdowns. It was an incredible performance partly because the offensive line played with passion and cohesion. They looked noticeably tougher and more insync after the bye. There are still some things they can clean up on the edges, along with blitz pickup. However, the group is playing hard.

Addition by subtraction

The defensive line also made a change by trading Johnathan Hankins to the Cowboys for some late round picks. Hankins was a solid Raider since joining the team in 2018. He was getting better as the season went on. However, he was a healthy scratch versus the Chiefs a few weeks ago.

It was difficult for the Raiders to play Hankins with Andrew Billings playing so well. They tried to play those two together but it’s tough to play that much size and bulk, especially when the Raider already lack pass rush. 

The Cowboys get a versatile nose tackle with experience in odd and even fronts. He’s a 30-year-old veteran with a tiny bit of playoff experience. Hankins will eat some space and hold the line for Dallas. They have enough playmakers that Hankins can just focus on what he does great.

More speed upfront

Vegas will take the added draft capital. It also let’s them play more fronts with Bilal Nichols. Clelin Ferrell should also get some more looks at tackle. Both got off the rock last week. Nichols is looking a little bit better but he still gets eaten up on run. Ferrell does well holding his gap but he doesn’t do as well with the strength and timing of the guards. One of them must seize the opportunity.\

I was way too happy to see Ferrell and Jones share a sack last week. Hopefully, next time they can get their own sack respectively. I like seeing Ferrell, Nicols, Crosby and Jones out there as that’s a lot of length and versatility to use in stunts and twists.

The Mad Maxx Shoe continues

Otherwise, the defensive line has been only the Maxx Crosby show. We’ve seen him show up in pass rush but he’s also made plays in the passing lanes and he’s improved his presence in the run as the season went on. He still needs help with the pass rush side.

Big Billings holds it down

Andrew Billings continues to be the only other consistently effective player upfront. Billings is strong and uses his hands to make his presence felt in the run game. He also can push the pocket from time to time.

Other notes

No disrespect but I honestly don’t see why Kendall Vickers keeps getting reps. He gets killed in the run game. He’ll get off the ball as a pass rusher but he doesn’t bring much more than Nicols or Ferrell.

Neil Farrell has also started getting more reps the past few weeks. Farrell is a big nose who shows up in the run but not much in the pass. His presence is also probably why they were ready to let Hankins go.

Moving forward to New Orleans

Vegas will have a tougher matchup this week.

On the offensive line, the Saints feature some tough interior players including Erik McCoy, Andrus Peat and Cesar Ruiz. Peat is questionable but he holds down the left spot. Right tackle Ryan Ramczyk is also on the injury report but expected to play. Ramczyk and McCoy are among the top ten graded by PFF. Ruiz was a high draft choice and Peat was a a priority free agent for a reason.

New Orlean’s defensive line has seen better days. Their interior is a hodgepodge of adequate to solid veterans. Cam Jordan and Marcus Daveport are still playing well on the edges. They’re among the top half of their position per PFF. Jordan has 4.5 sacks on the year while Davenport has 4.5. Both are great versus the run. They have the size, length and speed to power conversation to make the Raiders have a long day.

Hopefully, the Raiders can limit some explosiveness off the edge by running the ball and controlling the clock again. This is the game where Munford or Eluemunor can prove themselves as a starter. It is also an opportunity for Miller to shoe he can be elite. It’s also an opportunity for the interior offensive line to perfect their double teams and blitz pickup.

Defensively, this group gets Andy Dalton at QB. Dalton is going to manage the clock and get the ball out quick to defenders. Hopefully, the Raiders secondary can tackle and not blow any coverages. New Orleans is down receivers but even their thrid and fourth options can hit on big plays.

Either way, it will be on the dline to play discipline enough to stop Kamara as well as disruptive enough to impact Dalton. Again, that’s easier to do if the team is playing with a lead on the road.

The last thing the dline wants is long drives with Dalton dinking and dunking his way down field. If both the ol/dl can play well and continue to show improvement, this will be the Raiders game to lose.

Raiders vs Texans: What we learned from the MNF loss, how to beat Houston and more from the Bye

Bye Week Blues

Every bye week comes and it brings ambitious of catching up on a bunch of articles. Instead, I didn’t finish my separate film article. I’m combining both columns into this week’s preview versus the Texans.

The Bye week always brings a great time to pause and rest as well as reevaluate and reassess. It’s the same thing for the players. Was a week off enough for the Raiders to show fresh legs and adjustments after the Bye Week? Or will we again see an inconsistent Raiders team that is still trying to establish an identity?

Here’s what we learned from the Raiders OL and DL before the Bye Week as well as what we need to do to beat the Texans today.

What Raiders team shows up?

The Raiders got five games to show their heart. They received a bye week to recover from underachieving. How will this team bounce back versus a Houston Texans team with the same number of wins and equal amounts of one-point loses? The Texans aren’t the most talented team but they’re filled with veterans who play hard and young players who are not afraid.

Houston has been floundering since they fired Bill O’Brien a few years ago. His Patriots style and influence ring over the Texans. The Raiders have slowly retooled their roster with Patriots influence since hiring Josh McDaniels.

Houston could be a problem

Lovie Smith picked up the Texans after David Culley was fired after a 4-13 season. Smith is a highly respected coach. He was the defensive coordinator of one NFC Champion Rams and the head coach for the last Bears team that lost the Super Bowl to the Colts. Yet, his legacy as the Texans coach might always be as the one who took over after DeShaun Watson was finally traded.

Vegas needs to stop the bleeding with a win. After this game, the Raiders move on to the easiest part of the schedule. They’ve proven they can play with every team in their division, including the Chiefs.

However, they still need to prove they can play a full four quarters of great football through all three phases of the game. That excuse has been stale for Raiders fans who have watched this for the better part of 20 years. Many great players wore Silver and Black but never sniffed postseason success. Don’t let this team continue disappointing with second half collapses or slow starts.

The Raiders should win this game but the Texans have played close in all their games. Vegas holds more talent top to bottom but they have yet to execute a complete four quarters. At home, the Silver and Black must set the tone by dominating from play one.

All eyes on the offensive line

The Raiders offensive line pushed their double teams better versus the Chiefs. That’s also why running back Josh Jacobs found success running between the tackles.

Vegas decided to move Alex Bars from starting left guard to starting right guard. Bars is still playing too high and getting beat with speed but he showed his size and strength in the run game versus the Chiefs.

Dylan Parham showed he could anchor the left side, even though he did take some lumps. Parham has started at three different positions as a rookie drafted in the third round. That’s incredible four the 6-3 interior linemen out of Memphis.

Kolton Miller had his best game of the season versus the Chiefs, according to PFF. Andre James also looked closer to his regular and consistent form.

It feels like the Raiders are finally steadying the ship at the offensive line. They need to improve their blitz pickup and they do take lumps versus speed in the pass and they struggle getting up to good backers. I’d like to see John Simpson back in the guard rotation as well as an upgrade at right tackle so Eleumunor can move inside to guard again.

Building on a big game

Vegas’ offensive line rotation seems to be finally settling down but that could all change after the Bye Week too. I still don’t think Bars is a starting guard on a playoff team, nor do I believe Jermaine Eluemunor is a starting right tackle for a good team. However, both looked competent and could get better as the season goes on. At the very least, this group has gotten better.

Moving onto the Texans, Vegas will need to keep building on their momentum with a solid effort from their offensive tackles. They helped Jacobs crack over 150 rushing yards with a 7 yards-per-carry average. QB Derek Carr was only sacked twice, not including that Chris Jones strip-sack that got reversed due to roughing the passer.

This week they’ll see one-time Raider Maliek Collins as well as run stopper Roy Lopez. Neither are great like Jeffrey Simmons or Chris Jones who the Raiders already faced, but both are formidable vets with defined roles in the defense.

On the edge, the Texans have enough length and athleticism to give the Raiders some problems. Jerry Hughes is having a resurgence with four sacks already this year. Former Seahawks edge Rasheem Green and former Rams edge Ogbonnia Okornokwo have looked good since joining the Texan’s rotation this year. The Silver and Black need a solid outing from their tackles.

The defensive line still needs help

Again, Maxx Crosby carried the front four with two sacks. Clelin Ferrell did some things to help Crosby but he still has not gotten a sack. Chandler Jones keeps finding himself in the play but he does not have the same explosiveness to make the play like a few years ago. The Raiders again find themselves in the bottom of the league for sacks.

Andrew Billings continued to look good in the interior but he’s limited as a pass rusher. The Raiders relied on Bilal Nichols again at defensive tackle. He’s a decent pass rusher but can get pushed in the run game. John Hankins was also missing from the center of the Raiders run defense.

Despite all the close games Vegas has played this year, they have not found a core-four defensive line players to finish games and win big spots. They still have to pick and choose between players who are solid against the run vs players who can rush the passer. Houston is in the middle of the pack for sacks allowed. The Texans are also in the bottom of the league for rushing yards. This is a matchup the defensive line can win in passing and running situations.

Give the ball to Jacobs

Back to the Patriots influence. The Raiders have been cute with their running back rotation all year. New England loves playing multiple backs and packages. It’s time to give Josh Jacobs the ball.

Jacobs has been the Raiders most consistent threat on offense. What the former Alabama running back lacks in size and speed, he makes up for it with effort and elusiveness. We’d all like to see him pull away a little more but he’s not afraid to finish runs. Jacobs’ cuts look way stronger. He is also being smarter about when to go down and protect his body.

Vegas just needs to give him the damn ball. Jacobs carved up the Chiefs and Broncos. The offense is different when they play with short third downs thanks to Jacobs. Darren Waller is not playing so the Raiders need an extra boost from Jacobs, particularly in the red zone.

Houston’s defense is discipline but they are not particularly strong against the run. The Texans allowed the 6th most rushing yard and they rank in the middle of pack for rushing touchdowns allowed. This should be a solid game for Jacobs and the rushing attack to eat again.

Let Davante Adams take out his frustration

We all saw the video where Adams knocked over a college student on his first day working as a freelance photographer. Adams apologized immediately after, but he still caught a misdemeanor charge and civil lawsuit from the individual he pushed.

It’s hard to blame Adams since he always says and does the right thing. Adams has been noticeably frustrated since coming to the Raiders. The team is 1-5 and his targets have gone up and down like the team’s success.

Still, the receiver registered 124 receiving yards and 2 touchdowns on only three receptions. Adams has always been a game changer so that play-making ability should not come as a surprise.

Vegas needs to again find ways to get Adams the ball early and often versus Houston. They are going to need his presence especially in the red zone since Waller is out again. The Silver and Black struggle in the red zone but hopefully Adams can make a few big plays to help them avoid that strife.

Houston is a middle of the pack pass defense. A big game from Adams should help him put the Kansas City situation behind him. It should also help the Raiders bury the Texans in an insurmountable lead.

It’s not about the Texans

The Raiders need to show a sense of urgency if they want to will themselves into the playoffs. Their chances of making the postseason decreased by a few points even though they did not play last week. They can easily blow out this AFC foe at home off talent alone.

A big win should give this team some confidence and momentum headed into an easy part of the schedule. It should also prove this team still believes in their head coach Josh McDaniels and their QB Derek Carr.

Nonetheless, they could also fall into a defensive battle with the Texans. That’s especially true if Vegas struggles stopping the run or allows big plays in the passing game due to miscues. This is the game for the Raiders to really showcase what they’re capable of for four quarters.

Bury the distractions

We’re all excited about Magic Johnson possibly joining the Raiders ownership. He was an L.A. Raiders fan back in the day and he helped the Lakers, Dodgers, Sparks and LAFC win championships in various roles. Johnson would bring diversity, connections and experience to the Raiders if the team sold a minority stake to him.

There’s been trade rumors about the Raiders exploring deals to bring back Nelson Agholor too. Rumors also surfaced that the team was shopping John Abram and Clelin Ferrell. It makes sense given neither lived up to their high draft status. However, what can you actually get for them and who are you going to play that is better?

None of that off-field conversation matters this season. Vegas will always be surrounded by talk and rumors. The Raiders need to forget all that to dig themselves out of a hole in the AFC West. That starts with just winning now, baby!

Raiders vs Chiefs Preview 2022: How Vegas can get their second win of the season

By Tuesday morning, the Raiders will have played each of their AFC West division foes. Vegas also played an NFC playoff team (Arizona Cardinals) and an AFC Playoff team (Tennessee Titans) from a year ago already this season. Neither look as good as last year, but both of those losses came down to the final series.

In scouting, they say it takes about five games to get a good baseline sense of a player. The Raiders will play their fifth game of the season versus the Chiefs. This is the game where the Raiders bring everything together. We should finally have a sense of the Raiders’ identity and expectations after Week 5.

Last year, three playoffs teams started at 1-3. Vegas still has a lot to prove before they can comfortably say they will keep that trend going this year. Regardless, the season isn’t over yet for the Silver and Black.

Familiar faces

Kansas City has been the king of the AFC West and the most consistent AFC contender since they rolled out Pat Mahomes as their starting quarterback. This year is no different as they sit at 3-1 with wins over the Chargers, Cardinals and Buccaneers. Their lone loss came to an underachieving Indianapolis Colts team.

The Chiefs don’t appear as explosive without Tyreek Hill at receiver. However, they’ve still got speed on the outside with Mecole Hardman, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Marquez Valde-Scanting. Kansas City also still has shifty and versatile running backs with Clyde Edwards-Halaire, Jerick McKinnon and Isiah Pacheco. Plus, tight end Travis Kelce always gives the Raiders Problems. Patrick Mahomes also always tears up the Silver and Black.

Retooled Defense

Defensively, this group is led by Chris Jones. They revamped the safeties adding Justin Reid and rolling with Juan Thornhill full-time. The rest of the secondary are a mix of veterans and young guys, per usual. This is an Andy Reid formula the Raiders should know well. Kansas City wants to bend but not break as well as force enough pressure and turnovers to help their offense stay on the field.

A lot riding on Week 5

Vegas enters this game after two poor performances versus the Chiefs last year. They gave up 40 points and failed to score more than 14 points. The Raiders showed some promise the year before, beating the Chiefs in Arrowhead and nearly beating them in Vegas earlier in 2020.

Nonetheless, we already learned through four games this is not the same Raiders team as last year. In this case, that benefits Vegas. Last year’s team made progress by making the playoffs but they made no progress in beating the Chiefs. This year’s team can show it’s not afraid of the AFC West’s big dog.

The point is, we’ll have a good sense of what this Raiders team is capable of after they play the Chiefs. We’ve been waiting for this team to put together four quarters of winning football through all three facets of the game. They’ll need to do that this week versus the Chiefs just to keep themselves from getting blown out.

On one hand, a win puts them right back at 2-1 in the division. Otherwise, a loss puts them at 1-2 in the division and 1-4 overall. That is not a great spot headed into the Bye Week but this team should come out stronger in Week 6.

Either way, the Raiders will have some time to make some adjustments and personnel moves after the Chiefs game via their Bye. This game in Kansas City will really be the difference between the Raiders riding momentum or licking their wounds during the off week.

What do the Raiders need to do to beat the Chiefs? Here’s some keys to walkaway with a huge road upset.

Apply pressure

First off, Vegas has no chance if they let Patrick Mahomes get comfortable. The Raiders need to find ways to pressure, hurry and sack the Chiefs’ QB. They also need to stay discipline with their pass rushing lanes. Mahomes can gash up the Raiders like Wilson and Murray, except for he has a much bigger and more active arm that can make the Raiders pay. That’s d-line 101.

Play disciplined in coverage

Denzel Perryman made his presence felt in the last game versus the run. There’s a chance he plays again Monday. The Raiders will need him to not be a liability in coverage as they have speed throughout the lineup.

Jayvon Brown is solid in coverage, even if he’s not as physical as Perryman. However, Brown is expected to miss the game with a hamstring injury. That puts more pressure on Perryman in coverage. Not to mention, Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce already has over 300 receiving yards and 3 touchdowns.

The Vegas defensive backs have made plays the past few weeks, even if they’ve been over-matched. Despite injuries, they’ve found big plays from Duron Harmon and Amik Robertson. Nate Hobbs has continued to look great. Rock Ya-Sin made some plays and even Johnathan Abram looks better this season. Tre’von Moehrig came back and looked improved. He gives the group a little more bulk.

This group will get tested by Kelce’s size, the speed on the outside and the shiftiness out of the backfield. The Raiders defensive backs can’t afford any lapses in coverage or huge penalties. They’ve got to be solid with their tackling too. Kansas City’s receivers aren’t playing too well but the Raiders can’t be the group that helps them find their rhythm.

Please send Crosby some help

Vegas’ x-factor is their defensive line. Andrew Billings got a little bit more push in the passing game. Johnathan Hankins looked better too. Some of that could be on the Broncos’ guards. Clelin Ferrell was effective setting everyone up with his stunts. Chandler Jones’ showed up a little bit even if he lost contain a few times. Jones still needs to get home with that big pay check. Hobbs registered a sack as a blitzer.

Obviously, Maxx Crosby was a beast again with two sacks. He’s playing with more control and that shows up with his tackle for losses and impact in the run game. Crosby can’t do it alone and that’s why eyes will be on Ferrell and Jones to find ways to be effective. He might even miss this game due to the birth of his baby. This has to be the week someone else gets a sack. No one besides Hobbs or Crosby has a sack this season.

Kansas City’s offensive line is playing better than year’s past. The Raiders defensive line won’t have an obvious weak link to attack. Yet, we know we can’t beat Mahomes without applying pressure. Vegas defensive line needs someone to step up and make a play. Let’s see Croby even lineup as a DT in obvious passing situations.

This one’s gotta mean more for Carr

Derek Carr lost his first AFC West dual to the Chargers. He threw some picks that cost them. Last week, the team edged out the Broncos but Russell Wilson got the best of him statistically. Carr’s gotta have a marquee performance to show he belongs as a face of a franchise in the AFC West.

It was great to see Carr take off and run last week. It gave the Raiders an added element to their offense. People forget Derek is not slow. The Chiefs are better in the interior than the Broncos, which might make that a harder outlet this week.

Overall, Carr and company need to be better in the red zone. There’s no reason for them to be one of the worst teams in the red zone when they have Davante Adams. They found ways to get Adams the ball last week but this week Carr needs to find him in the red zone. Darren Waller isn’t a bad second red zone target either.

Keep giving it to Jacobs

Josh Jacobs is running as hard as I’ve ever seen him run in Silver and Black. That manifested a career game last week versus the Broncos. Vegas needs to keep him involved early and often.

Again, Jones will be the biggest foe to this strategy. The Raiders guards have been up and down at best so Jones might be in the backfield a lot for the Chiefs. Vegas can try and use that aggressiveness against him by sprinkling in draws and screens for Jacobs. This offense needs to keep Jacobs going so Carr gets easier reads.

A few sprinkles of Zamir White as well as end around to Adams or other gimmicks don’t hurt. Vegas needs to not only feed Jacobs but not look away if he struggles. He got better as the game went on last week. It’s nice to see him, knock on wood, not deal with any lingering injuries through almost a quarter of the season. Jacobs also could be big in helping this team turnaround it’s red zone woes.

Josh is a good receiving threat out of the backfield. His offensive line needs generate some push for him to be effective in red zone though.

Addressing the biggest red flag

The Raiders offensive line improved last week with starting center Andre James returning to the lineup. Dylan Parham continues to prove he can play anywhere in the interior. Both can improve in blitz pickup and double team timing but that will come together as they get more acclimated to playing together.

Vegas still has some liabilities at left guard and right tackle. Jones’ speed, hands and get off worry me against Alex Bars. I hope John Simpson gets another chance to prove himself. Whatever he did to fall out of the rotation, the Raiders may need him this week. He’s a bit quicker than Bars, he does better at getting up to linebacker and he is younger. Simpson looked solid and improved from last year in the first two games when he started.

Chiefs edges Frank Clark and Carlos Dunlap aren’t as great as a few years but they still could give Kolton Miller some competition. Kansas City is also starting rookie defensive end George Karlaftis. None of them have been very good this year but they could be a mismatch versus Jermaine Eluemunor who struggles with speed. His backup Thayer Munford struggles with speed and leverage which might not help either.

This Raiders offensive line has the power to be a liability or a strength versus the Chiefs. They need individual players to step up and win their battles. The Vegas offensive line also needs to come together as a cohesive unit. That should get easier as the rotation settles and they hopefully get another win. Otherwise, some changes could be made in the bye week.

All eyes on Josh

Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels started his press conference by saying the Raiders have a big challenge this week. It’s the truth.

After beating his former team and earning his first win as the Raiders head coach, McDaniels talked about how his team is figuring out how to win after those first three tough losses. That’s a hard pill to swallow for a veteran team. This will be the real test to see if McDaniels can really build a winning culture fast.

McDaniels’ gotta prove his offense can go toe-to-toe with Andy Reid’s explosive offense. The last Raiders coaches weren’t able to make the adjustments to avoid blowouts, can McDaniels? This group has far more weapons so the pressure is on McDaniels to help this offense score some points. He can really make a statement with a win over their toughest division opponent in Week 5.

Raiders vs Broncos: Trench Teachings from Win

A victory is a victory and the Raiders desperately needed one. It helps to beat a division foe they hate like the Broncos too.

Vegas rushed for over 200 yards with the trio of Josh Jacobs, Derek Carr and Zamir White. However, they were far from perfect. The offensive line gave up two sacks and a couple of crucial penalties.

The defense held the Broncos under 100 yards rushing and they did not give up a 100-yard receiver. They finished the day with three sacks, including two for Maxx Crosby. Vegas also walked away with their first defensive TD since 2019, despite having significant injuries in the secondary. Shout out to Amik Robertson for the scoop and score. However, Broncos QB Russell Wilson was still efficient completing 17-of-25 passes for two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

The game came down to the final series so the defensive TD was really the difference. Jacobs also helped the Raiders keep their lead.

Here’s more questions and lessons from the Raiders’ first victory this season.

Is Kolton Miller elite?

This is the question Raiders fans asked themselves the day Kolton Miller was selected in the first round. Since, he’s been a consistent on the left side. However, he’s yet to make the jump into the elite tackle conversation with zero All-Pros.

Miller faced tougher edges with more tools and he looked closer to his poor Week One performance versus the Chargers, than his last two games. Versus the Broncos, Miller killed the Raiders with a big penalty and gave up more pressures than any other game.

He can dominate good and solid players but the elite players get to him in the pass. Millers always been better at pass blocking than the the run game.

This week Miller faces a combination of Frank Clark, rookie George Karlaftis and Carlos Dunlap at defensive end. Kansas City is top-10 in sacks, although some of it comes from a blitz. Chiefs DT Chris Jones disrupts the interior consistently, which makes every players’ job easy. Miller needs to dominate whoever lines up on him. They need hm to be an anchor again.

Ferrell keeps improving

Clelin Ferrell hasn’t lived up to his bill as a No. 4 pick. Most people had questions he ever would, including myself. He’s said all the right things, which has made it easier to root for him.

Ferrell looks as good as ever in spots. He still makes mistakes but he deserves credit for improving and playing hard. It won’t show up in the stat sheet but his stunts helped setup Crosby. He also has one more tackle than Chandler Jones in less playing time.

Someone needs to help Crosby on the other side. It might just be Ferrell. Vegas should stop dropping him and Jones, neither look fluid or comfortable in coverage.

Parham adjusting

Rookie guard Dylan Parham moved back to his natural position at guard with Andre James back in the lineup. Parham had his best game yet at right guard. He was solid in pass pro and his quick feet really helped in the run game.

Parham still has some technique to improve but he’s ranked as one of the top players at his position by PFF. The rookie still needs to add some strength and do better with biltz pickup. He’s played all along the interior line and gets better every week. The strength and refinment will come but you can’t ask for more out of a mid-round pick.

Vegas still needs to solidify the left guard and right tackle spot but Parham gives them some hope next to James. Perhaps the Raiders should experiment with James at left guard, Parham at center and Jermaine Eluemundor at right guard. James is bigger than Parham and slates in better at guard. That scenario would require signing a healthy and competent right tackle, which is something the Raiders have not done.

James looks rusty

Speaking of James, his return made a huge difference with the run game this week. Not only is he an upgrade at center but he gives them a boost with Parham moving back to guard. James was far from perfect but he helped the Raiders on their double teams and in blitz pickup. The Raiders really missed him and this week they will need to him even more facing a tough interior presence like Jones.

James should continue to improve as he gets back into rhythm. Two weeks away from regular practice and game action threw him off. Not to mention, the Raiders offensive line around him keeps getting reshuffled. Hopefully, this group is that much closer to play as a cohesive unit with James back in the lineup.

Big plays made the difference

Amik Robertson stepped up and made a play that captured the game. Denzel Perryman made his presence felt throughout. Perryman can flow and fill much better than the other Raiders linebackers, especially when the big defensive tackles are in there eating up space. They will miss him if he does not play again and the Raiders also need to put Robertson on the field more.

The Raiders have defensive ends who can get to the quarterback and defensive tackles who can eat blocks. None of that matters if guys don’t cover and make tackles. Vegas’ defensive line can plays better when they have a lead. Players around them must make plays too.

Josh Jacobs ran hard in the last three games, but this time he finally got some blocking. He was able to find seems, lanes, alleys and the outside. Jacobs played hard all year and it was only a matter of time until he had a breakout game. Credit to the offense line getting a little bit more healthy but Jacobs deserves the bulk of the praise because he ran this hard all season.

Still Waiting

Every week we find ourselves asking the same questions. Can someone besides Crosby get to the quarterback? The Raiders are waiting for the same guys to step up on both the offensive and defensive lines. Right now, it appears they’re rolling with experience over youth.

Ferrell, Jones and Andrew Billings did a better job but Crosby could still use more help. Vegas got some help from their linebackers and DBs but they need more off the edge. They also can’t let Mahomes move around and scramble like they did Wilson.

Can this offensive line figure it out? The offensive line needs help at left guard. I still don’t really know where John Simpson is but he looked way better than Alex Bars. No disrespect to Bars but he’s a converted guard who has never been more than a spot starter. Bars’ base gets narrow, his pads get high, his feet get stopped and his hands aren’t elite. He can hold his own as a pass blocker. However, he can beat by speed and explosive hands. Jones could be a tough matchup for him.

Simpson is much better in the run game and getting up to the second level. Bars is bigger but Simpson is younger. Simpson looked better than any of his other seasons. Either way, someone needs to step up and solidify the guard position between Miller and James.

They need a secondary pass rusher who can stay on the field all three downs. Vegas is getting closer to figuring out their offensive line shuffle but they still have two key positions they need to iron out.

Headed into the bye week, some changes could be made if guys don’t step up and make plays. The answer to the Raiders questions might not walk through that door. If they get exposed versus a good Chiefs team maybe the organization will finally seek change from outside the locker room. Maybe they will finally use some of that cap space to sign a veteran tackle, guard, pass rusher or defensive tackle.

Raiders versus Broncos: Keys for securing Vegas’ first win

The Raiders found a way to not win once again. It was frustrating watching the Tennessee Titans come out with confidence and swagger. They looked like the sleeping giant the Raiders should have looked like. Tennessee looked more explosive upfront.

Vegas did much better versus the run in the second half. Derrick Henry gashed them in the first half but not as much in the second. The Raiders defense made an interception and sack in the one-score loss. They needed one or two more big plays to help the Raiders secure the road win.

On offense, the running game improved thanks to some added push upfront. Vegas slid Jermaine Eluemunor and rolled with Alex Bars at both guard spots. The added bulk was helpful upfront but both guys were far from perfect. It was disappointing to watch the Raiders get away from the running game because it was clicking.

Raiders fans are also still waiting to see this pass game get rolling on all cylinders. Davante Adams has been consistent but he has not had a signature game as a Raider. He has been getting double-teamed which is an adjustment for Carr.

Carr did find receiver Mack Hollins for a few big strikes. Darren Waller also made a couple of plays but he failed to make a couple of big plays when we needed it the most. Remember that weird third down he didn’t catch? That was bigger than the pass he dropped in the end zone with three defenders around him. The third down he was all alone.

Overall, the Raiders offense still lacks an identity and cohesion. This team hasn’t even played a complete four quarters of good football yet.

Is it McDaniels?

There’s been a lot on social media about whether or not coaching is the issue. Former Broncos players have spoken out against the Raiders current coach based on their experience with him as head coach a long-time ago.

It’s hard because this Raiders team refused to lose last year with Rich Bisaccia. They don’t have the same synergy this year. Whatever the issue is, the team must figure it out. Thus, why the players held an internal meeting and why McDaniels met with Mark Davis.

The Silver and Black know they have a slim chance of making the playoffs after last week’s loss. They know it gets even lower with a division loss to the Denver Broncos. Hopefully, the team responds to that sense of urgency. The whole trust the process thing is not working. Ultimately, it’s on the Raiders players to execute because firing McDaniels won’t solve anything for this year.

Moving onto the Broncos

Denver has been just as under whelming as the Raiders. They invested draft capital and a huge contract in QB Russell Wilson. It has not panned out yet. All three of their games came down to one possession. The offense has not put up more than twenty points this season.

The Broncos are in the middle of the pack with 353 rushing yard this season. They feature a backfield with Javonte Williams and Melvin Gordon. That size could give the Raiders problems, especially if Denzel Perryman doesn’t return. The Broncos also feature a good receiver duo with Courtland Sutton and Jerry Jeudy. Both players could go off considering the injuries the Raiders defense is facing in the secondary.

On defense, Broncos edge Bradley Chubb went on record saying he hate the Raiders. Depending how many matchups he gets versus the Raiders right tackle, this could be a big game for him. He already registered three sacks this year. The Broncos have nine sacks on the year, which puts them in the top-10 in the league.

Denver is top-3 in pass defense. They are also looking for their second interception on the year. It’s going to be a solid test for the Raiders offense.

Play a complete game on offense

Tactically, the Raiders need to do a lot. They need to establish the run and stick with it. Josh Jacobs looks as good as he ever has. Give him the ball and don’t give the Denver Broncos opportunities to figure out their offensive issues.

Vegas needs to take shots again like last week. This time let’s work in more Davante Adams to compliment Hollins. Adams has made plays but not as many as he is used to. Let’s see Carr lean on Adams, especially in the red zone.

Waller needs to step up when it matters. They need Waller and Adams in the red zone. Those guys are instant mismatches. Waller also needs to block someone. He has regressed in blocking for the run game this year but Foster Moreau will be out. Moreau is a much better blocker but the Raiders need Waller to stay on the field by being more consistent in run blocking.

Speaking of blocking, the Raiders will face an elite edge rusher in Chubb. The past two weeks they’ve taken lumps versus teams that lacked the same power and speed from one player on the edge. Whoever steps in at right tackle must play fundamentally sound.

There is no need to reinvent the wheel. They’ve flashed explosiveness on offense in spurts. However, the Raiders do need to execute for four quarters. Vegas is led by an offensive coach but they have yet to click on all cylinders. Hopefully, this is the game they can get things rolling. Let’s see if they can put up 30 points and convert in the end zone.

The Defense must make a play

This Raiders defense is far from elite but they’ve made enough plays to keep their team in the game. They just need one or two more big plays from this group to seal a victory. Please sack or pick Wilson more than just once.

Shoutout to Duron Harmon. I wasn’t expecting much when the Raiders signed him but he’s made big plays in consecutive games, including last week’s interception. Corners Rock Ya-Sin and Nate Hobbs could both miss this game. Tre’von Moehrig could return to safety but Harmon will be needed either way.

Vegas also needs some help from their pass rush. Maxx Crosby can’t be the only guy in the backfield consistently. It’s hard to expect one guy to disrupt the passing game. Chandler Jones and Clelin Ferrell are both solid in terms of doing their assignment. However, the Raiders need a little more explosiveness to help out Crosby. Both Ferrell and Jones represent heavy draft and financial investments, respectfully.

Jayvon Brown made a couple of plays last week. He’s not the thumper that Denzel Perryman is, nor is he the same athlete as Divine Deablo. Adding Perryman to the mix should help that entire second level.

The Raiders also have to worry about keeping contain. Wilson is no Kyler Murray. However, the Broncos QB is a sneaky and strategic scrambler who can keep the chains moving. Denver should look to utilize Wilson’s legs versus a Raiders pass rush that can be both over aggressive and stagnant at the the same time. Their edges get up field but the tackles don’t always do the same.

Please Just Win Baby!

Raiders Nation is already divided on Carr and McDaniels after three losses. Imagine a fourth loss? A loss to a struggle division foe could make this season spiral even further.

Much like last week, this could easily be the win that helps Vegas get back on track. It could also be the game that breaks the team’s confidence even more. It’s tough losing four in a row, especially if this game is close again.

Regardless, this Raiders coaching staff has proven it is not afraid to make changes or adjustments through three losses. A fourth loss could help this team make a move.

Vegas will be playing down key players like Hunter Renfrow and the aforementioned starting corners. Denver is a little healthier minus some injuries on the offensive line. This should be another division classic that comes down to a big special teams play or whatever team can convert more turnovers.