It has been a hell of turnaround the last two weeks. The Las Vegas Raiders are 2-0 under interim head coach Antonio Pierce.
Vegas dominated a New York Giants that was bad. The Giants also lost their starting quarterback early in the game. Vegas spread the ball around at home. It was the most dominate performance of the season fresh off the Raiders making an organizational change.
Then, the Raiders beat the Jets in a super close prime time game. The Jets could’ve easily won that game as the two teams were evenly matched. The Jets could’ve given the Raiders some problem with young talent throughout the roster. Former Raider Solomon Thomas got a sack for the Jets. Quinnen Williams chipped in half a sack.
Both victories came at home. Neither showing was perfect. The offensive line loo led good but also took some losses. However, it was nice to see the Raiders string together some wins.
Now, Pierce must lead his guys on the road. Raider Nation knows the Raiders’ woes traveling to the East Coast too well. The Raiders opted to practice three hours early, rather then go to Florida early. Hopefully, it pays off in Miami versus a Dolphins’ team that scored more than 30 points in five games.
Vegas needs to stick to the formula. Josh Jacobs has had his best two games of the season. He finally seems to be getting some momentum. The Raiders got the ball to Davante Adams to keep the Jets honest. Raiders rookie quarterback Aiden O’Connell hasn’t been perfect but he has had shimmers of success. Great offensive line play and a successful rushing attack provide safety to a rookie quarterback. The Raiders need to stick to that formula.
On defense, the Raiders are finding their stride. They got an interception and two sacks last week. They kept Breece Hall in check a week after not really having an answer for Saquon Barkley. Barkley averaged over five yards per carry but the Giants got away from the running game due to the large defector. Vegas was able to sack the quarterback eight times and they registered two interceptions versus the G-Men.
Now, the Raiders will get the Miami Dolphins in the road. Miami quarterback Tua Tagovailoa has more poise and accuracy than the last two quarterbacks the Raiders played. Tyreek Hill always tears up the Raiders dating by to his Chief days. I’m sure he will love to do it again. The Raiders secondary needs to play discipline over the top and the corners need to play more cautiously. Miami can beat them in single coverage and over the top deep.
The Miami Dolphins will also get rookie running back De’Von Achane back from IR. Achane had 7 touchdowns and over 400 yards before he went down with a knee injuries. Overall, this Dolphins offense is much more explosive than the Raiders’ last two opponents. Let’s see if the Raiders can keep their swagger this week.
Pierce deserves a lot of credit for the last two wins, since he’s effectively opened up the lines for communication between players and staff again. Yet, we’ll see how he really does leading this team on the road versus a strong opponent. We’ll be more able to judge his long term coaching ability by the adjustments he makes if the team goes down. How will they respond if they go down bad?
Either way, it seems like the Raiders are getting back to their identity. Expect them to lean on Jacobs early as well as push the ball downfield in spots. The running game will help the Raiders keep the Dolphins offense off the field.
Defensively, the Raiders really need to get after the quad back but also play discipline against the run. They got to stay at home versus the running game and they can’t suffer any big games to misdirection. Collectively, the defense can’t get down if they give up any big plays. They also need to keep finding ways to takeaway the ball. If the Raiders can get a few sacks, it might be easier to force Tua into an interception. Plus, turnovers gives the offense momentum, a short field and favorable terms.
The Raiders and Dolphins both have 18 wins versus each other historically. They went to overtime the last time they played in 2021, but both teams were totally different. This time the Dolphins are playing to create some separation in their division. They also want to prove their status as a contender. Vegas, on the other hand, needs a win to elevate them in a crowded AFC Wild Card picture.
This is going to be a tough win on the road. But the Raiders could use the momentum headed into a division bout with the Chiefs next week.
Running the ball, converting plays downfield, creating turnovers, stopping the run and limiting big plays will help the Raiders win their third straight for the first time this season. If Vegas can secure this road win, Pierce will earn his third cigar celebration. Regardless, it’s nice to see the Raiders regain some swagger. Hopefully, they keep playing with that fun and intensity no matter if they win or lose.