Raiders versus Steelers and getting the Pats off our back

The Raiders play an old time rival in the Steelers this week. Unfortunately, Steelers legend Franco Harris died this week. That should give Pittsburgh some extra will in a must win.

It is also going to be cold. We know Derek Carr doesn’t always play well in the cold.

Expect a heavy dose of Davante Adams. He is also a mismatch and good luck tackling him in the cold. Same for Darren Waller. Expect him to have a similar impact as last game. Carr will rely on his safety blankets in Pittsburgh.

On defense, the Raiders must harrass Kenny Pickett. Maxx Crosby didn’t register a sack and neither did Chandler Jones. Hopefully, that changes this week. They also have to wrap up on Najee Harris. Don’t let him break anything off. Denzel Perryman needs another big game.

Versus the Patriots, the Raiders squeezed out a win thanks to a turnover. Some of it was luck and some of it was stupidity by the other team. Either way, we will take it over a team we have not beat in damn near twenty years.

Vegas still needs some help to make the playoffs. It won’t matter if they lose this game. Pittsburgh is favored by 2.5 points, which is not a lot at home. It’s honestly a toss up because you never know what Raiders team you will get.

The Steelers are young but they have speed on the outside. That could make it a long day for the Raiders secondary.

Vegas also can not make it easy with penalties and turnovers again. If the Raiders can execute and minimize miscues they should come out victorious.

The good news is the Raiders will get their guards back as well as Andrew Billings. Billings is going to be needed versus the run. He should also perform better with a smaller role, since the supporting cast is playing better. The Raiders also need their guards back versus a physical Steeler o-line.

Honestly, expect this to be an old school game. Both offenses may make big plays but the team that controls the clock and creates turnovers will win and keep their season going one more week.

Raiders versus Pats: Recovering from last week and beating New England

What kind of team cuts all their guards? The Raiders do. This is the same team that loses to a hobbled Super Bowl Champion led by a QB fresh off another team. Don’t forget it was a defacto home game packed with Raiders fans, yet Vegas still lost.

Many Rams fans left before their team’s game-winning drive. Most sat quiet as they got heckled by Raiders fans. Until, chants of “Bakkkeeerrr…” hit the concourse on the route out.

Underwhelming Expectations

Anyways, the Raiders playoff prospects are basically dead. They sit in a three-way tie for 10th place. A win over the Patriots could keep them treading water but a loss helps their draft pick. Depends how you look at it but Josh McDaniels should want to beat his old team. It’s also a home game and the fans deserve better than the collapse we got at SoFi.

Not scoring 20 points again will not cut it. McDaniels is supposed to be an offensive mind and he has every tool he could want. He might even get Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller back which gives the offense even less excuses.

The Guard Situation

Back to the offensive line. Seeing John Simpson get cut was surprising. Simpson started the last two seasons and started this season at left guard. He didn’t play bad in his limited action but quickly fell out of the offensive line rotation. He came back into the fold at right guard after Alex Bars got hurt. Bars isn’t great but he was getting better as the season went on.

Simpson did not look good against the Rams. He got caught leaning, turning his shoulder, playing high and not punching well. Simpson did do some solid things in the run game as far as pulling and getting to the next level. He did not get enough push though.

Rams DL Greg Gaines is an underrated defensive lineman though. He gave he entire group problems. Simpson also plays better on the left side.

Vegas also cut guard Lester Cotton. Cotton took many first team reps in the offseason. He entered the season starting at right guard. Cotton was hurt and he hasn’t played in weeks so it was also a bit surprising. Bars went on IR so he will probably miss the rest of the season.

The Raiders also added guard Netane Muti. Muti did not play much in Denver and he was mid in previous seasons per PFF. We’ll see how much time the Raiders give him but he is big and strong. He should add some push to the unit at the very least.

Questions facing both lines the rest of the season

Jermaine Eluemunor probably moves inside to guard and the Raiders start Thayer Munford at tackle. Eluemunor has been limited in practice due to injuries but he should actually play better at guard. He won’t be as limited by his speed and feet. He will have to play with more leverage.

Munford looked solid when he made his last start. He will need to keep showing consistency with extended playing time.

On the defensive line, there s a chance Andrew Billings returns. That should help the Raiders run defense. Chandler Jones finally broke the sack seal and hopefully he keeps that going versus the team he won a Championship with earlier in his career. Clelin Ferrell is looking solid as the defacto sixth man. Bilal Nichols is finally getting home. Jerry Tillery is getting upfield. All of them could be a little more consistent, especially as they play for roles in Vegas or elsewhere next year.

Overall, the Raiders have some questions to answer along both lines. Is Nichols worth his price tag next year? Can Tillery and Ferrell stay on the field? Can Jones keep getting to the quarterback in his 30s? Will Billings keep progressing to earn himself a payday?

What will the offensive line look like after this season? Can Andre James keep progressing? Can Kolton Miller make the jump to elite? Will Dylan Parham improve his technique? Are either of the players on the right side in plans beyond this season?

Rebounding versus the Pats

Nobody wants to lose to the Pats. We know the history between these teams. New England has been smoking the Raiders every time they play since the tuck rule. Vegas hired an apprentice at the head coach and head personnel roles to scale that winning culture to the Raiders. Results have been mixed to say the least.

Either way, Josh McDaniels wants to win this game whether he admits it or not. The Patriots defense is tough and highly ranked. Their pass rush, led by Matthew Judon, could give the banged up Raiders problem. This game should obviously start and stop with Josh Jacobs. They also need to find ways to keep Davante Adams in the gameplan. That means more quick passes to let Tae create after the catch.

The Raiders defense has been improving. A lot of that is improved play from the role players along the defensive line. Maxx Crosby also continues to look like one of the best players in the game.

Vegas needs to stop the run and play discipline in coverage. The Raiders are good in spurts but they can struggle getting off the field. They can get beat deep or give up a bad penalty that keeps an offense on the field. Their own offense can also be streaky. They don’t always capitalize on big plays or good field position. The Raiders offense is not great in the zone so that puts the defense in tough spots.

If the Raiders can get pressure and protect their own quarterback it should be a close game. If they can do that and control the game with their run game they should walk away with a victory. A turnover or two created by the defense should also help. Some big plays from the offense will help too.

Hopefully, Vegas asserts their will and identity. Otherwise, it could get ugly if the Raiders offensive line is shake and struggles to create lanes. It could also get bad if they don’t stop the run and let the Pats offense pick them apart.

A win here proves the Raiders are willing to fight for their season and their head coach. I get tired of asking the team to play for pride every year but often times that is all we have to play for. This team isn’t quite at that point yet but they are not far. Many of these guys are playing for contracts here or to prove they can stay in this league.

Obviously a win over his old boss should give McDaniels some confidence. It would also be nice if the Raiders could finally Just Win Baby over the Patriots again.

Raiders Vs. Rams: How Vegas can get first real regular season win in SoFi

Finally, the Raiders looked like the team we hoped they would be versus the Chargers. The wins over the Broncos and Seahawks were ugly. This one did not start great but it did not come down to the last play.

Vegas disrupted Justin Herbert often. They stuck with the run early and late. Even when results were mixed, the Raiders stuck with their gameplan. Derek Carr wasn’t perfect but he converted strategic shots that helped the team catchup and pull away. The Raiders are on a three game winning streak and they deserve credit for that.

Even in the scheme of bad Chargers offensive lines, I’ve never seen the Los Angeles offensive line play so bad. It’s hard to tell if the Raiders success stems from their own growth or the Chargers lack of talent. Either way, they are starting to build momentum after playing two of their best games this season over the last two weeks. I’ll start believing they turned over a new leaf if they can dominate another winnable matchup in the Rams, with only a few days rest. Hopefully, Chandler Jones’ 3 sacks versus the Chargers was not a fluke. Let’s see if Jerry Tillery and Clelin Ferrell can build on last week too. They did face a really inexperienced offensive line on a Chargers offense that was down key receivers.

Either way, shout out to Tillery for making some plays versus his old team. I was worried with Andrew Billings out. However, Tillery added some get off, length and gap penetration. Of course, the interior run defense wasn’t the same without Billings. Yet, the pocket collapsed from the inside more last week. Let’s see the interior line keep it up on Thursday Night.

As for the offensive line, it was not their best game of the year. They got mixed up on some stunts. It would also be great if they could get more push on their double teams.

Jermaine Eluemunor looked good. He did a better job keeping his feet alive, staying balanced and using leverage. Khalil Mack did not break the box score. They did their best to neutralize the elite rusher. Otherwise, Carr and Jacobs really did the line a lot of favors. There honestly should’ve been more sacks and negative plays.

Regardless, the important thing is the Raiders did not get swept by the Chargers. They made up grown versus their AFC West foe and moved two spots up in the AFC playoff race. Vegas is in the tenth spot, two games behind the Jets for the final playoff spot.

The Raiders will not have much time to celebrate their wins. They play L.A.’s other team in SoFi on Thursday. Expect a full Raiders Nation takeover with the Rams down their starting quarterbacks. The Rams signed Baker Mayfield who has had success versus the Raiders before. He is also fresh.

Still, this is the Raiders game to lose. Davante Adams will face off versus Jalen Ramsey but the Vegas passing game should still find an advantage with Aaron Donald out. Bobby Wagner had an amazing game last week versus his old team. He could be huge in this game, especially if Josh Jacobs is not a hundred percent. Still, the Raiders gotta get some surge versus the Rams front before they worry about Wagner or the backers. Greg Gaines can give the interior line some problems and Leonard Floyd still offers enough length and speed to gibe the Raiders tackles issues.

Los Angeles did show some life with Cam Akers back. The Raiders will need to stay discipline as the Rams should run the ball. Vegas should also expect some trickery from the Home team that is struggling to move the ball. TuTu Atwell had his best game at receiver last week. Van Jefferson can also make plays at receiver. It’s not a lot but enough for the Rams to give the Raiders inconsistent secondary problems. Double true if Rock Ya-Sin remains out.

Overall, this is a winnable game for the Raiders. That’s also what makes it scary. How many times have we seen the Raiders lose to teams they should beat?

If Josh McDaniels wants to prove he is building Rome, he needs to show he can win winnable games. Beating division foes and winning in OT is great but winners beat the teams their supposed team. Vegas can not make it easy for the Rams to hang around with penalties and turnovers.

The Raiders should come out aggressive again on defense. They need to attack whoever plays QB. Our defense will also get tested versus Cam Akers.

Vegas needs to take what they want on offense. Push the ball down the field when necessary but stick to feeding Jacobs as much as possible. If the Raiders can execute, they should leave their second home with a win. That will give them a fourth-straight win headed into a matchup with the Patriots. Not only is that McDaniels’ former team, but the Pats are on spot above the Raiders in the standings. One game at a time but the Raiders playoff hopes get an inch bigger with a win over the Rams this week.

Keys to getting a third-straight win

Neither the Raiders or Chargers seasons are going as planned. Both were suppossed to be Super Bowl contenders.

Los Angeles is still in the mix. However, they lost two of three. The 49ers and Chiefs reminded the Bolts that they are not quite elite. Vegas has won thr last two games. They are on the outside of the playoff hint but a win over the Chargers helps confidence and positioning.

The formula to beating the Chargers revolves around again getting the ball to Davante Adams and Josh Jacobs. Jacobs ended the game last week and Adams waived the Broncos good night.

Vegas is much better with short third downs. L.A. also struggles stopping the run. They have allowed the fifth most rushing yards. The Chargers have allowed Their secondary is beatable. Collectively, they have allowed the 13th least passing yards.

The pressure will be on the offensive line. They did not play well in Week One. Andre James left the game and our old friend Khalil Mack came up big. This is not that offensive line. The group has gotten better since that time but they still lack the traits to compete with the Chargers for four quarters.

On defense, the Raiders know Justin Herbert is one of the best competitors and talents in the backfield. Keenan Allen and Mike Williams can obviously give the Raiders secondary problems with their size and speed. Williams is out but the Chargers have found speed and mismatches elsewhere. Don’t sleep on Gerald Everrett and his breakout season. The tight end could be a huge x-factor moving the chains.

Again, the pressure will be on the Raiders defensive line. They are off one of their best games of the season. Andre Billings will miss this game which puts a big damper in the Raiders run defense. The Chargers line is down two starters and trots out two rookies. Rookie guard Zion Johnson has been solid. Jerry Tillery is a former Chargers first round pick and eyes will be on him trying to fill Billings’ snaps. This is a winnable matchup for the Raiders defensive line. They need to build some momentum after last week’s win over the Seahawks.

The win over Seattle was far from perfect but at least the Raiders established the run and got to the quarterback. Shoutout to Josh Jacobs for having one of the best games in Raiders history. Pay that man or some one else will. Hopefully, the calf gives him no problems versus the Bolts. Again, the Raiders need their run game to control this matchup.

If the Raiders can again find ways to convert in the red zone and stay on the field, they can keep Justin Herbert off the field. Moreover, they need to apply pressure to prevent Herbert from just throwing dimes all day. If they can do that as well as protect Derek Carr they have a great chance to win their third straight game.

The playoffs are still an uphill battle but a win over the Chargers helps them gain some ground. A third consecutive win should also give this team some confidence. The last thing they want is to get swept by Los Angeles’ least favorite football team. Time once again to Just Win Baby!

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?

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!