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.
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.
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.