Six lessons from the trenches moving to the Titans: Raiders versus Cardinals film breakdown

The Raiders loss to the Cardinals was even harder to relive in film on the all-22. We all know the game told a story of two teams. Vegas dominated the first half before the Cardinals willed their way to a comeback win.

However, there wasn’t too much difference in how the lines played in the first or second half. The defensive line looked out of gas and the offensive line looked even more out of rhythm in the second. Both showed cracks even with the team putting up a big lead in the first quarter.

The defensive line showed up in the box score by holding the Cardinals to 3-of-13 on third down attempts. They contributed with a sack and pressures. The Raiders defense walked away with one interception but should have had more.

That was all negated by the Cardinals converting two different two-point conversions. Arizona was also successful on 3-of-5 fourth downs.

Offensively, Josh Jacobs found seems and lanes to cut back but he did not get much push from the offensive line. Jacobs ran his hardest but still only registered 69 yards on 19 carries.

Quarterback Derek Carr was only sacked once, an improvement over Week One. However, Carr deserves some credit for getting the ball out quicker. It still felt like he forced the ball but at least he helped his line by getting the ball out a quicker, particularly in the first half when the offense was scoring. Here’s what else we learned from the tape.

What’s up with Chandler Jones?

Time to address the $51 million dollar question in the room. Chandler Jones, age 32, played 90% of the Raiders defensive snaps but came up with zero sacks through two weeks. Players like Jerry Hughes, Justin Houston, Khalil Mack, and Von Miller are all over the age of 30 with more than two sacks.

Watching the tape, Jones finds his way to the ball and into the play. Yet, he hasn’t shown the same consistent explosion rushing the passer or setting the edge. Jones is still a solid player. He won some reps but Jones has not shown the same elite abilities many hoped he would bring opposite Maxx Crosby. It’s hard to tell if it’s just rust bouncing back from last year’s injuries or if father time has caught up to him.

Jones was limited in practice this week due to rest. Hopefully, he can get his legs under him and show the consistent disruption the Raiders need. There’s too much pressure on Crosby as the team’s only respectable pass rusher.

Last year, Jones registered five sacks versus the Titans in Week One with the Cardinals. This time, Tennessee is expected to be without three-time Pro Bowl left tackle Taylor Lewan. Lewan went down with a knee injury versus the Bills. Let’s see if Jones and company can take advantage of their matchups.

More on Maxx Crosby

It’s hard to fault Maxx Crosby for much because he’s the team’s only consistent pass rusher. Keeping contain was a bigger priority versus Kyler Murray anyways.

Crosby did break into the box score with a sack and he continued to bring the heat via QB hurries and pressures. However, he could’ve walked away with at least a couple more sacks if he got his pads down and played with a little more control. Of course, tackling Murray is easier said than done. Plus, Crosby’s fire might make him whiff a few times but it also keeps him impacting plays.

Crosby found ways to consistently keep the right tackle on his heels with a barrage of power moves and lower techniques. Arizona had no answer for Crosby in pass rush situations. Thus, the great third down performance by this defense.

The Cardinals had no problem running right at Crosby. He also got beat on the option and almost got killed on a couple of read fakes.It’s not all on Crosby and the plays he made makes up for the plays he does not. He needs help.

Yet, for all the fire that Crosby brings, the Raiders need it on the big downs. They also need him to show a little more discipline in the run game, especially with more mobile QBs in the Raiders’ forecast. That’s how Crosby takes the next step as one of the greatest edge players in the league.

Where’s the defensive tackles?

We all saw the TikToks and Reels showing the Raiders tackles outran by Kyler Murray. They say the average play is about eight seconds but that infamous Murray run was twice as long. I don’t fault the group for that play. That was the wrong package for that moment in the game, even if they were prepping to stop an inside run.

The Raiders defensive line as a whole did solid at keeping Murray contained in the first half. They could have had a similar result if their offense converted some long drives or their secondary held onto an interception. Instead, they looked out of gas and got picked apart by Murray.

Arizona got away from the run game due to the big lead. However, the Raiders run defense was nothing to brag about. Upfront, the Raiders created a lot of seems and cutback lanes not playing discipline. They also missed some tackles and looked tired coming off the ball.

Johnathan Hankins and Andrew Billings were stout again but neither brings much as a pass rusher. Billings gets off the ball but his motor and athleticism is limited. It’s hard to keep Billings out there on pass downs but Hankins brings even less as a pass rusher.

Most of the big gains in the run were to the outside or due to missed tackles. Bilal Nichols looked solid in moments again. Him, Kendal Vickers and Clelin Ferrell can look disruptive one play and pedestrian the next. Vegas really needs someone to step up from the interior. They need constant disruption from the interior, other than Billings.

Vegas is not always going to be able to pick the best package versus the run and pass. They need the four best motors on the field in those big games.

James was missed

The Raiders offensive line struggled for the second straight week. They were down starting center Andre James. Unsurprisingly, the group struggled getting up to the second level and in blitz pickup.

The Left Side improved

They did a better job getting a body on body, specifically on the left side. Kolton Miller had a bounce back game, shaking off last week’s poor performance. He looked much more in control, using his feet and punch versus a group of pass rushers that weren’t as talented as the Chargers’ dynamic duo.

John Simpson got off the ball, got down field on screens and did better using his feet in pass pro. Simpson still got caught off balance and high a few times. He stopped his hands and his feet a few times in the run and pass. It was a better game for him but we still need more strength and power from him in the run game, both at the line of scrimmage and second-level.

Another rough outing for the collective

Rookie Dylan Parham struggled starting at center. His lack in size and anchor showed as bigger nose tackles pushed him around. Parham’s athleticism allowed him to get in front of people and he did his best to maneuver penetrating defenders. He did not do great getting push on double-teams. In fairness, he looked better at guard last week. Parham is learning trial by fire. It’s all about his response moving forward.

Tackles Jermaine Eluemunor and Thayer Munford continued to show their limitations. Munford is still really raw, evident by his three penalties. Eluemunor gave up two sacks. He is limited by length, size and strength. If you have two tackles splitting time, it’s cause you lack a good one.

Arizona relied on blitzes for pressure and the Raiders did a better job identifying those even if they didn’t win their individual assignments. This could have been a much worse performance if Arizona’s defensive line was better. The Cardinals lack an elite edge rusher. It could have been much worse.

Help is on the way?

That’s why they traded a sixth round pick for tackle Justin Herron and a seventh round pick. Herron started a few games with Josh McDaniels as the offensive coordinator. There’s hope he will compete for the starting right tackle spot or slide into the slide tackle role. Herron can’t be any worse than what the Raiders had the past few weeks.

Moving forward to the Titans

I wouldn’t rule Eluemunor out at right guard if Herron slides into the ride tackle role. Eluemunor won’t have to worry about as much speed at guard. It can work but he will have to worry about leverage versus more power players. He will bring more size inside to the Raiders offensive line if Parham keeps playing center. Lester Cotton Sr. is solid in pass protection but he does not give them much push in the run game.

If the Raiders get Andre James back, that will be a big boost for the Raiders offensive line. They will need him versus Jeffrey Simmons, one of the best nose tackles in the league. Simmons can also rush the passer.

All three Raiders running backs ran hard and effectively, despite uninspired blocking. Hopefully, the Raiders can establish the run versus the Titans. That starts with keeping Simmons on the other side of the line of scrimmage. The Raiders have struggled getting push and Simmons is fast off the ball and plays with strong hands.

Titans edge Bud Dupree isn’t the same elite player from a few years ago with the Steelers. He might not even play due to a hip injury. However, Dupree can still rush the passer and he has the speed and length to the give the Raiders right tackles problems.

Raiders Versus Cardinals: Keys for a Week Two bounce back

How did we get to 0-1?

A sunny morning consumed by moisture-filled clouds made L.A. feel like Oakland on a Sunday Morning. It set the table for a Raiders homecoming win over their rival Chargers. However, Justin Herbert and the Chargers had other plans.

The last time these teams played in SoFi, the game was delayed and the Bolts came out to a big lead over the Silver and Black. They held on for a home win but it felt like Raiders home loss. Raiders Nation turned out to welcome their team back to the market they once called home. This game was no different as the tailgate lots filled with Silver and Black trucks, flags, popups, grills. and every other tailgate essential.

Vegas got revenge by eliminating the Chargers from postseason play in the final week last year. L.A. remembered that and came out sharp and relentless. Not only were they healthy, but they also featured new offseason acquisition Khalil Mack. Mack was draft by the Raiders in the same class. as Derek Carr. You could argue No. 52 was one of the Raiders best draft picks ever.

Mack had his way with the Raiders, similar to last season when the Bears upset Vegas in Jon Gruden’s final game. The Chargers new pass rusher finished with three sacks, including a game winning one in the fourth quarter.

Herbert continued to show he did not fear battling Carr and the Raiders. Herbert evaded consistent pressure and threw strikes down field. L.A. looked like the better coached team. They also had more urgency than the Raiders under new head coach Josh McDaniels. However, the loss wasn’t that bad.

The Raiders made a few crucial mistakes that cost them the game. Carr took a few bad sacks and failed to convert on a few opportunities. The running game never caught consistent rhythm.

Upfront, the Raiders offensive line struggled versus the Chargers front as a whole. The defensive line found ways to get pressure but never got home. Both groups flashed but neither dominated at any point.

Collectively, the defense did enough to keep them in the game. They made a four-down stand and forced four punts. Although a turnover or sack would have helped their performance.

What was the atmosphere like?

Again, the Raiders dominated attendance in Los Angeles. You saw the fights and the antics, despite SoFi cutting people off at halftime.

We met Raiders fans from all over California. There were folks from L.A., Vegas, Fresno and elsewhere. After the loss, I walked around the stadium trolling Chargers fans.

“Buy my season tickets, please!” I chanted in my Raiders jersey.

It was reminder that I’d be there the next 50 years. It was also a reminder that the team was still having trouble building a fanbase, even with a super competitive roster.

Overall, Chargers fans were fine. The ones next to us teased in good fun. They put up with our drunk shenanigans and my section was relatively peaceful.

Pushing onto the Cardinals

Moving forward, the Raider go back home with a chance to earn their first win in the McDaniels’ era. The Cardinals are off a more than three-score loss to the Chiefs. Kansas City did the Raiders a favor by beating the Chargers in Week Two, a few nights ago. Vegas can win this game and move to 1-1, tied with the Chargers. Kansas City will still be in the driver’s seat of the AFC West but a loss will push the Raiders down further, especially if the Broncos beat the Houston Texans.

Arizona is expected to play without some speed at receiver as Rondale Moore and Andy Isabella will both miss the game. Key defensive players safety Jalen Thompson, end JJ Watt and corner Trayvon Mullen are all listed as questionable. Mullen could miss his return to Vegas, a few weeks after the Silver and Black shipped him out for a late draft pick.

Vegas will miss center Andre James if he misses this game. He had one of his best games as a Raider and held that line together best he could. Safety Tre’von Moehrig and linebacker Denzel Perryman could also miss some time which leaves big vacancies in the secondary. Cardinals TE Zach Ertz could have a big game. The Raiders will also be without one of their bigger corners, Anthony Averett, which could make A.J. Green a big red zone threat.

The McDaniels Era began

Don’t blame last week’s loss on preseason rust. The Raiders did not play a lot of key players in the preseason and there was an extended break between Week One and the final week of the preseason. Still, that’s not an excuse for getting outplayed by the Chargers.

Still, we can’t jump down McDaniels just yet. The real test for any coach is how his team responds after a loss or a bad half. This will be the real test. Can McDaniels steady the ship and keep the Raiders moving forward?

At the very least, the Raiders looked a bit more competitive with their play calling. The defense and offense both mixed things up in ways that past regimes did not. It’s on the players to execute now. This team holds veteran leadership at key positions with Carr, left tackle Kolton Miller and receiver Davante Adams. They must prove they can bounce back from a Week One let down.

How can the Raiders beat the Cardinals?

Arizona got away from the run game because they were down to the Chiefs fast. Expect them to stick with that longer, especially if the Raiders come out slow at home. Vegas ends also got upfield a lot last week, so expect some misdirection with backs and lots of action from Kyle Murray.

The Cardinals offensive line is a mix of veteran players you might recognize from years on other teams. It is up to the Las Vegas’ defensive line to take advantage of winnable matchups versus experienced washouts. They can’t go another week with no sacks.

All eyes should be on Chandler Jones going against the team he played for the last six seasons. Maxx Crosby led the league in pressures and hurries last week but he needs some help from Jones and the rest of the d-line. If the defensive line can make some plays on Murray, the Raiders should walkaway with a nice home win.

Offensively, the Raiders will need to do well in blitz pickup. That’s especially true if James misses this game. The Cardinals will try and mixup their blitzes and packages, not unlike what the Raiders will do with their defense.

Of course, Vegas features one of the best receivers and tight ends in the game. It’s up to Derek Carr to get the ball to Darren Waller and Adams early and often. That should open up plays for Hunter Renfrow in the intermediate and Josh Jacobs on check-downs. The Raider high-powered offense should come out swinging and put up points early like the Chiefs did versus Arizona.

Jacobs also needs to get going in the run game. This offensive line needs confidence. Helping Jacobs gain some yards should help the entire offense control the clock and gain some momentum. Jacobs will be crucial to protecting a lead as well as opening up the play action.

They must establish their identity by running the ball, pushing the ball down field, stopping the run and getting home to the quarterback. If the Raiders execute how they are supposed to, there’s no reason they can’t beat the Cardinals decisively.

What we learned from the trenches in Week One

Under 100 yards rushing and six sacks will not cut it for the Raiders.

The offensive line and defensive line played better than the box score indicated. It doesnt take all-22 to see a lot of the sacks were due to the quarterback holding the ball. The offense was able to convert some big plays.

The d-line was effective enough to force four punts and a failed fourth down. Los Angeles was under 50% on third down conversations. They impacted Chargers QB Justin Herbert more than the zero sacks indicate. Here’s what else we learned from the trenches in Week One.

The offensive line was beat from the jump

Los Angeles came out with much more swagger. Vegas was cheating in their stances before the snap on pass plays. Kahlil Mack’s leverage and strength was a problem from the jump. Joey Bosa’s length and hands also put fear in the Raiders tackles.

Kolton Miller didn’t regress

Miller finished with his worst PFF grade in years. He took a big shot in the back in the first that probably hurt him. His feet looked better than initially thought. Miller did well in blitz pickup. He got thrown to the ground and beat a few times because he stopped his hands or his feet. His poor outing was more of an indication of the entire group.

Guard play was not good

The guards didn’t get push on their double teams and struggled in blitz pickup. That is why this team did not run the ball effectively. Poor guard play also did the tackles no favors in pass pro.

John Simpson got caught leaning. Dylan Parham brought some extra juice when he came in. His speed was as advertised but he also got caught stopping his feet. Cotton Lester wasn’t much better. None were consistent with their pulling efforts. The Chargers tackles seemed unphased most of the day.

Andre James continues growimg

James looked more comfortable in blitz pickup and presnap. He made a few key blocks that helped spring Josh Jacobs. The second-year starter had a noticible spark off the ball. James used his hands and head placement well. A noticeable performance despite the chaos from the rest of his colleagues.

Right tackles are who we thought they were

Jermaine Eluemunor is a solid or adequate tackle but he is honestly better at guard. He doesn’t have the length or strength to really matchup with elite edges every play. Mack and Bosa both gave him problems. Eluemunor took his lumps but he kept fighting. That’s more competitive toughness than some other recent Raiders tackles.

Thayer Munford came in. He showed his youth jumping offsides. Munford got beat but he did show some potential. He has the length and feet to play tackle. It’s still unclear if he can develop fast enough to do it everyday this year. Punch timing was a little off and he gave up a little too much ground. He can fix that with some reps.

D-Line solid but not great

Andrew Billings continued to be a problem. His hands and anchor showed up in the run defense.

Maxx Crosby was also a problem. He did a lot to pressure and hurry Herbert.

Chandler Jones was solid. Both ends missed some tackles. Nobody got home.

They are paying Jones and Crosby a lot of money to sack the quarterback and create turnovers. Both stars failed to return that investment versus the Chargers. That can’t continue much more.

Still, the d-line did enough to keep the team in the game. Unfortunately, they just did not do enough to win the game. The group overall lacked cohession and consistent aggression needed to control the line.

Bilal Nichols made a couple plays. Clelin Ferrell showed a little resurgent energy getting off the rock. Johnathan Hankins was stout. They just needed more versus Justin Herbert’s combination of pocket presence and mobility.

What worries me is their conditioning. They used a deep rotation and guys still looked they were low on gas. Some added pressure from the inside could also help the ends finally get home.

It also worries me seeing the ends get too far upfield. They have Kyler Murray this week and four games versus Russell Wilson and Patrick Mahomes. Those issues got to get fixed or this d-line is in for some tough outs.

Don’t like Ferrell as a standup end

He looked better with his hand in the ground. The blitzes were effective and disguised well. Ferrell did not look comfortable in coverage either. It would be great to see him in the defensive tackle rotation. Perhaps he can create some pressure to help out Crosby and Jones. Ferrell just has to prove he can handle those double teams in the run.

All up from here

Ultimately, the Raiders showed good and bad upfront in Week One. The good news is they have 17 weeks to get better. The bad news is they have a lot to improve on.

Well these groups appear deeper than years past, they could still use some help. Another week in the yellow or red could mean some changes upfront.

Hence, why you saw guard Kelechi Osemele brought in for a visit and why they added center Billie Price to the practice squad. on defense, they’ve been connected to defensive Ndamukong Suh.

Hopefully, the trench play gets better this week at home versus the Arizona Cardinals. The no-preseason rust and excuses should be gone. Nobody wants to start the season 0-2. We could see some big changes on both sides of the trenches if there is not improvement versus the Cardinals.

Keys For Battling The Mack Attack And More From A Weird Week For Raider Nation

Forget about the Raiders and Chargers on Monday Night. It is not worth remembering the poor line play, ineffective running game and our QB falling into old ways.

Vegas got 21-0 skunked in the first half after the lightning delay. They came out and made plays but they never really got the offense rolling on full cylinders. Former Raiders TE Jared Cook also cooked em. One more reminder the Raiders have a long history of not covering tight ends. 

Truth be told, I won’t remember much about the game thanks to the food poisoning I got from that SoFi hotdog. What I will remember is all the Silver and Black surrounding the stadium in rain and shine. I will remember Hunter Renfrow looking like a safety making a play on fourth down. There were also notable highlights from Henry Ruggs, Darren Waller and Derek Carr. 

Still, the defense was not horrible. They kept getting in bad spots thanks to poor offense. Their secondary was also banged up. The offense took too long to wake up and they did not capitalize on a few big plays.

Either way, the Raiders find themselves looking up to the first place Chargers. The Raiders, Chargers and Broncos are all tied for the division’s lead now. It’s early in Justin Herbert’s career but it feels like he already has our number. It is his second time beating us in his young career.

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More Chaos From The Week

Our week got even weirder as Mercury continued in retrograde. First, it was Derek Carr talking about Joey Bosa’s reaction to the win. Carr felt disrespected by Bosa saying he falters under pressure and after big hits. Carr said he did not know why he said that?

C’mon Derek, you don’t know why he said that? Bosa has played and studied Carr as much as anyone as they are only a season apart and played their careers in the AFC West. Carr’s whining just made him sound weak after he got outplayed by a second year QB. It wasn’t all Carr’s fault but he did not sound like a competitor with the Mamba Mentality. There was no need for him to even respond.  

Then, the week got even weirder as the NFLPA director tried to get elected for another term. A report leaked Jon Gruden using a racial trope when describing NFLPA director DeMaurice Smith in 2011. 

Obviously, it is not a good look for the Raiders who have always stood for diversity and inclusion. However, let’s not act surprised.  Our bosses probably say the same shit in their emails. What he said was stupid and offensive but firing someone for an email sent a decade ago sets a bad precedent. 

Regardless, the Raiders shouldn’t get punished because Gruden was not even with the organization at the time. To be determined if anything bad happens.

Moving Onto the Bears This Week

Moving forward, the Raiders face a familiar face with Khalil Mack coming to town. Good teams find ways to bounce back after disappointing losses.

Mack comes into the game with four sacks for the season and he could double that if the Raiders offensive line does not improve from last week. Robert Quinn is also having a renaissance season with 4.5 sacks this year. That’s already more than double his sack total from last year. He is a big part this team leads the league in sacks.

On the other hand, the Bears will be down defensive tackle Akiem Hicks. Hicks really disrupts the middle of the offensive line which makes it easier for the edges and linebackers to make plays. The Raiders will happily take all the help they can get after their front five looked terrible last week. Linebacker Roquan Smith will still be roaming the middle. 

This Bears defense has played together for a while but they are not dominating like before partly due to bad spots caused by poor offense. 

Rookie QB Justin Fields turned in his best game in his second start. However, he has thrown two interceptions and only completed 49 percent of his passes across his two starts and four times playing. The only time he found the end zone was by rushing in Week One. The Bears should intro more QB running with Fields as the full-time starter and the Raiders aggressive defensive line. Fields also brings arm strength to stretch the field which is something the team missed with Andy Dalton. Allen Robinson, Marquise Goodwin and Darnell Mooney offer big play threats. Jimmy Graham could also have an awakening much like Mike G. and Jared Cook found ways to carve up the Raiders the past couple weeks. 

Starting running back David Montgomery is on IR so former Chiefs starter Damien Williams gets the start. It will be his most significant role since he left KC and opted out of last season due to COVID. 

Further, the defense allowed the 11th most passing touchdowns and the 13th most rushing yards. Chicago beat Detroit and Cincinnati but lost to the Browns and Rams. They sit at 2-2. 

How Can the Raiders beat the Bears?

This game could get ugly if the Raiders offensive line does not improve this week. They made a move by starting Brandon Parker and moving Alex Leatherwood to guard. Parker has been up and down his career but he has developed since coming into the league from a smaller school. Parker’s presence should help as long as he doesn’t lose confidence like he did last year versus ATL.

Hopefully all that size and athleticism will help the Raiders maul the Bears defensive line in on the right side. We’ve seen KO, Khalif Barnes and Denzelle Good all hold down the guard spot after playing right tackle so Leatherwood could follow that lineage. That still won’t answer questions at center or the other guard spot. 

This starting offensive line rounded out by Andre James, John Simpson and Kolton Miller is really a cast of homegrown and drafted players. Miller is the only proven starter. The rest of the group must step up to keep the Raiders postseason hopes alive and validate this front office’s questionable draft history. 

Either way, the Raiders should have the edge in the run game with Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake. They need to pound the rock to neutralize the Bears pass rushers and get this offensive line some confidence. 

Otherwise, Derek Carr gets an instance chance to redeem himself versus a great pass rush and a defense that wants to create turnovers. Again, it’s a careful balance between managing the game and knowing when it is time to make a big strike. Carr walks that line between keeping his team in the game and making the play that will help them win.

The running game will help Carr get that balance. It will keep the pass rushers off him and allow him to setup the play action. 

Defensively, the Raiders gotta limit lapses versus the tight end. They will also be down two of their top four corners with Damon Arnette and Trayvon Mullen both set to sit with an injury. This week’s receivers won’t test the Raiders like the Chargers last week. However, they’ve got speed and size to make the Raiders pay if Justin Fields is given too much time in the pocket. Allen Robinson is still one of the best receivers in the game and we can not let him get back on track versus us. 

Raiders Please Make This One Easy

When Was The Raiders Last Blow Out?

Thus, the Raiders must double down and establish their identity at home this week. Let’s see them get an early lead and force the Bears sputtering offense to force big plays. Vegas should run the ball, take deep shots and don’t turn the ball over. Pressure the young quarterback, don’t get beat deep and stop this running game from getting established on your way to a decisive win.

The Silver and Black must show their identity versus a middle of the road Bears team if they want to stay in playoff consideration. Impose your will, dominate this team or whatever cliche you need to eliminate any questions about the Raiders’ legitimacy.

Don’t let Chicago stay in the game by giving up sacks, getting beat for big plays or letting this running game get established. All eyes will be on our corners. Yes, we’re short-handed but everybody got to step up. Great teams don’t lose to so-so or good teams. We will have a better idea where the Raiders fall on the ok to great team scale by how they come out after a loss.

Can Carr and Gruden make the necessary adjustments to help this team avoid another midseason collapse? Prove this ain’t last year with a decisive win over a Bears team that is trying to find themselves. Carr and Gruden need conversations focused on their performances again, rather than the off field stuff too. Just get back on the winning track this week.

Oh, and please stop comparing Mack and Madd Maxx. Totally different players.

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2021: Back and More Silver than ever

Last season doesn’t really deserve an exit blog post. That is why you won’t find one on this blog. It’s also cause I’ve spent the last year raising teenagers. Thus, this is probably the least I’ve written about the Raiders over the last five years. Time to make up for lost time before the Raiders officially welcome fans to Allegiant for Monday Night Football..

2020’s Conclusion

Insert your favorite failed milk carton challenge and that’s what last year feels like for Raider Nation. The Raiders headed towards the right direction despite us all knowing it was built on a crooked foundation.

They reset the team pretty hard after a 6-3 start resulted in another missed playoff attempt. Many thought that would finally mean a new quarterback. Sike. Derek Carr is still leading the helm. At one point, they were even talking about extending dude. It’s not bad given the Lions got two first-rounders for Matt Stafford. AKA there was a premium even on solid-good quarterbacks.

This time the offensive line took the blame. Gone is staple Gabe Jackson. Trent Brown, once a marquee free agency acquisition, shipped for greener New England Pastures. Rodney Hudson is out of here too. Watch Hudson and Jackson both fill missing pieces for their respective NFC West teams. Davontae Booker and Nelson Agoholor are not returning on offense and that hurt a bit. Both were real bargains turned bright spots. It’s not surprising they left for more money and better opportunities.

Last season, our secondary never came along. The young players like Arnette and Abrams struggled along with many others. At least, Erik Harris and LaMarcus Joyner finally left the Silver and Black behind. Daryl Worley is gone too. Nevin Lawson is finally out as of the preseason. We were tired of seeing them in other team’s highlights.

Jeff Heath surprisingly got his walking papers. Despite getting picks, he was let go. Fellow former Cowboys Maliek Collins was not brought back. Raekwon McMillan, Vic Beasley and Takk McKinley never did much for the Raiders so they are out too. No use crying over spoiled defenders.

Arden Key and Mo Collins joined the 49ers after the Raiders wouldn’t even give them a shot to compete for a job. It’s ok because they underperformed but it was not that long ago we thought they would be still. Sorry to Reggie McKenzie’s draft picks. Derek Carr is the best one left.

Offseason Recap

Jon Gruden went out and hired one of the best defensive coordinators, Gus Bradley, to make this unit competent. He wasted no time putting together a new defense. Yannick Ngakoue joined as the marquee pass rush signing, despite all his previous Raiders trolling. Quinton Jefferson came from the Bills as a cap casualty. Soloman Thomas is a redemption project. The former top-five pick is still trying to stay healthy mentally and physically as he ascends in the league. Johnathan Hankins was brought back as the run stuffer.

Darius Philon was out the league but he is back with Bradley, his DC from the Raiders day. At least, David Irving is gone…

Safeties Trevon Moehring and Tyree Gillespie were added as good values in the draft. Rasul Douglas and Casey Hayward were added as vet corners to compete. Douglas didn’t make the roster. Karl Joseph came back after a really good year in Cleveland. It was surprising how cheap too.

On offense, their best signing was backup running back Kenyan Drake. The Raiders got a lot of flack for the signing since they were already good in the backfield. At least, Drake and Jacobs are good friends and know how to work together.

The team also drafted a right tackle with their first pick. Many people saw Alex Leatherwood as a developmental tackle taken too high. Many people, including me, thought the same thing about Kolton Miller but we were wrong. Either way, the tackles taken above Leatherwood are both banged up right now. Not a bad pick after all?

Otherwise, the team tried to replace Agoholor with John Brown. Brown asked for his releases after not being happy with his role. They also added veteran Willie Snead for some veteran presence and junk work. Zay Jones was brought back. It’s not the huge moves Raiders fans hoped for but they really believe in Hunter Renefrow, Bryan Edwards and Henry Ruggs III taking the next step. Cough, if you have three, you have no alpha. Either way, I think Snead is a versatile backup who fits the group. Jones and Carr get along well. The young guys hopefully take the next step developing as consistent starters.

Anyways, Denzelle Good is also back. He saved us in many OL crunches. Shoutout Khail Barnes! Andre James is also getting a lot of hype as Hudson’s replacement. Free-agent signee Nick Martin was supposed to push him in camp but I do not think that happened. There’s been a lot of talk about Andre James’ chemistry with Derek Carr this camp. Patrick Omameh and Richie Incognito are back. Incognito is already banged up and Omameh has never been more than depth. Omameh didn’t even make last roster cut. Hopefully, Jon Simpson can take the next step so we don’t rely on them.

Oh, Marcus Mariota also came back. The Raiders may trade him before the year ends or they put in a package just for him. They could use him like Baltimore used RGIII in spots or how the Saints used Hill in gadget formations.

The Draft

Once again, this draft could be defined by who the Raiders did not take. They kept the status quo at receiver and quarterback despite the blog-o-sphere hating it. They drafted more offensive linemen and defensive backs because their track record with developing those players is bad the past decade. Sorry Tanner Muse, another wasted third round pick. Muse should fit in Seattle though. Time will tell how we remember the 2021 class but the Raiders need Leatherwood to dominate instantly if they want to have a shot at the playoffs.

2021 Hope

Speaking of hope, the Raiders have some for the first time in a bit. Allegiant Stadium and the practice facility in Henderson are state-of-the-art. Hopefully, their A.C.s are too with that Vegas heat. LOL.

Right now, tickets in the blackhole are selling like at over $700 each. It’s a few hundred dollars just to get in the seats. Raiders Fans have been to games at Allegiant but imagine the playoffs? Hope we can all afford to make the trip. I’d hate to see the stadium gentrified with corporate betting sponsors and not Raiders fans. Well, I guess it’s better than shit on your feet from overflooded toilets when you’re peeing at halftime.

SoFi Stadium

Speaking of new stadiums, SoFI is everything good and bad that you heard. Yes, there’s traffic and it’s also the best football viewing experience I have ever felt. Corporate sponsorships are everywhere but that place was packed with Raiders fans when I went to watch us play the Rams. It’s definitely worth going to, especially when the Raiders play the Chargers on Monday night. Catch me in section 211.

AFC West

In Kansas City, the Raiders hold confidence as they nearly beat the Chiefs twice last year. However, that team should be just as good. Meanwhile, the rest of the Raiders’ AFC Rivals got better.

As for the rest of the AFC West, the Chargers do actually look good. I caught a few of their practices since I live in L.A. Justin Herbert might be the best quarterback in the AFC West, not named Pat Mahomes. The defense should also get healthy but to to be determined.

The Broncos added Teddy Bridgewater which should make them legit. Their defense also gets Von Miller back. Bridgewater with those weapons will be decent at the least.

Thus, the Raiders can’t just pencil in four division wins. They are going to win. If they don’t it should cost Jon Gruden his head. The coordinators and roster took the fall the past two years. It’s Gruden who should next if the Raiders can’t bring a playoff game to Vegas this year.

Those are high expectations but they come with having the most tenured quarterback and highest-paid coach in the division. If all you need was a defense, Bradley and the new additions should solve that… Right?

Something In the Water

You’ll notice I left Denzel Perryman and Gerald McCoy out of the acquisition segment. Why?

I wanted McCoy five years ago and Perryman two years ago if not when they came in the league. They always had the athleticism and chip on their shoulders to be Raiders.

Unfortunately, McCoy is off an injury. He joined the team late so he must have some juice left if they liked his workout? Or, they have no confidence in all the defensive line help they enlisted in free agency. It just felt weird.

Same for Perryman. They could’ve signed him this year or last. How did he not win a job in Carolina? The Raiders have invested in free agency and drafted the position in the past years. Usually, I go for adding veteran leadership and seeing what a player can bring.

Except for this time it feels like Vegas must not feel like they have enough if they traded for Perryman this late and flirted with K.J. Wright. They brought in Wright after final roster cuts. We will see what these guys have left when they have to chase LaMar and those AFC West Tight Ends.

I get Gus Bradley wants guys he knows, who also know his scheme. However, do you go back to your thing from two or three years ago if you got a better one five years younger? Hell Nah…

Guess we will find out in Week One

The Ravens come to Vegas and it will be a real test for the Raiders. Baltimore and the Raiders usually end in a dramatic fashion. This one shouldn’t be different. Lamar Jackson is a God and they added Sammy Watkins and Rashod Bateman to give him more weapons. Bateman got hurt but Hollywood Brown should be back. Good tests for the Raiders improved secondary and pass rush.

Baltimore also features veterans across the offensive and defensive line. Our revamped units will have a real tough matchup. The Ravens’ biggest test includes figuring out their own pass rush on the edge.

Oh yeah, Marcus Peters also comes to town. Although it’s not his town, you know he always has extra gear for the team he grew up loving. Let’s see if he can pick off Derek Carr and take one to Vegas’ end zone for Oakland. I’d hate and love to see that for the town. (Tear I wrote this before he got hurt! Prayers for Peters for real.)

The Ravens also had several injuries in their running back room. Their top-two runners both went down with injuries. They signed former Raiders runner Latavius Murray after dude refused to take a paycut in New Orleans. Murray has been solid since leaving the Raiders for shared roles in Minnesota and New Orleans. It looks like the Tay Train will make a stop in Vegas only a few weeks after the Raiders thought about signing him.

As long as the Silver and Black come out flying around and running the ball, they should be able to win Week One. Many bettors are calling Vegas a lot but Raiders fans know better than to get excited about that. The opening game usually comes down to heart, excitement and execution as many teams are far from finished products.

Either way, it could be a nice statement win to show the AFC that the Raiders can take down playoff contenders. All eyes will be on Gruden and the Raiders Monday Night as they start their quest to finally make the playoffs under their legendary coach.

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