Raiders versus Broncos: Keys for securing Vegas’ first win

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is it McDaniels?

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

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

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

Moving onto the Broncos

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

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

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

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

Play a complete game on offense

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

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

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

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

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

The Defense must make a play

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

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

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

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

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

Please Just Win Baby!

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

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

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

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

Raiders vs Titans: Keys for Vegas to avoid 0-3

The Las Vegas Raiders are a few plays away from easily being 2-0. They lost their first two games by less than a score each. Both times they had opportunities to win the game. Unfortunately, they went the other way and the Raiders are still desperately seeking their first win this season.

Derek Carr’s play, especially on last week’s final drive, inspired lots of conversations. The offense was ineffective in the second half, after looking very good in the first half. Vegas could’ve put the Cardinals away with a score multiple times. Carr looked out of sync with Renfrow and Adams on the final drive.

Vegas also could have sealed the game with a kick, instead of throwing the ball to Hunter Renfrow. The Raiders could have also handed the ball off but they looked aggressive for the first time in the first half and the wrong time. That’s on coaching.

The Raiders defense played in mud in the second half. Tackling Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray is tough, especially when the offense does you no favors. They used a rotation and found success staying in their passing lanes in the first half, but they looked gassed late in the second half. Some blame falls on the front office for sitting on cap space, trading Yannick Ngakoue, bringing in Chandler Jones, and not drafting an interior player.

Raiders must rebound

The real Raiders will show up this week. They lost a close game to a division rival in Week One and lost an emotional game in the home opener. Derek Carr played bad in one game and decent in another. The defense has had moments of good and bad.

Right now, we look like a team that can’t overcome injuries or their own issues. It looks like the new coaching and regime reconfigured away their edge, an edge that helped them secure a playoff bid last year. The X’s and O’s are better this year but the Raiders got to put it all together and win.

Ultimately, the players must execute but the people behind the scenes hold them accountable and puts them in positions to win. How the Raiders respond from getting a game stolen from them will determine if this team can will itself back into relevancy. They could come out emotionless and flat. Tennessee will look for their own spark at home.

Therefore, the Raiders must come out like they won the last two weeks. They must come out like they believe in each other and this coaching staff. It’s still early in the season but the Raiders must show some resiliency.

Playoff teams aren’t built, they are created. The Raiders must show they know how to win and expect themselves to win with a big outing versus the Titans. They can’t keep settling for less than excellence if they want to prove themselves as a postseason team. Vegas’ response is a statement because the Titans will not go down easy.

Tennessee needs a win too

The Titans got popped by the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night. Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill threw two interceptions and running back Derek Henry was held to less than two yards-per-carry on 13 carries. Former Raiders end Denico Autry landed the team’s only sack in the contest. The Titans forced zero interceptions and the game got out of hand with four Buffalo scores in the third quarter.

In Week One, The Titans gave up a big lead and couldn’t score in the final quarter. They took a one-point loss to the Giants. Henry didn’t surpass 100 yards in that game. Tannehill played a bit better with no interceptions and two touchdown passes. Rookie Kyle Phillips was their leading pass catcher. The biggest difference was Tennessee got five sacks in Week One. Jeffrey Simmons registered two sacks. Edge Rashad Weaver registered a sack and Edge Bud Dupree got to the quarterback once. Tennessee might not have an elite pass rush without Harold Landry but they can beat lesser matchups.

More games, more injuries

The Raiders are favored by two on the road, which tells you how far the Titans have fallen. Both teams are trying to avoid going 0-3, while fighting key injuries.

Josh Jacobs traveled to Tennessee despite missing a couple of practices with illness. Jacobs didn’t do much with many carries last week but that’s more on the Raiders being without Andre James. The Raiders are going to need the run game with Hunter Renfrow out. Vegas relies on Renfrow for intermediate work but they’ll need to stay ahead of the chains with the run game this time.

Jacobs should finally get loose this week or we could finally get Zamir White some touches. James was a limited participant in practice this week after missing all last week with a concussion. The Raiders will need James to help the Silver and Black contain Jeffrey Simmons. Either way, the young interior offensive line should benefit from another week’s experience. They must do better getting a push for the run game.

Getting Tre’von Moehrig back is also big for the Raiders. He brings added size and range to the Raiders pass defense. Safety Duron Harmon made consecutive big plays in over time in Moehrig’s place. The Raiders should roll with more three safety looks as linebacker Denzel Perryman will be out again this week.

Run game must get started

The Raiders’ chances for success increase as the run game gets going. Vegas must get push on the double teams and keep Jeffrey Simmons out of the backfield. Keeping the offense out of 3rd and long is key to maintaining drives and scoring.

Get the ball to Adams

No Hunter Renfrow puts pressure on Derek Carr on those third downs. He’s got to find ways to get the ball the ball out fast and down the field. We know Carr and Davante Adams have chemistry but we did not see that in the Raiders overtime. Adams should get the ball early and often. He can get open on every play but Carr’s got to get him the ball down the field. The Raiders need the deep element of their offense to reach their potential. That starts with Carr getting the ball downfield to Adams on any down.

Rely on tight ends

Beyond that, Carr must use his tight ends. Darren Waller and Foster Moreau can counteract the defense’s focus on Adams. Moreau and Waller are walking mismatches even if the Titans have solid safeties. Both can help the Raiders move the sticks.

Don’t forget Henry

On defense, the Raiders must stop the run. The Titans receiving core is nothing compared to the last few seasons. Tennessee needs a big game from Derek Henry and that will be hard with Taylor Lewan out. Henry still always finds a way to tear up the Raiders. Vegas must play discipline and make tackles. Don’t let Henry take this game over with a big burst.

Take the ball away

Additionally, the Silver and Black must find ways to get off the field. Last week, they got killed on long drives but they had opportunities to end the offense’s momentum with a sack or interception. This week, the Raiders must find ways to come up with a big turnover or two to get off the field. They should also get chances to force Ryan Tannehill into a mistake. Lewan out leaves the Titans without their best run and pass blocker. Tannehill will take a chance here and there. It’s up to the Raiders defense to do something when Tannehill takes a chance.

The Raiders defense has made enough plays to win but they have not made the play that helps them win like Arizona did last week. Vegas must force its way off the field by capitalizing on a couple of turnovers.

Make plays, not excuses

Vegas walked into this season with big expectations and now it’s time for them to deliver a victory. It’s time for Derek Carr to prove he’s not ‘that muthafucker,’ or maybe he needs to prove he is. It’s time for this defense to prove their improved with new leaders and key players. It’s time to prove Adams made his decision for football reasons. It’s time to prove Josh McDaniels and the front office knows what they’re doing.

If the Raiders come out and set the tone with their offense by utilizing their mismatches and their defense is not totally crushed by long drives, there is no reason they can’t beat a Titans team that is also suffering from injuries and identity. A win for the Raiders could help them finally get a bit closer to builder an identity.

Don’t forget, the Aces won a title. The Silver and Black are the only Vegas franchise yet to deliver a title. 0-3 just puts a title that much more out of reach.

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.

Silver and Black Take SoFi Part Two: Preseason lessons and keys for beating the Bolts

The Vegas Raiders enter the 2022 season in a unique position. They made the playoffs for the first time since 2016, despite firing their head coach midseason.

Vegas starts this season with a new head coach Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler. Both are cut from the New England Patriots.

McDaniels’ first stint as a head coach in Denver was filled with mix results. Now, he’s tasked with helping this team not take steps back in the league’s toughest division.

They kept the continuity at quarterback by bringing back Derek Carr. The Silver and Black also acquired the best receiver in the game by trading draft picks for DeVante Adams.

Adams and Carr have a historic connection dating back to their days in Fresno. Ironically, they last played together in the Vegas Bowl before entering the draft.

The Silver and Black also re-tooled some of their defense. Raider Nation felt blessed just having a defense that was in the middle of the pack last year. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham is suppossed to help them get to the next level with more disguises and different looks. Right now, the defense appears on track with a mix of improved athletes and veterans who kmowcthe scheme.

Can you believe Week One is here already? Training camp is over and the 53-man rosters are complete. The NFL inserted a weird defacto by week for the first time. They cut the fourth week of the preseason after extending the regular season last year. Here is what we learned from this preseason and keys to beating the Chargers in Week One.

What happened to Alex Leatherwood?

Offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood flamed out about as fast as possible for a first round pick. Leatherwood was seen as a first rounder due to his physicality and winning-pedigree from Alabama. He played across the line. Many thought he would need some time to develop into a great pass blocker.

The biggest issues were his hand timing and placement. We saw much of that in the preseason and last year. While he looks the part due to his feet and athleticism, he lacks solid strength and explosiveness at the point of the attack to dominate at any positon on the o-line.

Still, it seems at least on the outside that Leatherwood had tools you can buid around. Whatever blockers and issues he dealt with, the Raiders deemed them not worth keeping him around.

They also sent a message to the rest of the roster. Raiders fans know too well that nobody is safe, especially after a regime change. The preseason confirmed a lot about Leatherwood’s flaws but it remains to be seen if it was worth giving up on the 2021 first rounder entirely. He was adequate at guard last season.

Moving forward with tackle Jermaine Eluemunor

Jermaine Eluemonor won’t blow you away with his measurables or NFL resume. However, he knows this scheme and can play across the offensive line. Eluemunor flashed the physicality, balance and athleticism to be a solid starting tackle. He has gotten better since he entered the league. The question is can he maintain that for an entire season regardless who he lines up against. Can he anchor the strong side of a playoff-contending team?

Well he isn’t the same kind of athlete as Raiders right tackles from the past, Eluemunor does bring more balance, hustle and toughness than Brandon Parker or Leatherwood. He will get tested early by a dynamic Chargers pass rush. A good showing versus Los Angeles might give him the confidence to play any other dynamic rush duo.

Personally, I’d still like to see the Raiders add a versatile veteran o-line player like Eric Fisher, Ereck Flowers or Daryl Williams. They might be one injury away from having to make that move. Their backup offensive line has less than a handful of starts combined. To be determined if the Raiders make a move to boister their oline but they do lead the league in cap space.

Saying goodbye to Trayvon Mullen

Speaking of Raiders gone, Vegas shipped out starting corner Trayvon Mullen. The move wasn’t surprising given he needed a new contract soon. Mullen was by far the best corner in years but he battled injuries. The new regime already traded for Rock Ya-Sin and signed Anthony Averett. Mullen was a luxury. In Arizona, he is already expected to miss some time.

The biggest issue with Mullen gettjng traded is the value. There were rumors he could have netted a mid-round pick at the draft. Jaelon Raegor was traded for a higher draft pick despite far less NFL success.

Either way, Mullen’s time with the Raiders was one of the few highlights from the Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock era. Wish him the best and hope he gets healthy.

The Preseason taught us…

The biggest consistent lesson this postseason taught us is that the Raiders finally have some depth and swagger to them. Many key players sat out this preseason but other players stepped up on both sides.

There were many times the Raiders were overmatched with backups versus more experienced players this preseason. The young guys did not back down. They got to the football and made plays.

It makes you confident in the leadeeship and direction of the football team. Like they say you are only as good as your weakest links and the Raiders found some young players who helped them make some tough decisions. That said the team roster looks a lot younger than I would have expected for a playoff contender.

Still, SB Nation put out a poll that said something like more than 90 percent of Raiders fans are confident in the team’s direction. Kudos to this new regime because Raiders fans can hardly agree on anything. Yet, it is exciting to see how hard the roster played throughout the preseason. That sets the foundation for more winning when the games count. They also have the draft picks and cap flexibility to sign a key veteran or make a trade to make their roster even stronger.

Another homecoming

Last year, the Raiders’ Los Angeles homecoming was spoiled by a thundery Monday Night. The game was delayed and Vegas’ offense was sluggish. They fought back from a several-score defeceit in the first half but lost in their SoFidebut. SoFi was clearly dominated by Raiders fans, at least from what I can remember.

Now, it’s a regular 1 pm kickoff. The Raiders should be welcomed to LA by the tail end of our heatwave. However, even the hottest days in Los Angeles peril to a normal summer day in Vegas.

The point is, the Silver and Black must do right by winning in L.A. this time. Remind the city what NFL team won a lombardi for them first.

Not the same Chargers

If you read my writing, often times my keys start upfront. This time it is especially true. We know the chaos Khalil Mack and Joey Bosa each bring individually, well. However, can that mesh together?

There’s no reason to believe Mack and Bosa can’t dominate together, especially with the Raiders inexperience upfront. Overall, this is a very talented Chargers team that nearly beat the Raiders for the final playoff spot.

Los Angeles brings their own question marks upfront, particularly on the ride side of the offensive line. Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones make their debut versus an offensive line that features different starts than last year. Rashawn Slater and Corey Linsley are the only proven commodities. Vegas’ pass rush is critcal to containing an explosive Chargers offense led by QB Justin Herbert.

This Raiders secondary faces a true test out the gate. The Chargers also have their own Pro Bowl runner Austin Ekeler, who is among the most versatile in the game. We know how dynamic receivers Mike Williams and Keenan Allen can be. Both have great catch radius. Williams is the physical and contested receiver to complement One of the best route runners, Keenan Allen. TE Gerald Everett is the x-factor given his athleticism. Everyone has got to be discipline if the Raidees hope to keep up with the Chargers.

Justin Herbert fears no one and this team is looking to redeem itself. Vegas eliminated rhe Chargers from a playoff spot in the final regular season game in 2021.

Raiders keys to beating the Chargers

The Raiders must absolutely rush Justin Herbert. It’s a careful balance from keeping him comfortable but not losing contain. He can scramble and improvise not unlike Pat Mahomes with the Chiefs.

This Chargers offense is too talented. Vegas should be expected to bend but the Raiders will need to find ways to balance that by creating turnovers. The Raiders are playing on the road but a turnover could easily drown out any Chargers excitement early.

Vegas must find their own rythm by establishing the run early and often. That helps neutralizes the pass rush. Plus, the Raiders carry all those backs on their roster for a reason.

Of course, Vegas is also going to have to convert some shots. Getting the run game going creates more play action opportunities. Derek Carr has too many weapons this year to not be a serious contender for MVP. We know he loves Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow in crucial scenarios. Now, he adds Devante Adams who blends what both of those guys do well.

If the Raiders can execute on the fundamentals, they can walk away with a signature division win. They can keep that rolling into the home opener versus the Cardinals. Vegas plays another playoff contender in the Tennessee Titans after Arizona.

A win in Week One prevents what could be a tough start to the Josh McDaniels era. It builds needed momentum for a team that plays in a strong division.

That’s why all eyes will be on the Raiders in Week One. How do they build off last year’s success with new leadership? Will this offense get led by the running game or the dynamic pass catchers? What is the 2022 Raiders’ identity.

All this and more on this week’s NFL Week One! Just win baby!

Is everything alright?

The Las Vegas Raiders made headlines as the first team to open camp. And there were no holdouts. Now, it’s zero week in the preseason and the Raiders will look to showcase young talent versus the Jaguars.

Ghosts of seasons past make us feel hesitant go get our hopes up. However, this is the highest expectations the Silver and Black has earned in a minute.

Don’t expect them to win tonight’s game. Josh McDaniels is from the Bill Belichick coaching tree which means he could care less about exhibitions.

Improved Roster

Regardless, this is the first year in recent memory, you can look across the roster and not find a glaring need. At the very least, there appears to be a plan in place for each player slated to make the 53-man roster.

From top to bottom, there is not a player that jumps out as not being ready to contribute in some way. Even on the two playoff teams we have seen in the last decade, there were tragic needs overlooked and underperforming picks on scholarship. This is a credit to the front office overhaul, bringing in Josh McDaniels and GM Dave Ziegler from the New England Patriots.

Don’t forget the front office overhaul also includes the appointment of the first ever Black Woman team president in NFL history. Sandra Douglass Morgan is a staple in Vegas Sports and is saying all the right things. I can’t wait to see what the on-field product looks like with front office operations finally moving into this decade.

Some credit also goes to Derek Carr. The Raiders elected for consistency at the quarterback by keeping Carr this offseason. This roster showed their support for the quarterback through offseason workouts and showing up for camp on time and ready to go.

Great Power and Great Responsibility

All the national media is finally noticing the Raiders again. That’s great for Raiders fans finally hearing talk on their favorite national programming.

However, the team has to deliver. They will not get overlooked. Teams will take them seriously.

Still, increased expecations are not surprising since the Raiders got better after coming a few plays short of beating the AFC Championships in the Wild Card game. The Raiders have two elite pass rushers, a solid backfield, plenty of starting experience on both sides of the line of scrimmage and athletic veterans across the skill positions. We have not seen this much hype since the year after Carr’s leg injury or Gruden’s second season. Neither times resulted the way fans hope but this is a different team and regime.

Missing Johnathan Hankins, Denzelle Good and others early in camp hurt. However, that’s more reps for younger players like Malcolm Butler, Johnathan Simpson and rookie guard Dylan Parnham. Cotton Lester has been one surprising team gettkng first team reps. That could be a blessing in disguise, whether or not they get the vets back.

The Big Bad West

Of course, the Raiders’ biggest challenge will come from the AFC West. The Raiders can answer those questions right away with an opening game at the Chargers aka another home game. They will face a familiar for with Khalil Mack now with the Bolts. The last time the Raiders saw Mack he literally beat them and put the Bears on his back.

The Broncos are going through their own renaissance by acquieing Russell Wilson and changing ownership. Kansas City won the division the last seven years. They appear ready for a stepback but you can’t discount them as long as they have QB Patrick Mahomes and HC Andy Reid.

Don’t Outrun the Marathon

If the Raiders can stay healthy and come out the West with a winning record, there is no reason Vegas can’t make a serious run. This does not depend on development or fools gold. Granted, depth and young players competing never hurt a contender.

Yes, the Raiders will still need serious development from John Abrams, Trayvon Mullen, Alex Leatherwood and Clelin Ferrell. However, they will all compete for more limited roles on a much better and well constructed roster.

Carr, Josh Jacobs, Darren Waller, Kolton Miller and Hunter Renfrow are proven assests. Sprinkle in the best receiver in the game, Davontae Adams. Plus, all that chemistry reuniting Adams and Carr. It is no secret why this team is again becoming everyone’s favorite dark horse.

On Defense, the Raiders add Chandler Jones, Jayvon Brown and Duron Harmon to better compliment the scheme. They added Rock Ya-Sin and Anthony Averrett to compete with starters like Nate Hobbs and Trayvon Mullen. That’s as close to an A as you can get in the offseason.

Champions Aren’t Made in The Offseason

The Rams proved you can win championships taking risks on trades and free agency acquisitions. Of course, that means getting the right mix of veteran leadership and competing young players across the board.

Vegas made some moves that have many people crowning them the winners of the offseason. Not only did the Raiders attack the offseason ready to build on playoff success, but they executed and made it happen.

Sure, you can nitpick and say the Raiders could afford some help on o-line, d-line or receiver. These are the spots to watch during the preseason.

Either way, there are guys out there who can help at that position. However, that kind of feels like a luxury.

Not to mention, the Raiders have the bulk of their draft picks and cap space to leverage for another Superstar acquisition. This is why you have seen them connected to safety Jessie Bates III. Maybe the Raiders get greedy and add one of those receivers dealing with contract issues. Who knows?

The Future is Limitless

Again, credit the organization for putting together a competitve roster without leveraging the future. Add in the fact the Raiders hired a well qualified Black woman as their new President. When was the last time things felt this well and under control?

Onward and upward from past blunders on and off the field. Vegas must be ready to deliver. Carr has no excuses left with the best receiver in the game. The defense can’t go weeks without sacks with those edges. However, this is a totally different conversation than previous offseasons.

For the first time in a while, the Raiders Nation has real reason for excitement. We are not reaching when talking about the postseason. It’s a new feeling for Raiders fans who watched the team struggle for most of the two decades. All the momentum to that point starts today. Just Win Baby!

Raiders fans waited for this moment for 20 years

Finally, the Raiders made the playoffs. No hurt quarterback asterisk on this playoff berth. No second-half season collapse derailing a winning season.

Vegas finished the season with an OT win over the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders’ biggest win in 20 years almost resulted in a tie. That would’ve let the Chargers in the playoffs instead of the Steelers so I am not sure many would have complained. Still, forget your timeout theories. It is just win baby, not just tie maybe.

The biggest difference maker in that win included the Raiders pass rush and run game. Chargers QB Justin Herbert nearly erased all that with his straight up skills. This week the Raiders draw an equally young and poised quarterback in Joe Burrow.

Looking For Revenge

Last time these teams faced, the Bengals clapped the Raiders in Vegas. The Silver and Black will travel to Cincinnati for this round. Honestly, I am not sure the Raiders could have gotten a worse opponent.

Joe Mixon is a big and physical runner who can break one on any play. He carved us up for over 100 rushing yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals pulled away late thanks to the toll Mixon makes defenses pay.

Burrow completed 20/29 passes in the regular season game. Cincinatti brings size and speed on the outside. This could cause matchup problems as the Raiders secondary been banged up all year.

The Bengals defense is a sleeper. Eli Apple got a pick last time these teams played. They also threw in a couple sacks while a defeceit voided the Raiders run game.

Nonetheless, the Bengals are beatable. They lost to the Chargers and got swept by the Browns. Cincinatti barely beat the Jaguars and lost to the Jets and Bears early too. Their key victories include wins over the Chiefs, Broncos, Steelers and Vikings. They narrowly lost to the 49ers and Packers for what it is worth.

Which Squads Shows Up?

All that doesn’t really matter entering the playoffs. It’s win or go home and the Raiders have had just as many peaks and valleys as the team in stripes. Vegas is going to need a spectacular outing from their entire defensive line. Burrow is among the best versus the blitz so the entire defense must stay discipline. The Raiders registered three sacks along the line in the November game. Let’s double up this time.

One of the reasons the Raiders won 5-of-7 down the stretch is Josh Jacobs’ resurgance. His 132 rushing yards last week versus the Chargers helped them control that game. He also rushed for over 100 versus Denver but the Raiders have found ways to win even when Jacobs is ineffective.

Derek Carr has been mostly up this season. He is top-6 in passing yards and top-12 in passing touchdowns. Carr is also top ten for interceptions. Burrow is right behind him for yards and picks.

Versus Los Angeles, Carr did not have a crazy stat line. However, he didn’t throw any interceptions and scored two touchdowns. That’s exactly the Carr the Raiders need on Saturday. Take calculated risks. Move the chains and score touchdowns. Don’t make mistakes. He threw an interception versus the Bengals but was otherwise efficient.

Hopefully, Darren Waller is available. Waller’s last 100 yard receiving game versus the Bengals. They are a different team when they have Waller stretching the middle of the field. With Foster Moreau, tight end is probably the Raiders’ biggest mismatch over any team left in the bracket. The Raiders got to enable those guys to perform.

Hunter Renfrow must come up big despite everybody keying in on him. Bryan Edwards and Zay Jones must keep up their performances on key downs. We all know the chemistry they have with Derek Carr. That has been on display the past few weeks but it was absent when the Bengals came to town a few weeks ago. Desean Jackson will need to make a big play. He still has one in him.

No drops, fumbles or illegal formations from this entire receiving group. Win those matchups versus Trae Waynes and Eli Apple please. Take shots and try to get calls on them downfield too.

None of that will matter if the offensive line doesn’t step up. Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson both tore up the Raiders tackles last time these teams faced off. The Raiders offensive line is playing better now.

Cincinatti is also beefy on the inside with defensive tackles DJ Reader and Larry Ogunjobi. They are stout against the run across the front four so the Raiders and Jacobs will need to earn every yard.

On the other side, Vegas needs their defensive line to come up big. The starters got to stay fresh even if the Bengals move to a no huddle. Reserves Clelin Ferrell, Solomon Thomas and Carl Nassib will have added responsibilities with Darius Philon sidelined. One of them needs to step up and get a sack. Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue are the primary rushers but they run out of gas. They apply pressure but don’t always get home. Added help from the supporting cast makes their job easier and converts those pressures into lost yards.

Johnathan Hankins and Quinton Jefferson will need to help out versus the run but they also can’t be liabilities in the pass rush on long drives. This will help out all other positions on defense.

Versus the run, Denzel Perryman, Corey Littleton and K.J. Wright must step up. These veterans have playoff experience neither homegrown Raiders or Bengals players can relate to. We can’t afford to have any of them exposed. Divine Deablo saw a lot of time down the stretch due to his athleticism. One of those guys needs to make a play.

Our secondary continues scraping by without key players like Trayvon Mullen and Johnathan Abram. Brandon Facyson and Desmond Trufant were damn near out the league. No mistakes from Dallin Leavitt or Roderic Teamer please. Both played better than expected last week but they are flawed. Nate Hobbs, Trevon Moehrig and Casey Hayward all been bright spot offseason additions for the secondary. One of them needs to make a play this week as I expect them to bend and take lumps versus the speed and size of the Bengals receiving corps. If this group can create a turnover, the Raiders have a chance. The defensive line can help by getting home without relying on help from the blitz.

Complimentary Football

In the end, the Raiders need their entire team to play their best game versus the Bengals. It’s hard to imagine them winning if they don’t come out with the same desperation and sense of urgency we saw them with in the last quarter of the season. Let’s see some Mariota again this week.

Part of me worries they will run out of gas and get merked by a team they don’t matchup well with. Yet, that is why you got veterans like Hayward, Facyson, Perryman, Jackson, Wright and Littleton. Leadership will show versus a Bengals team that is equally inexperienced in the postseason.

Otherwise, the Raiders got to stick to their identity. Run the ball, take smart shots, get after the quarterback and create some turnovers. Derek Carr has been waiting for this moment for 8 seasons. He must earn that Mamba sleeve with a clutch performance in the postseason. His stats are great and probably earned him a year or two more at the helm but it does not matter if he can not help this team get over the hump in big games. This franchise goes as far their quarterback. Winning a championship in the Silver and Black starts by proving you can win a road playoff game.

Same thing with Josh Jacobs. He is banged up and off his most inconsistent season. However, the Raiders need him to control the clock and keep the Bengals off the field. When Jacobs is effective, the play action sets up much better for Carr and company. They also need Jacobs to break a big run off and ware the defense down. This offense is missing that spark from Kenyan Drake. Maybe they can get another big run from Jalen Richard. Either way, Jacobs must show he is elite by pulling away from the defense on the biggest stage. That’s especially true if he gets going early. Jacobs got to show he can wear a team down and finish them late.

The Raiders defense was up and down all year but they got to continue to find ways to make plays and get stops. They offer a good mix of veteran and young players at each level. Somebody got to step up and make a play. It won’t surprise me if it is somebody you least expect.

Great defenses play together and don’t rely on any one player to make every play. That won’t cop Maxx or Yannick out. Big time players make big time plays in big time games, Madden would say. We need big plays from our two best defensive players to drive the defense. Ultimately, we will need a great team effort on defense to handle the Bengals explosiveness on the road. Limit the big plays, penalties and mistakes. Don’t get rattled or fall apart now.

If the Raiders can make enough plays on both sides of the ball, they can win this game. Either way, let’s just hope they come out swinging. That’s what Big Red and Coach Flores would want. Afterall, this is the first playoff game in damn near twenty years.

Before that crushing Super Bowl loss to Gruden, the Raiders were among the league’s most winning franchise. The Raiders got to represent because I know the Nation will. Vegas must remind the league what they’ve been missing without their most prolific team playing in January. Just win baby!

Is it really different this time?

Raiders Vs Chargers, RIP Madden and More

That’s the question Raiders fans ask themselves as they prepare for a division showdown versus the Chargers this week. This particular Chargers-Raiders installment will determine one of the final AFC Wild Card spots.

Technically, both teams can get in with a tie or with help from the Steelers and Colts. That would ruin the NFL’s climatic finish to their first 17-game season and three-team Wild Card playoff format.

Raiders fans watched their team collapse into mediocrity in the second half of the last few seasons. We lied to ourselves with playoff scenarios that required us winning out or getting some help.

This year the Raiders have a chance to win to get in the playoffs in the final week. The last few games have been must wins and they actually found ways to pull it out. That’s on top of all the crazy off-field controversies this team pushed through all season. Will the Just Win mentality continue versus the Chargers?

Either way, this is a game between teams that know each other well. Both teams love to get their respective fan bases’ hopes up before deflating them in an epically tragic way. Well, one team has to win to get in.

Last Time on Chargers VS Raiders

The last time the Raiders and Chargers played, Vegas came out flat. They almost came back but fell short. However, that was a head coach and receiver ago.

Los Angeles rode out of that win on a massive high. They looked like contenders. That tapered off thanks to some losses and injuries.

Yet, L.A. still holds enough talent to be taken serious. Herbert is a serious alpha at QB, despite his calm exterior. This could be his chance to take the reigns of the AFC West’s No. 1 contention spot. Kansas City won another division spot. It really wasn’t that close even with them starting slow and everyone else starting hot.

All the Stakes

For the Raiders, it’s hard to deny Derek Carr or Rich Bissaccia a re-up if they sneak into the playoffs for only the second time in twenty years. Even if the Raiders could make some noise in the playoffs, they still need more playmakers before they’re a perennial contender. A rebuild with a new coach and quaterback might be the inevitible regardless how this season turns out but a playoff berth and win kicks that can down the road a bit. Otherwise, it’s hard to be optimistic about this team if they’re swept by both K.C. and L.A. this year.

Thus, there is a lot at stake on Sunday night. Don’t forget that shit Joey Bosa was talking after the Bolts defeated the Raiders on Monday night. He shared the blue print for beating Las Vegas by saying Carr cracks under pressure.

Regardless, the Raiders are a different team. The past few weeks, the Raiders are finally playing desperate. We are seeing the Mariota package along with Carr’s raport with Zay Jones and Hunter Renfrow. The defense is competent even if they bend a ton and get caught slipping.

Win it for Madden

Not to mention, can we lose the same season John Madden died?

Madden is a true Raiders icon. You know the anecdotes about the chairs. You know his reputation as a broadcaster and player coach. You know the Super Bowl win, Playoff appearances and winning record. There was only one Madden and nobody else in this metaverse could have dealt with all those bad ass personalities and a maverick owner like Al Davis.

Davis took a chance on a young coach. He knew his players needed to maintain a certain edge and lifestyle. He believed in veterans and cast offs. He let his players win. Madden embodied the commitment to excellence and he just won baby! Go look up the stories.

The Bigger Picture

Still, do either of these teams have real hopes to beat the Chiefs in a playoff game? Will they make any noise in the playoffs? More than likely, not. However, it would be a win for both first time head coaches and hungry fan bases.

Speaking of which, I went to the Chargers and Broncos game at SoFi this past weekend. Lots of Bolts fans were saying they were gonna take over Allegiant the same way Raiders fans took over SoFi on Monday Night. Multiple sites have said it will be majority Californians and Raiders fans in attendance.

People forget the Raiders are still the only NFL champs to call L.A. home. Madden also won a ring with the Oakland Raiders. Plus, the ties to West Coast hip hop make the Raiders L.A.’s prodical son that got away.

More than bragging rights, these teams will be lobbying for a lot of the same fair weather fans when they face each other again on National TV. Both teams will want one more shot at the Chiefs deep in the playoffs.

Who will Win?

Ultimately, this game will probably come down to the final possession. Special teams will be important as this matchup often comes down to field goals and field position.

Both teams will need to create turnovers. Each squad should make sacking the quarterback a priority. Therefore, both offensive lines will get tested. The Chargers recently got their center Corey Linsley back which will helps them.

Either team could strike with a big play given how both defenses. Raiders have allowed the tenth least passing yards and the Chargers gaveup the 13th least. Their rankings are similar for passing touchdowns.

L.A. allowed the third most rushing yards while the Raideds are more in the middle of the pack. It is pretty much the same with rushing TDs. Meaning, the running back matchup will be key. Austin Ekeler and Josh Jacobs are both versatile runners and border line Pro Bowlers. It looks like Jacobs is finally healthy and his offensive line is rolling. Ekeler is critical to the Chargers red zone efforts and he is a game breaking pass catcher. We know that,

Vegas is also looking forward to getting Darren Waller back. The league’s premier tight end has been questionable during this winning stretch. They will need his size and speed to run off those safeties and fast linebackers.

If the Raiders come out aggressive and stick to their gameplan this game is theirs to lose. They matchup well versus the Chargers if they can protect Carr enough to stretch the field for Jacobs and the running game. At some point, it is going to come down to which team is more physical, holds the most will and stays healthy the longest. The Raiders should hold the edge given the playoff draught, lofty expectations and the fact they have been playing for their lives for weeks now.

Regardless, I hope the team comes out taking chances like they have the past few weeks. Win lose or tie I want my team to play with pride. Field a gameplan that will make Madden and Davis smile from the heavens.

Worse case scenario, the Raiders come out flat at home and it turns ugly for everyone. Running out of gas wouldn’t be surprising given all that this team has gone through. However, you never want to let the Chargers sweep you or end your season.

Beating the Chargers will come down to Raiders football. Take the deep shots. Run the ball. Control the clock. Make them throw. Bring the quarterback down. Force a turnover. Just win. Playoffs baby!

TOO MUCH BYE BLUES FOR MORE BAD NEWS

This is not the badass Raiders your Dad and Grandpa watched. You can’t as easily sneak out of a motel after curfew for a few extra broads and brewskis before a big game. Police don’t just escort people home after drinking and driving anymore.

The Henry Ruggs tragedy is a reminder that times are different. Forty times won’t keep you in Silver and Black.

Drinking and driving kills. It only takes one time.

There’s no doubt it is 100 percent preventable, especially when you’re a professional athlete. You add all the other details and you wonder how can Ruggs not serve time? You’ve read about the high speeds, gun and BAC. You’ve seen those videos.

It’s still crushing to watch a 22-year-old fuck up his life. Ruggs went from playing the best football of his life to looking like he may never play again. Plus, all the guilt he feels from taking a life and letting down people relying on him. This is probably the craziest situation I’ve seen in terms of a professional athlete.

I don’t blame Derek Carr, Rich Bisaccia or Mark Davis for saying they love the person and stand by him. I can’t blame them for releasing Ruggs. Same goes for fans who want to see him punished and those who feel for him. It’s a rough situation but I life was lost from a preventable accident that happens far too often. Whatever happened in that car doesn’t change the fact that Ruggs is ultimately responsible.

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More Rain

The bye week got worse when news dropped that Damon Arnette was facing a lawsuit for a hit and run acr accident en route to a meeting last year. News broke about separate incidents with a valet and instagram live. People must be held accountable. You can’t play with guns like the ’70s anymore.

This is a lot for a fanbase that just accepted a move. You add that to the Raiders track record of losing. Don’t forget we just got embarrassed by Gruden’s dated and misogynistic locker room talk. One email can mess up your entire wikipedia. A mediocre second tenure didnt help.

Football is changing. You can’t do whatever you want anymore. You can’t say whatever. It’s a new time and the Raiders are in a new state.

AND the Raiders are not winning. It’s been almost twenty years since we won a playoff game. Being a renegade is only fun when you win.

The quest for a new home and stadium finally ended. Now, it deserves a playoff squad. There is also an addition playoff team and regular-season game this year.

Moving Past the Past

We saw the Raiders collapse in the second half of the season under Gruden. They started good but flamed out at the end. They missed the playoffs narrowly. Their struggles after the bye week are well documented under Gruden. We’ve also been bad traveling east for a minute.

That said, I feel great about Bisaccia. The team went into the bye week looking good. They got some rest. Then all these distractions happened.

We went from talking about the extra element Ruggs gave the offense to discussing Desean Jackson or Odell Becham Jr. Vegas zoomed with Jackson but they aren’t expected to add receiver this week.

Still, Bisaccia steady the ship. He was empathetic, commanding and honest with the media. It seems like the team is rallying around him and a more established Derek Carr.

This Carr isn’t the same 2016 MVP candidate. This Carr has to play like he is battling for his job. This Carr has been through two mediocre seasons. He lost his head coach and best receiver. Carr and Bisaccia give the team a fighting chance through adversity.

Receiving Options

Otherwise, Las Vegas promoted receivers Dillon Stoner and Marcell Ateman. Zay Jones is the veteran who really needs to step up into a starter role. Jones holds great chemistry with Carr as they always practice together in the offseason. More pressure falls on Bryan Edwards and Hunter Renfrow without Ruggs’ speed stretching the field every single play.

If OBJ is free, you sign him based on his age and upside. The shoulder injuries worry me but his lower body seems recovered from previous injuries. However, I’ve always wanted to see Jackson as a Raider. He is healthy and still brings speed. Jackson doesn’t have the same ability as Odell but he would fill Ruggs’ shoes better.

The Raiders could honestly use both if they’re serious about boosting the offense for a playoff push. They need Jackson at least. I’m also curious why they didn’t bring back John Brown since they also signed him for his speed.

We can’t forget the team stayed quiet at the deadline. I can’t blame them given everything with the team. They also believe in Zay Jones and their practice squad guys. Let’s see if they can get better in free agency or internally. They have done both this season already.

New York, New York

The Giants aren’t a great team but they do get teams to play down to their level. New York is 2-6 but they lost three games by one score or less. Saquon Barkley is ruled out but the Raiders know Davontae Booker can pop off. Receiver Kenny Galloday is questionable which means the Raiders secondary should dominate. Nate Hobbs and Casey Hayward are among the best rated at their positions.

Few teams need receivers like the Giants. Look at their injury report. However, the Raiders are still bad at covering tight ends. New Yorks’s Evan Engram is athletic and could torch the Raiders under the right circumstances. Engram was on the trade block too.

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I wouldn’t go as far to call it a trap game but the Giants do have enough to beat the Raiders. Leonard Williams and Dexter Jackson could give the Raiders run game some trouble. They can also be effective against the pass with James Bradburry and Adoree Jackson as a balanced corner duo. Our o-line looked improved a few weeks ago but they must maintain that growth on the road after a week off. The receivers must also step up without Ruggs taking the top off the defense.

Either way, the Raiders have a chance as long as their defensive line pressures Daniel Jones. The Raiders’ defensive line depth is their greatest asset. They face a Giants line with three players in the bottom ten at their position, per PFF. Everybody is healthy and rested again this week. The Raiders should have a full rotation.

Carr has to keep playing efficient football. The challenge will be finding ways to make big plays and strikes without Ruggs. Carr is going to need someone else to step up as his ex-factor. Look for more Foster Moreau, Kenyan Drake and Alec Ingold. Carr should spread the ball around a lot this game. He must rely on finding mismatches more without Ruggs beating his defender every play.

TMC

The point is, the Raiders know what they need to do. They must build their identity around their defensive line. Their secondary must continue making plays. Don’t screw up by giving up big chunks on penalties or blown assignments.

The offense must continue running through Carr and a strong run game. Vegas has a cast of characters who can help Carr drive the ball downfield. He can’t press too much. Lean on Josh Jacobs and Darren Waller. Find Hunter Renfrow on third down. Carr must develop trust with new players since Ruggs is gone.

Bisaccia should continue leading with poise and confidence. He should keep relying on his coaches as well as letting his players play.

Vegas plays the Chiefs in a game that will have meaning in a heated AFC West race. You can’t overlook the Giants but you want to be healthy and rolling into that game confident. Once again, let’ put a win between us and all this off-field mess.

RIP Tina Tintor and her puppers Max

Hello Victory Our Old Friend

Right before our season completely bottomed out, the Raiders ended their two-game skid by whooping the Broncos for their first division win. Coach Bisaccia became the first coach to win his debut since Hue Jackson.

Lessons From The Donkies

We got glimpses of the Ruggs and Carr combo we all dreamed about. Kenyan Drake and Josh Jacobs finally brought the 1-2 punch finally. Jacobs mixed physical running with Drake’s explosive play making.

Jacobs said the sideline had a much more professional feel minus Gruden yelling at all the players and coaches. It felt that way as the Raiders made noticeable adjustments. They never felt complacent or panicked which is how playoff teams play versus lesser division teams.

The Defense made big plays when needed. Solomon Thomas forced a crucial strip. Shout out to him for donating 8k per sack this year. Our defensive backs got back into the interception column too.

Well the Raiders sat in the driver seat by scoring on their first drive, Raiders PTSD made it feel like the game could turn at any moment. Las Vegas never really put Denver away even after the turnovers. 

Still, that is really nitpicking a road team playing a talented and banged up rival on the road. The Raiders found a way to win and that is all that matters baby. 

Deeper Meeting

Moreover, Fuck power rankings. Who cares if we fell in some made up rankings after staying in the West’s second spot? Our team showed the grit and confidence needed for a playoff push. Whether or not they get there will depend on many things including the offensive line. Rodney Hudson and Lincoln Kennedy ain’t walkin thru that door. 

At the very least, this team isn’t going to be packing it in even if they have all the reason to. Carr said he didn’t think the team could get any closer but that is exactly what happened after the Gruden of situation.

Gruden-Gate

Speaking of Gruden-gate, we heard from many Raiders and league stakeholders pushing for more emails from the WFT. Gruden is reportedly fumed that he got fired from an investigation he had nothing to do with. No shit. Mark Davis also said it was an intentional hit by the league. Probably.

The Raiders would still be controlled by some dated mediocre coach with misogynistic and racist thoughts if it weren’t for the emails. It’s also documented how the Raiders went from one of the most Black teams in the league before Gruden. The percentage instantly dropped when Gruden came to the field.  

Who cares though? The Raiders are off a great win and headed into another winnable match versus the Philadelphia Eagles. No pitty parties for coaches out the club.

Taking On Philly This Week

Some say this week’s matchup sets up a let down. The Eagles have a mobile quarterback along with an explosive tight end. Jalen Hurts is leading the team in both rushing and passing. Dallas Goedert is officially TE No. 1 with Zach Ertz shipped out. Myles Sanders can make plays. 

On defense, they have pass rushers blended with experience on all levels. Philadelphia top 10 in interceptions and passing yards allowed. However, they are in the bottom 10 for rushing yards allowed and passing touchdowns given up. That sets the Raiders up for perfect success since they want to run the ball to setup big pass plays downfield.

Keys to Beating the Eagles

Philly is ranked in the top-10 for yards per first down but they rank in the bottom over the last two games. The Eagles rely on creating manageable third downs for young quarterback Jalen Hurts. They are in the bottom ten for most passing yards in the NFL this year. If the Raiders can stop Myles Sanders from controlling the down and distance, they should be able to get after Hurts on passing downs. Hurts can also kill Vegas with his legs so the pass rushers must stay discipline on fakes and keep contain when getting up field. Getting Quinton Jefferson back should also help pressure Hurts and stop the run. Jefferson’s get-off is missed as he disrupts both the run and pass. It would also be great if the Raiders can force an interception again like last week.

Offensively, the Raiders must exert their will again. Vegas needs another fast start like last week. Forget the last time they looked lethargic at home versus the Bears as all the Gruden stuff loomed in the shadows. Let’s put that behind us by starting fast and getting all the weapons involved. This team is hard to beat when Ruggs is getting targets downfield and Bryan Edwards is making catches in the deeper intermediate route. Carr can find Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow anytime because of their chemistry. However, Ruggs and Edwards give them the big play threat that makes it hard to lock in on Carr’s favorite targets.

Bottom Line

Overall, it won’t matter what the offense wants to do if they can’t get blocking up front. The O-line played better versus the Broncos but they could only go up from where they played versus the Bears. Hopefully, this group can continue improving as they get more reps together. They’ll face real tests with Fletcher Cox and company in town. Philadelphia leaves much to be desired versus the run so this is a chance for the young offensive line to gain some confidence running the ball.

Vegas played with a chip on their shoulder for the first time in a bit. They looked mad and angry. However, they kept it balanced by rolling through the good and the bad. Our Raiders looked like they had been there before even when it seemed like they were going to let Denver back into the game. If the Raiders can maintain the physicality and the professional focus forward, there is no reason why they can not make the playoffs. That starts with handling business versus a beatable Philly team.

Otherwise, a loss won’t be the end of the world headed into a bye week. The Bye Week is the breathe of fresh air we all need. Yet, sitting at 5-2 in first place is much better than tied for second at 4-3. Hopefully, the game won’t be too crazy with Philly fans, although they travel well and Vegas is a transit town.

Either way, the Raiders got to find a way to put good to solid teams away if they really want to legitimize themselves as contenders. For now, I think we’ll all just take 2-0 in the post-Gruden era.

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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