The Raiders need a win. That outing versus the Saints doesn’t merit two articles. That’s a game you watch once and move on from. Vegas showed up for a shootout but got shutout.
What we learned from the trenches versus New Orleans
Offensively, the Raiders started the same offensive line for a third time. We saw the o-line play well versus a contending Chiefs team that’s a bit light upfront. They looked solid against a competitive but not great front in Houston. This week they got dominated.
Dylan Parham continued showing some of the same issues in pass blocking as far as staying square, bent and keeping his head up. Andre James had his worst game yet, with some of the same issues. Ale Bars wasn’t great either. Collectively, the group gave up three sacks. A couple of those started with inside pressure. However, Edges Cam Jordan and Marcus Davenport also brought the length and speed that gave the Raiders tackles some problems.
You saw that with how Derek Carr barely threw for 100 yards, along with an interception and no touchdowns. Josh Jacobs averaged 4.3 yards per carry on only 10 carries. They had to get away from the run game as the score got out of hand.
On defense, it was much of the same as all season. They made some plays but Crosby needs help. Nobody got a sack but a lot of that credit goes to Saints QB Andy Dalton for getting the ball out quick.
Andrew Billings can only do so much. He got upfield and disrupted the interior blocks but the Raiders needed more versus an Alvin Kamara and Taysum Hill rushing attack.
Vegas honestly missed Johnathan Hankins eating up two blockers. Even if he doesn’t push the pocket or play in the backfield much anymore, his size and length allowed him to anchor against double teams and stalemate blockers. The Raiders linebackers missed that.
Chandler Jones looked better but he had the easiest matchup of all the defensive line. The Saints feature a solid offensive line top to bottom and the Raiders looked over matched despite a few plays here and there. Neil Farrall had some moments where he got upfield but there were other times he got ate up by the double-team.
Clelin Ferrell had his worst game as a pass rusher. Bilal Nichols got pushed around as a run defender. I have not seen Kendal Vickers do much. They need help inside besides Billings. They are last in sacks for a reason.
I’ll admit I sped through most of last week’s tape. I watched it live any ways.
Trade deadline breakdown
If you had Daniel Carlson in any of your fantasy leagues, you probably were sad too as he’s the Raiders most consistent scorer. The only thing more disappointing was the trade deadline.
Vegas did nothing. It was reported they made calls but they had nothing great to sell. They have not shown enough to leverage the future. Nothing to buy or sell multiple outlets reported.
It would have been great to see the Raiders make some additions and roll the dice. They could’ve used a receiver, some offensive line help, a defensive back and a stout pass rusher in the interior. Unfortunately, good players at those positions don’t get free and if they do it costs a lot.
The Raiders chose to develop from within and let the expiring contracts they have free up some cap space in the offseason. We’ll see what happens but this team lacks talent at some key positions. Players need to take a noticeable jump through bonding or grasping the full schemes. Otherwise, we’ll just get more of what we’ve seen the first part of the season.
What is this team?
Perhaps this team peaked too early. Maybe those close loses early were on the other teams. Can the Raiders get better with what’s on the roster?
Maybe that whooping is what the Raiders needed to wake them up. There’s no time to figure out how to win. This team is filled with veterans and young players who have something to prove. They aren’t good enough to say we’ll just stay the course. Forget could’ve, would’ve or should’ve.
Last year, the Raiders stayed the course amid chaos. This is not that team. It might actually be better talent wise but the execution isn’t the same. Mark Davis can say whatever he wants about the Head Coach but it’s the players who will decide. They are all spending time together on the road in Florida as they prepare for Jacksonville. Is it enough for a bounce back road win?
I’m not ready to fully write off Josh McDaniels yet but he has to get out of his own way. Maybe he is not used to forcing the ball to an alpha like Davante Adams but he’s got to get him in the ball. The Raiders also need to rely on Josh Jacobs more early to get them started.
Moving onto the Jaguars
The Jaguars are also looking for a win. They’re young but they’ve invested in free agency and they have young players they are trying to build around with a winning culture. Jacksonville could easily get hot versus the Raiders defense. They are in the second half of the league as far as passing yards and touchdowns.
Can the Raiders play desperate? Will they play like they know they can win? How does this team bounce back from that loss will tell us a lot about what they think about their leaders, including the coach and quarterback. Ownership and the front office too.
The Raiders can stop the bleeding with a win in Jacksonville. Then they head home to play Indianapolis at home. The Colts have their issues which makes that a winnable game. A couple of wins strung together is what the doctor ordered.
We know the Raiders haven’t traveled great in recent years, so a east coast road win helps the team’s confidence too. However, another loss and the season is virtually over. There’s nothing that this team has showed this season that proves they can go on an extended streak. They haven’t even won back-to-back games this year.
What are the Jaguars?
Jacksonville is in the bottom ten for passing defense as far as yards and sacks. They have allowed nine rushing touchdowns which puts them in the bottom ten of the league. They are in the twelfth least rushing yards. All that means the Raiders offensive efforts could go either way.
Tackles Cam Robinson and Jawaan Taylor arerated positively by PFF bu they’re tied for the 44th spot out of 78 tackles. Center Luke Fortner is ranked 30th out of 37 at his position. Guards Ben Bartch, Tyler Shatley and Brandon Scheriff rank from 46-53 out of 81. Again, this could be a winnable matchup for the Raiders or they could get dominated by an under performing but capable group.
The offensive line faces some tough challenges with Travon Walker, Josh Allen and Arden Key. They’re all lengthy, fast and twitchy enough to give the Raiders tackles problems. We saw glimpses of that in the preseason.
Keys to beating the Jaguars
Jacksonville is young and healthy. They lost four straight games by a score or less. A game versus a floundering Raiders team is exactly what they need. The Jaguars could be the definition of mid. They could also be an ascending young team depending on the week and opponent.
Vegas is a team trying to save their season and establish their identity. Davante Adams was added to the injury report for an illness and Carr is apparently battling a back injury. Mack Hollins is on the injury report and we’re waiting for Darren Waller to finally return too. It’s hard to make a prediction because we don’t know what this Raiders team is.
Ultimately, the Raiders need to get the ball to their playmakers. Josh Jacobs is PFF’s top rated back. They need to get him the ball early and often. This allows them to prevent long third downs which hurt Derek Carr and the Raiders limited pass blockers. It also sets up the play action for deep shots down field.
Davante Adams also needs to be a consistent target. Get Adams the ball, whether it’s jet sweeps, deep passes, screens or intermedate routes. Carr also needs to sprinkle in his other weapons. Doesn’t matter if it’s Hunter Renfrow, Foster Moreau, Mack Hollins or Darren Waller. Carr needs to find the mismatch outside of getting the ball to Adams.
Defensively, the Raiders must play discipline. Christian Kirk and Zay Jones can expose the Raiders corners on the outside. Running back Travis Etienne and tight end Evan Engram could give the Raiders linebackers and safeties issues.
The Raiders defensive line needs to stepup and do something. Crosby needs to get home but he needs help from Jones, Ferrell and company. The last thing Vegas wants is Trevor Lawrence standing back without pressure and finding his rhythm.
If the Raiders can play like we think they can, there’s no reason they don’t live Florida with a win. If they play like they did last week, this game could definitely go the other way. Regardless, there’s no room for error. The Raiders need a win and they’ll have to take it from the jaws of a young Jaguars time with the talent to give Vegas problems.
Losing to a younger team that is farther from learning how to win could crush the Raiders. Losing to a team in the rebuilding process with former Raiders like Zay Jones and Arden Key could easily kill the Raiders season. A win keeps the dream and hope alive for a little bit longer. What will the Silver and Black do?