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.