After a nail biting Week One win against the Carolina Panthers, the Raiders proved that they could easily be a force to be reckoned with. Now having the ability to spread the offense out with new rookie wideouts Henry Ruggs and Bryan Edwards along with some veteran faces in Nelson Agholor and Zay Jones, you can definitely expect to see Quarterback Derek Carr start to get more and more comfortable with Head Coach Jon Gruden and Offensive Coordinator Greg Olson.
This should open up the offense with a lot more deep passing plays like we saw with the 45 yard bomb to Ruggs that set up a one yard touchdown by second year running back Josh Jacobs and the 23 yard touchdown pass to Agholor. Lets not forget the slot machine himself, Hunter Renfrow who is a key player on third down plays. When it’s third down, expect to see Carr look to number 13.
Now with that being said, I don’t think that they will stray from the run game at all. The Raiders have a very solid running back room with stud second year running back Josh Jacobs, Jalen Richard, and Devonte Booker. Jacobs finished with 25 carries, 93 yards, and three touchdowns against the Panthers. He looked like he somehow became more powerful and looked extremely solid.
Someone else that looked very solid was Devonte Booker who had four carries and 29 rushing yards. The Raiders were looking to add a solid power back that could help lighten the load on Jacobs and they definitely found that when they signed Booker this past offseason.
Then we have a guy that does not get enough credit and that is Jalen Richard. He has shown some flashes of his talent in the past but he is mainly a receiving back in this new look offense for the Raiders. While Richard only had one reception for 15 yards, expect him to have a major impact in the offense this year.
Now for the defense. Raider Nation has had it rough when it came to the defensive side of the ball, especially in the secondary. In the past the Raiders defense has been in the bottom of the league and that was something General Manager Mike Mayock and Coach Gruden knew they had to fix this offseason.
The Linebacking core has some fresh new faces with a complete overhaul at the position with the addition of Nick Kwiatkoski, Corey Littleton, and Raekwon McMillan. This was an issue that needed to be fixed and it was fixed in a huge way.
Littleton racked up six total tackles and three solo tackles and was a huge threat in the middle of the field, as he was the team’s third best defensive player. Kwiatkoski racked up six total tackles and four solo tackles and was the team’s second best defensive player. Kwiatkowki was injured during the second half of the game but will not miss too much time if any, and his stats would have been higher if he had played the full game.
Like I said earlier, the Raiders’ secondary has been rough the past few years and with the key players in Trayvon Mullen, Damon Arnette, Lamarcus Joyner, and Amik Robertson in the cornerback position, it is safe to say that they have some absolute dogs in that part of the field.
Mullen led that position with six total tackles, three solo tackles, and one pass deflection. Arnette was not far behind with five total tackles, three solo tackles and one pass deflection. Joyner ended his day with four total tackles, three solo tackles, and one pass deflection. While that does not seem like a whole lot, those are actually pretty decent numbers.
Now someone that is going to be a force in games to come is the man that led the Raiders defense with 13 total tackles, nine solo tackles, and one tackle for loss, and that is second year Safety Johnathan Abram. Abram missed the the 2019-2020 season after only playing one game with a torn rotator cuff that required surgery. He is hungry and is out to make any Quarterback’s day a living nightmare. If he keeps up this production, he will be a top three safety in the NFL.
Another guy to look out for is Philip Rivers’ favorite target, Erik Harris. Harris recorded five total tackles, two solo tackles, and three assists in the win. Last year Harris recorded 74 total tackles, 64 solo tackles, 10 assists, and three interceptions. Look for Harris to show up more this year in this new look Raiders defense.
Something that was not a huge issue last year was the defensive line. The Raiders hired arguably the best defensive line coach in the NFL Rod Marinelli. With Marinelli came Defensive Tackle Maliek Collins. Collins has stepped up and shown himself to be a leader in the locker room with his Team Captain nomination and will no doubt help bring pressure to any opposing Quarterbacks. Second year Defensive End Maxx Crosby, who is coming off a double digit sack season, will definitely help out this Raiders defense.
With all this being said, it’s time to start expecting big things from the Las Vegas Raiders in their inaugural season in the NFL. The offense will be as explosive as ever with a balanced offensive approach but will still try to keep to that west coast offense that Jon Gruden loves so much. The defense will be much more aggressive when it comes to pass coverage and line work.
As I have been saying for months now, expect the Las Vegas Raiders to finish the year off as a very solid team that will make the postseason for the first time in Las Vegas history. Raider Nation has been waiting for January Raiders football since 2016 and this year they will finally see it for the first time since 2016.