Are the Las Vegas Raiders for Real?
After an upset win, is it time to take Gruden’s team seriously?
Even with the absence of Michael Thomas, many people still believed the New Orleans Saints would be able to secure a victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday. The Raiders must not have gotten the message. Vegas went on to defeat the Saints 34–24 in what was perhaps the upset of the week. The Raiders were led by their key playmakers in the win. Quarterback Derek Carr finished with 284 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions. Running back Josh Jacobs contributed 105 total yards. It however, was tight end Darren Waller who shined the brightest in the win, finishing with 12 catches for 105 yards and a touchdown.
So does the upset over New Orleans mean the Raiders are legit?
I guess that depends on what your definition of legit is. The Raiders are not going to be competing for a Super Bowl this year. They could very well challenge for a playoff spot though. There has been a lot of good for Las Vegas this season. Their offense has looked explosive thus far, as they’re averaging the fourth-most points per game. A big reason for this is due to Josh Jacobs’ stellar play. The second year back is fifth in the NFL in rushing with 181 yards. He is also tied for third with three rushing touchdowns. Jacobs wasted no time getting his season off to a hot start, finishing the first game against Carolina with 139 total yards and three touchdowns.
Jacobs isn’t the Raiders’ only offensive player having a good season so far either. Derek Carr is currently fifth in completion percentage, and hasn’t yet thrown an interception. Darren Waller is in the top 20 for receiving yards, while having the third-most for a tight end.
The Raiders offense sure looks like it’s going to be a talented unit this season. This is even more impressive when you look a little deeper. Rookie first round receiver Henry Ruggs has already been dealing with a knee injury, keeping him from being 100 percent. The Raiders’ offensive line has also struggled some which may come as a surprise. Vegas was ranked as the 11th best o-line entering the season according to Pro Football Focus. They have failed to live up to that expectation thus far. The Raiders’ offensive line currently ranks 24th in run blocking, and 17th in pass protection according to Football Outsiders. These struggles can partially be placed on star tackle Trent Brown missing time with a calf injury. If the Raiders are able to get fully healthy, their already good offensive should take yet another step up.
So where’s the problem?
Well to say it nicely, the Las Vegas Raiders defense is not very good. They’re currently allowing the seventh-most total yards per game, and the fourth-most passing yards per game. It doesn’t stop there either. Through the first two games, the Raiders only have one sack, which is the second-fewest in the entire league. Las Vegas hasn’t been able to force turnovers as well. They have just one takeaway, which puts them tied for the third-fewest in the NFL.
So while it’s great that the Raiders offense is so explosive, they almost have to be in order to win games. The Vegas defense is what’s going to hold this team back from being great. Sure the Raiders will win games. They might even make the playoffs with the addition of an extra team. But until they improve their defense, let’s pump the brakes on the Las Vegas Raiders.