The Las Vegas Raiders will be watching the Super Bowl from home, but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn a couple things from both the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs.
Give The QB Some Damn Weapons
The Raiders offense featured rookies Josh Jacobs, Hunter Renfrow and veteran tight end Darren Waller. When everyone was on the field, the Raiders showed the team could move the ball well and score. Whenever one of those players was taken away or injured though, the others struggled and the game plan collapsed. Las Vegas will need even more playmakers if they don’t want to see their main targets be shut down. The Chiefs had a trio of wide receivers who could perform no matter who was healthy or available. Sammy Watkins, Mecole Hardman and Tyreek Hill took turns at being Kansas featured weapon, and whenever the situation called for it, Travis Kelce showed he’s an upper-echelon tight end.
On the other hand, the Raiders lost every game Renfrow missed because of injuries. Also, Tyrell Williams was affected by plantar fasciitis for several games last season. Derek Carr had no receivers to throw the ball to, which meant opposing defenses could focus on Waller. We have talked about why the Raiders shouldn’t pursue Robby Anderson (unless it’s at the right price) and there will be a plethora of wide receivers to select at the draft. They could draft a couple wide outs and revamp their wide receiver corps. It’s true Carr has shown indecisiveness, but putting that aside, his main target at one point was the legendary Marcel Ateman, who isn’t the problem, but wasn’t the solution either.
Simply put, Las Vegas needs more talent on offense and the draft can help them get the difference makers they lack.
Related: Josh Jacobs measures up to other Raiders 1st round running backs
Defense Has To Give The Offense A Break
The 49ers had the second best defense in the NFL according to both Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders, which meant they didn’t fall behind on the scoreboard often, and their offense didn’t need to get into a shootout to have a chance to win the game. If Raiders head coach Jon Gruden wants to play ball control and emphasize short-precision passes, he needs to have a unit to complement that offensive philosophy. Currently, the Raiders defense is one of the worst in the league and had few impact players last season.
On the contrary, San Francisco has been building a sturdy defense through the draft, trades and free agency. This past year, they signed All-Pro Richard Sherman, former Pro Bowler Kwon Alexander, re-signed unsung hero Jimmy Ward, exercised DeFoster Buckner’s fifth-year option and drafted rookie of the year Nick Bosa and Dre Greenlaw. That’s half a defensive lineup full of difference makers and that’s without counting Dee Ford, who joined the team via trade.
It’s clear the 49ers aren’t afraid to allocate resources to their defense, and that’s something the Raiders should do too.
There are more reasons why both teams made it to the championship game, such as San Fransisco’s creative play design and Kansas’s stiff secondary. However, the Raiders should follow their blueprint if they want to become a Super Bowl contender.
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