The Kansas City Chiefs are the reigning Super Bowl champions and to have a chance at beating them, Jon Gruden and the Las Vegas Raiders must build a contender.
The Raiders may never have Patrick Mahomes or a quarterback of his caliber under center. They might not even have the offensive fire power to go shot for shot, but, going old school with a modernized West Coast Offense and a rock solid defense could be the answer.
Salt and Pepper
The nickname fits the bill as Clelin Ferrell and Maxx Crosby had an immediate impact as rookies.
Crosby was a defensive rookie of the year snub and earned his way from an afterthought to starter in five weeks. He started 10 games, and in those, he had equal and/or better stats than 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa. Crosby played like a seasoned vet in a rookie’s body and with added strength and a little more weight to anchor him down in 2020,the sky is the limit.
On the other hand, Ferrell was a playmaker of a different sort and for the majority of the season, he did the dirty work in the trenches. He didn’t garner much accolades for his pass rushing prowess, nor did he flash any eye-popping stats, but he was a run stopping containment animal.
The Raiders, throughout the majority of the season,were a Top 10 rushing defense. The rub is that their secondary was so porous that other teams wouldn’t even consider running the ball. Putting that aside, the Raiders were very sound in their gap assignments and were tackling well and in gangs. A lot of that had to do with the play of Ferrell on the strong side setting the edge and squeezing plays back into the help.
Ferrell also showed versatility when sliding down the line of scrimmage and playing defensive tackle at times. Quickness and strength are areas which strike me out as places to improve his game, but a lot of it could also be him trying to make the adjustment from college to the pros. The defensive end is a special talent and he just needs some time to grow.