On November 29th, the Las Vegas Raiders will travel to Atlanta, where Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan and a fearsome passing attack will test them.
Realizing that the Raiders defensive backfield was in dire need of reinforcements, general manager Mike Mayock sprung into action. Via NFL free agency, he added Damarious Randall and Jeff Heath to bring in quality veteran depth. Then, in the 2020 NFL Draft, the Raiders selected two cornerbacks, Damon Arnette and Amik Robertson. These were brilliant moves to shore up the defense in what has become a “pass-happy” league, one where the Falcons are one of the best.
By now the Raiders’ defensive struggles against the pass are well documented. One favorable thing going for the team in regards to this matchup is that it’s until Week 11. By then, the new additions for the Raiders should be settled into their roles. There will be a bevy of new starters, the only exception being Trayvon Mullen. Technically, Johnathan Abram will be a rookie too as he didn’t even play one half of football last year. Fans will also find out if Abram’s a liability in pass coverage or not next season. We know he’s a hard hitter. Nonetheless, we’ll finally know if he can effectively cover receivers like the ones the Falcons possess.
Raiders Vs. An Air Raid
Those receivers we mentioned form one of the most lethal passing attacks in the NFL. The group consists of Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Russell Gage. Ryan threw for 14 touchdowns out of his 26 total to that trio last year. The total number of receptions for these three was also impressive in 2019: All in all, they hauled in 211 passes. The sheer talent and Ryan’s excellent percentage of on-target throws per attempt which was 75.3% in 2019, will test the Raiders’ will.
Covering and slowing down the Falcons’ receivers will only be part of the task. Between their dynamic trio, they had a total of 653 yards after the catch to go with nine broken tackles. Suffice to say, the tackling abilities of the Raiders young defensive backs will need to be on point in Atlanta.
With so much offseason focus on Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, it’s easy to forget about the defense. Unless the Raiders defense can stop potent offenses like that of the Falcons, it won’t matter much who’s under center for the Silver and Black.
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*Top Photo: Jason O. Watson/Getty Images