After scoring on six of their nine possessions against the Carolina Panthers, the Las Vegas Raiders will get to test their mettle against the New Orleans Saints. The Saints defense held Tom Brady and the high powered Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense to just 23 points last Sunday. To come out victorious on Monday Night Football, the Raiders will need to surround its offense among these three players.
The Raiders have offensive players to match up against the Saints
Henry Ruggs III
Ruggs kickstarted his NFL career in promising fashions by hauling in three catches for 55 yards on five targets. He then hurt his knee in the second quarter, which caused Raider Nation to hold its breath. However, the Alabama standout returned at the start of the third quarter but had zero targets for the remainder of the day.Â
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) September 13, 2020
Last Sunday, Saints cornerback Marhson Lattimore held Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans to just one catch in zone coverage. Then again, Evans was targeted only twice in 29 matchups against Lattimore. Ruggs is a different type of receiver than Evans, who is physical and can out-body defenders. Expect Ruggs to try and lose Lattimore in crossing routes and dust him on go routes in man coverage.Â
The Saints defense excels at stopping the run. The defensive line held the Buccaneers running backs to just 83 yards on 26 attempts despite playing 87% of their defensive snaps in nickel or dime packages, meaning they had five or six defensive backs and two or one linebackers on the field.Â
While that may sound highly impressive, Jacobs is a better runner and pass catcher than the trio of Ronald Jones, Leonard Fournette, and LeSean McCoy. The Raiders running back has made it a point to improve as a blocker and pass catcher, telling Josh Dubow of the Associated Press, that he aims to catch at least 60 balls this year.
Going through the #Raiders Week 1 tape.
RB Josh Jacobs â€” 139 total yards, 3 TDs.
Can see the receiving traits here on the angle route. Cross over the LB in coverage.
— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) September 14, 2020
Against the Panthers, Jacobs rushed for 93 yards on 25 attempts with three touchdowns and caught four passes for 46 yards. With the Saints defensive line being so stellar, expect Jacobs to catch shovel passes and run flat routes. After forcing 10 missed tackles against the Panthers on Sunday, expect Jacobs to do the same if a cornerback or safety is on him.
Waller had 45 yards with six receptions on eight targets against the Panthers, but the Raiders should see a more significant contribution from him against the Saints.
Between Buccaneers tight ends Rob Gronkowski and O.J. Howard, the Saints were able to limit a combined 47 yards on six receptions and one touchdown. The Saints nickel and dime packages were able to bottle up Howard and Gronkowski, who played for 77% of offensive snaps and was primarily used as a blocker.Â
Regardless, Waller is a better receiver than Howard, and at this stage in his career. Also, he’s faster and a better route runner than Gronkowski. At 6’6, Waller should be able to outrun linebackers Demario Davis and Alex Anzalone and overpower defensive backs P.J. Williams, and C.J. Gardner-Johnson.
Raiders Keys to Victory:
The longer the Raiders offense stays on the field, the more tired the Saints defense gets. Big packages with two or three tight end sets should be essential for the Raiders, so they can create mismatches and dominate the clock.
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Top Photo: Jeffrey Phelps/Associated PressÂ