Week 1 is now in the books and the Las Vegas Raiders walked out of Carolina 1-0. The Raiders offense did its job by scoring 34 points and while the defense did allow 30 points, it simply can be chalked up to a few minor mistakes here and there.
Outside of one play that resulted in a wide receiver Robby Anderson touchdown, the Raiders defense did its job to mitigate the big play. This is only possible with the defensive line doing their job upfront. It wasn’t a one-game instance though, as it was a common occurrence in Week 1. With defenses and offenses alike looking out of sorts, players were tired by the middle of the third quarter.
This shouldn’t come as a major surprise as this past offseason wasn’t like any other. There were no rookie minicamps nor veteran minicamps. Real full team activities didn’t start until early August about five weeks before the season started and no preseason. Nothing can replace live play as far as team preparation goes. Withouth the ability to prepare normally led to some of the struggles for the Raiders front-four in Week 1 more than likely.
Raiders’ Inability to Generate Pressure
The Raiders’ lack of pressure on Teddy Bridgewater stood out on both film and during the broadcast last Sunday. The Panthers offensive line did a good job keeping Bridgewater upright and free of hands in his face. The Panthers’ pass-protection allowed only one sack and just two quarterback hurries. This won’t cut it for the Raiders when they face the likes of Drew Brees, Tom Brady, and Patrick Mahomes. There were at least seven plays in which the Raiders flushed Bridgewater out of the pocket, forced to make a quick decision, or simply made to move around making his attempt that much harder.
Run Defense Looked Stout
The Raiders were a top ten defense (in yardage) when it came to the run last year. That trend appeared to transfer over to this year especially early on. When going against an elite running back like Christian McCaffrey, the most realistic goal is to simply limit the damage. McCaffrey scored two touchdowns and racked up 97 yards on 23 attempts. Things could’ve been worse had it not been for early effort upfront which slowed him down. Take this play by Johnathan Hankins. While it’s only the second play of the game he does a good job at resetting the right guard into the backfield to get the initial hit on McCaffrey to slow him down, allowing his teammates to finish off the tackle.
While many other teams aren’t as committed to the run as Jon Gruden, it’s crucial that they’re stout up front against the run as it can make their opponents one-dimensional.
Arden Key Looks Rejuvenated
This is going to be a big season for the third-year player out of LSU. Despite plenty of potential, Key’s health has been detrimental so far. As a result, Key’s on-field production hasn’t been on par with his 2018 draft “steal” status. That said, it’ll be a welcomed addition if Key can make an impact off the bench in 2020.
On this play, Key does a really nice job to beat a double team block from the double tight end set. However, because he takes a wide route to the ball carrier it allows Chris Manhertz (number 82) to recover and force Key out of the play.
Key looked good on film for the most part as he beat his man off the ball several times. With slightly better routes to the ball carrier and decision-making, Key could be a legitimate pass rusher for the Raiders this season.
A Look Ahead
The future looks bright with Key, Crosby, Ferrell, and Hurst, potentially becoming the big four. All four looked good in Week 1 minus a couple hiccups (and a few missed holding calls). The unit maintained McCaffrey, which was the priority. On the other hand, Bridgewater didn’t feel the heat often enough. It’ll be crucial for the line to create pressure moving forward. This will be key so the young secondary isn’t forced to cover receivers for eight seconds at a time. Opening week issues aside with just a few slight miscues needing attention, the unit’s solid.
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*Top Photo: Darren Yamashita/USA Today Sports