On a recent episode of the Chargers Weekly Podcast host, Chris Hayre sat down with The Athletic’s Tashan Reed to discuss the Raiders.
Lots of changes for the Raiders
In a conversation mostly centered around the Raiders’ offseason moves, both men expressed confusion over the offensive line. When discussing the revamped offensive line, Reed remarked “They’ll be some growing pains.” These growing pains are the cause of trading away three opening day starters from 2020. Helping to replace them will be 2021 first-rounder Alex Leatherwood who should slide in at right tackle. The man with the biggest task is the new center, Andre James, who must replace a Pro Bowler in Rodney Hudson.
“This is his first time being a starter in his career, so while he’s not a rookie, it’s almost like a rookie season.” -Reed commenting on James’s lack of experience
Both men understood the grave danger the Raiders could be in if the experiment goes wrong. Emphasizing that “if the offensive line is struggling to start the season, that could cost you a playoff spot.”
Part of the conversation also centered around how Henry Ruggs III can take his game to the next level. The first thing that Reed noted about Ruggs’ game is that he must do better at getting separation, “Even if you’re fast, those corners can still get their hands on you if your route running and releases aren’t smooth.” He also made sure to note the Raiders were not completely blameless and “need to get him more touches.”
A familiar face changes sides
After having a front-row seat to Gus Bradley’s defense over the last few seasons, Hayre asked Reed his opinion on the new coach. “He sticks to what he knows… the principals are easier to learn than the last system” was his response when comparing Bradley with Paul Guenther. Both mentioned that the Raiders’ defensive personnel has remained largely the same outside of Trevon Moehrig and Yannick Ngakoue. Both sides expressed excitement overseeing Moehrig in the “Derwin James role.”
One thing both sides understand, however, is the fight for second in the AFC West will be difficult. If the Chiefs stay healthy, they’re clearly the favorites. Alas, the Raiders can make the playoffs as long as they fend off the Chargers and Broncos. As always, this rivalry will be crucial to the season outlook and may even dictate a playoff spot.
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*Top Photo: Harry How/Getty Images