Las Vegas Raiders

Biggest Concerns Following Raiders’ Week 1 Action

Has your heart rate returned to normal yet? The Las Vegas Raiders stole victory from the jaws of infamy, defeating the Baltimore Ravens 33-27 in an overtime thriller on Monday night.

In true Raiders fashion, this game was an emotional rollercoaster and a true total team effort. However, it wasn’t all sunshine in the desert. 

Let’s take a look at the biggest concerns for the Silver and Black as they prepare for a short week against an equally daunting opponent in the Pittsburgh Steelers.

How long will Yannick Ngakoue and Gerald McCoy be out?

For the first time in what feels like a lifetime, the Raiders were kept alive on Monday night due to a relentless pass rush. While the offense struggled to click early, big fish acquisition Yannick Ngakoue and third year defensive end Maxx Crosby tore apart the Ravens’ tackles. Gerald McCoy also helped provide much needed juice along the defensive line.

Unfortunately by the final snap of the night, Ngakoue was sidelined with a hamstring injury and McCoy was carted off with a leg injury. While it should go without saying that McCoy will more than likely miss an extended amount of time, The Nightmare could have been held out due to precautionary reasons with Jon Gruden hoping that Ngakoue’s injury isn’t worst-case scenario.

One reason defensive end Carl Nassib looked so fresh when strip-sacking Lamar Jackson in overtime was due to the line depth the Raiders have cultivated. Pressure will once again be imperative come Sunday against the Steelers. 

The new offensive line looked…

…Troubling. A lot was made about the Raiders shipping off three of the five opening day offensive line starters from the 2020 season. Las Vegas countered this by drafting a new right tackle in Alex Leatherwood, brought back guards Denzelle Good and Richie Incognito. They also fully empowered young center Andre James.

Do you recall any long runs from Josh Jacobs on Monday? Maybe you just remember the immediate flag that followed (twice on James) wiping the gain away. Leatherwood getting beat by a veteran the caliber of Justin Houston was to be expected. James sending a snap ten yards back that Derek Carr didn’t ask for was laughable, but anticipated. The utter lack of a ground game, however, was a bit troubling. 

One thing to keep in mind is the Ravens were a top 10 unit against the run last season. On top of that, Incognito was out and Good was injured during the game. If Leatherwood thought he had his hands full with Houston, wait till he meets TJ Watt come Sunday.

Does Derek Carr have Darren Waller on his fantasy team?

Carr targeted Darren Waller seven times before he ran out of the tunnel. By game’s end, Waller had been targeted a whopping 19 times, finishing with double digit catches and a score. 2020’s first-round selection Henry Ruggs III, 2020 third-round selection Bryan Edwards, and Hunter Renfrow finished with nineteen targets combined. 

We’re all pretty tired of hearing about how ready Ruggs and Edwards are to take the next step. There were times when both were left on the sidelines during third down plays. Look, no disrespect to Zay Jones. The guy wisely became Carr’s personal catch partner as soon as he became a Raider. In fact, he caught the game winner on Monday night. But there’s no reason he should be on the field on third down over Ruggs or Edwards.

The Raiders got off to the type of slow start you’d expect from a team that got zero preseason snaps from their starting offense. However, the Ravens were without two of their top three corners. If there was ever a game to unleash Ruggs consistently and build Carr’s confidence in him, it was Monday. Carr has said he fully trusts Edwards, and they did connect often when it mattered most. Nevertheless, let’s make that something we see in the first quarter as well.

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*Top Photo: Associated Press/David Becker

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