After a convincing Week 2 win on the road in Pittsburgh, the Las Vegas Raiders proved why they deserve the hype. Unquestionably, the Silver and Black have held their own and dominated early challenges. Between the defense trending upward and Derek Carr’s stout performance, let’s review some noteworthy takeaways.
Derek Carr is still ascending…
Sure, it was only Week 2, but with 817 yards and four touchdowns, Derek Carr has jumped out as an early MVP candidate. To make his early success even more impressive, he has accomplished it without Josh Jacobs, who did not play last week. An overall flat rushing offense to start the year hasn’t helped. The Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens, who combined for victories over the Buffalo Bills and Kansas City Chiefs, are not easy to beat. Carr is proving he can continue to ascend under Jon Gruden, despite the holes in the offensive line. Should his play continue, there should be no doubts about his future during a year with massive contract implications.
The O-line needs to be fixed…
Thanks to Carr’s fantastic pocket presence and speedy release, the offensive line has been able to hold up in the passing game. However, run-blocking has been a consistent issue thus far. The Silver and Black have just 134 total rushing yards through two games, averaging an underwhelming 2.9 yards per carry. While injuries have surely played a role in the rushing woes, it is not a good look for a team that completely demolished one of the league’s best units. Josh Jacobs and Kenyan Drake are a capable duo, granted they have the proper unit to run behind, which has not been the case. The priority for the Raiders heading into Week 3 needs to be securing a capable depth piece, if not a quality starter, to bolster the line.
The defense means business!
You read that right. The Raiders finally have a defense to rely on when the offense falls short. According to Pro Football Focus, Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue are leaping off to a hot start. Both are within the top ten highest-graded pass rushers this season. Crosby himself has a league-leading 16 pressures and ten QB hits.
Casey Hayward is making an immediate impact on the Raiders!
The free-agent acquisition had the third-highest PFF Grade among CBs in Week 2 (85.1) pic.twitter.com/STHMRdWsxk
— PFF Las Vegas Raiders (@PFF_Raiders) September 22, 2021
Free-agent signing, Casey Hayward, has even been the highest-graded cornerback through two games. Hayward has been targeted five times and has yet to allow a single reception. The Raiders have a long season ahead but the defense has certainly been a bright spot.
*Top Photo: Associated Press/Rick Scuteri