The slow starts on offense finally came back to bite the Las Vegas Raiders on Monday Night Football. Giving a three-touchdown lead to good football teams is never a great strategy, but it seems to be one that the Raiders have employed in 2021. Today would be a good day to break that pattern, and there’s no to believe the Silver and Black can’t do it.
The emotions will be flowing today in Sin City as the Raiders are coming off a divisional loss on primetime. A certain outside linebacker is playing his old team in their fancy new stadium as well. Justin Fields’s first game after being named the permanent starter. Both teams are going to be using any reason they can to come out swinging. And the Raiders need to swing first. The offense to start games has been atrocious. And in this game, there’s going to be plenty of pieces needed to make sure the Raiders start hot.
1. Whoever Is Blocking Khalil Mack
According to multiple sources at the Henderson facility for the Raiders, Tom Cable’s group has undergone some moving and shaking. So whether that’s Kolton Miller, Alex Leatherwood, Brandon Parker, or others, they’re going to have to hold that line against one of the premier pass rushers in football.
According to Pro Football Reference, Mack already has four sacks on the season and six pressures. While these numbers aren’t overly eye-popping, Raider Nation knows that he is a beast. And the offensive line has been shaky, at best, for the Raiders so far. They are going to have to right the ship, and fast.
2. Hunter Renfrow, WR
Renfrow has been one of, if not the most consistent player on the Raiders so far in 2021. As Field Yates noted on Twitter, Renfrow is one of only eight players in the NFL to have five or more catches in each game so far. With that, the secondary of the Bears has been suspect at times this year, especially in the slot. Renfrow has been relied upon by Derek Carr this year while also showing his versatility. Double and triple moves, motions, and punt returns have cemented him as a vital part of the offense. Feeding him early and often will help with the early game slump.
There are 8 players this season with at least 5 catches in every game: Davante Adams, DJ Moore, Justin Jefferson, Deebo Samuel, Cooper Kupp, Calvin Ridley, Brandin Cooks and….
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) October 5, 2021
3. Henry Ruggs III, WR
Raider Nation has said since Ruggs was drafted that he needed to be more involved. Well, we’re four weeks into the season, and that’s what we’ve gotten. The wild motions, screens, the short gang, and the long bomb have all been a part of his arsenal. The secondary of the Bears, as mentioned previously, has been average to below-average this season. And Eddie Jackson has struggled in comparison to his old pro-bowler ways. Throwing the long ball and testing the Chicago secondary early on will be greatly important in this game and can lay the groundwork for the run game.
Jon Gruden’s offense has not come out swinging as of late. It has been ten straight games of zero points on the board following the first possession. That has to change this week as the Bears are a very beatable team. And the Raiders are, on paper, the better team today. Coming out and playing like their hair is on fire, especially on offense, will put this team right back on track.
*Top Photo: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports