A three-game losing streak has left Raider Nation begging for answers on all fronts. As the Las Vegas Raiders hold on to the final string of playoff hope, here are the three biggest questions we have.
Will the run game ever get going?
Raiders running back Josh Jacobs blew the top off the stadium in his first two seasons. He was nearly first in yards per attempt and yards after contact the previous two seasons. This season that could not be farther from the case. One thing is certain: the Raiders’ run game is in trouble.
Blame it on the play calling or the offensive line, but one thing is for sure: the Raiders’ run game is in trouble. Jacobs has rushed for just 333 yards this season, per Pro Football Reference. 333 rushing yards on the season is less than three quarterbacks have. His best game was in Week 9 against the Giants, but since then, he has rushed for 16 yards and 37 yards in the last two games.
Now, it is not all on Jacobs. Kenyan Drake and Jalen Richard also have to do their part on the ground this week. The Cowboys’ rush defense is among the top 10 in the league. As for the Raiders’ rushing production? It’s in the bottom five in the NFL.
However, the offensive line has steadily improved and has opened more holes for the running backs over the last few weeks. If the offensive line continues to get better, look for the run game to do the same.
Can the defense continue to play at this level?
The Raiders’ defense has played lights out this season compared to previous seasons. Their pass rush duo of Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue sits atop the league in QB pressures. New Raiders cornerback Casey Hayward has also played at an extremely high level. He has yet to allow a touchdown in coverage. These three players are not all the defense has to offer, however.
The Las Vegas defense has been the glue of the team through ten weeks. As the offense flounders and flails, the defense has remained steady. Last week, the defense held Cincinnati to 13 points until the fourth quarter. Nevertheless, a defense can only hold for so long. Sooner or later, the unit will get tired after spending so much time on the field, especially these past three games. As the Raiders continue to push ahead, can the defense maintain this level of play?
If the offense continues to struggle to keep the ball, the defense may also drop off in production. By that same token, if the Raiders’ offense starts to look like it did at the beginning of the season, the defense has a good chance to continue to play well.
Will Las Vegas open up the playbook?
Raider Nation has been screaming from the mountaintops to see offensive coordinator Greg Olson open up the playbook. They want Marcus Mariota, they want to see Carr let it fly, and most of all, they want touchdowns.
The Raiders have consistently played conservative football this season. It has led to the loss of leads and losses of games on numerous occasions. As the Raiders take on one of their most challenging opponents of the season, will we finally see the creativity everyone has been longing for?
*Top Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images