In Week 13, the list of concerns heading into this offseason would have been massive, as there seemed to have been a lot of holes on the Las Vegas Raiders’ roster. Now, it’s a lot smaller. Winning tends to fix everything and winning four straight and making the playoffs helped fill a lot of those holes. Still, some remain. These are the three most important issues that the Silver and Black must address during the offseason.
The Offensive Line
Could it be more obvious? The offensive line was the Raiders’ Achilles heel throughout the season, and it was a big reason for their demise in the playoffs.
Replacing Rodney Hudson with Andre James still hurts. Drafting Alex Leatherwood, then watching him fail to perform throughout the season hurts. This unit was one that was consistently hurting the team as the year went on, and it needs to be fixed.
When every big offensive play seems to be called back by a holding penalty, you have a problem. So, what’s the solution? Although James was indeed a downgrade from Hudson, he played much better in the back half of the season. If he gets the starting job at center next year, Raiders’ fans can hope he continues that play.
Leatherwood struggled, but so did Kolton Miller in his rookie year, and look how that turned out. Obviously, you can say that about any player who has had a rocky first year, but the Raiders don’t exactly have another choice at the moment. Then, there are solid foundation pieces like Miller and Denzelle Good. Everyone else will need to be replaced through free agency or the draft.
This one isn’t about a player or a position, but rather the players as a whole. If there was anything besides the offensive line that killed the Raiders last week, it was the game-changing penalties. There were several, and Las Vegas proved that a team can’t win in the playoffs without discipline.
Maybe it takes a new coach or a new leader to do that. Maybe it’s just a lack of talent or awareness. Either way, the Raiders won’t find themselves winning any playoff games anytime soon without discipline.
One possible answer could be luring Jim Harbaugh. Harbaugh is an excellent head coach, and his teams have one common trait: discipline. Or, we could see some younger players grow and set a new culture for the Raiders. One thing is for certain, though: the Raiders need to be a much more disciplined team if they want to repeat last year’s success.
A Star Wide Receiver
At the beginning of this season, the Raiders seemed to finally have a solid WR1, someone to help Derek Carr tear up opposing defenses. Now, the Raiders are left without one, once again.
Las Vegas has plenty of talented receivers on its roster. Hunter Renfrow had a record-breaking year, while Zay Jones emerged as an extremely reliable and underrated target as the year progressed. Darren Waller will be back next season, and the receiving room will certainly have talent.
Still, for all of these pieces to help the offense reach its full potential, the Raiders need to land a star receiver. Whether it’s Davante Adams, who’s had plenty of rumors circulating lately, or through a trade or a draft pick, it needs to happen.
In the past month, Raider Nation went from eyeballing a rebuild to preparing for another playoff run next year. Whether the Silver and Black decide to clean house or just retool, they won’t be any better in 2022 without fixing these key things.
*Top Photo: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports