Ah, the preseason. It’s the unofficial, official return of football. The Las Vegas Raiders opened up this year’s early game schedule by beating the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-11. Even though the result doesn’t matter in the big picture, what happens during the game does.
The Raiders, like many teams, don’t have too many starting positions up for grabs. The battles that are ongoing are to mainly fill out the back end of the depth chart. Especially on the defensive side of things. There were some things worth noting and keeping an eye on during the next few weeks.
Raiders Defense And Disciplined Football
The Raiders are notoriously known as one of, if not the most, penalized teams in the NFL. They’ve beaten themselves too many times in the past with costly, poorly timed penalties. However, in the game against the Jaguars, the Raiders were only tagged six times for a mere 46 yards. Only one of which was on the Raiders defense, so that’s definitely noteworthy.
This is a really encouraging sign for a team under a completely new coaching staff. Especially for a defense with a lot of new pieces. While most of the main pieces weren’t out there for this exhibition, it’s a telling sign of how well the coaching staff has prepared the entire team. If this is something that transfers to the regular season, the Raiders could have a positive season on the defensive end.
Notable Moments And Highlights For The Raiders
As stated, the outcome of the game often tells us little of what the team is going to be. Preseason is when individualism can be really highlighted. For example, last season, Nate Hobbs won himself a lot of playing time by performing well during the early season. There were a few moments within this game that stood out.
The Jaguars gained some momentum with a first down and a 13-yard gain on the third defensive drive. That was until Tyree Gillespie and Darius Phillips came together for a hit and forced the ball loose. Duron Harmon managed to recover the ball, and the Raiders swung that momentum back in their favor. Phillips also had a solid game not just in coverage but also tied for the team lead in tackles with three.
— Las Vegas Raiders (@Raiders) August 5, 2022
The other play that stuck out was mid-way through the third quarter, when Kendall Vickers managed to get the only sack of the game. The defensive line managed to move Kyle Sloter’s feet quickly, forcing him to readjust and eventually into the arms of Vickers.
Things To Keep An Eye On Moving Forward
Early in the game, there were some interesting developments that are worth keeping track of. Nate Hobbs played outside, covering the wide outs early in the game. This is interesting as Hobbs played mostly in the slot. It’s possible that the new staff simply wants to see how he performs on his own, but it’s also possible that they want to use him in new ways for 2022. The front seven also shifted a few times, from a 4-3 to a 3-4.
This one really is most likely Patrick Graham wanting to mix it up as he’s done in the past. This is also something they could be experimenting with to see if one option is better than the other. It should be interesting to see how this defense ends up taking shape before the start of the season. The Raiders defense has solid potential to be a strong unit for this team in the upcoming season.
*Top Photo: Naomi Baker/Getty Images