To put it mildly, that was a dud. Week 1 came and went for the Las Vegas Raiders but after months of hype for Raider Nation, fans at Sofi Stadium walked away disappointed. Many resorted to violence after the game in an embarrassing display that has since gone viral. However, let’s focus on what happened on the field. In particular, the Raiders’ defense. Let’s take a look at the good, some of the bad, and the downright ugly.
The Good – Nate Hobbs Is That Guy, Second Half Adjustments Merit Praise
Nate Hobbs, take a bow. Hobbs was thrust into a starting role this season, and he didn’t disappoint. In layman’s terms, he did what he needed to do. Hobbs ended the game with nine total tackles, two tackles for a loss, and a key pass deflection in the fourth quarter. That pass breakup put the Raiders in position for a game-winning drive. However, it was not meant to be.
As a whole, the defense made notable adjustments coming out of the first half. By the game’s conclusion, they had given up just one touchdown, which allowed the Raiders to mount a comeback, with the Derek Carr-led offense scoring 16 points. Forcing the Chargers’ offense to come to a halt was huge in that game, especially when you consider the first-half struggles.
The Raiders’ run defense also got a better grip on the opposing running attack. The Chargers’ rushing offense was held to 2.5 yards per carry by the time the final whistle was blown. You could point out that the Chargers’ play-calling certainly got more conservative in the second half, but that doesn’t take away from the adjustments made. The defense kept the Raiders in it, and despite coming up short, they deserve kudos.
The Bad – What Happened To Raiders OLB Chandler Jones?
The question that many Raiders fans were asking themselves was regarding Chandler Jones. Other than Davante Adams, acquiring Jones was seen as the Raiders’ biggest offseason pickup. Regrettably, Jones was effectively neutralized by the Chargers’ tackles, especially Rashawn Slater.
Alright last one on this frontâ€¦
Clelin Ferrell had more total pressures than Chandler Jones did yesterday.
Rashawn Slater is HIM.
— Guilty As Charged Podcast (@GACPodcast17) September 12, 2022
Over the course of Sunday’s game, Jones recorded only two total tackles and literally applied little to no pressure. In his defense, he wasn’t the only one having issues along the defensive line. The Raiders’ pass rush as a whole was nearly nonexistent in that game. Just looking at the replay, Justin Herbert had all day to throw. The man could’ve made popcorn in the microwave with how much time he had.
The Ugly – First Half Struggles
The defense surrendered 17 points in the first half, but the bigger concern was the defense’s continuous giving up of big chunks of yardage on big plays. A couple of plays that stand out were two key third downs, one of which was converted due to a personal foul by the Raiders. Whether it was a lapse in discipline or not, it shows that there’s still much to clean up ahead of Week 2.
The defense looks to be a work in progress. In the first half, it looked like a similar story. Herbert couldn’t miss, and after two drives where they were stopped, it seemed like pitch and catch for the Chargers. Rush defense, as stated, looks better right now, but there’s much of the season to see. The defensive line needs to apply some pressure. In particular, the ends need to do something in Week 2. Fans give them the hype but having two talented pass rushers should lead to more pressure no matter what.
If they get a grade, it is a C-minus with some good and some bad, but all in all, more was expected. It was opening week, so don’t ring the alarm just yet, but another performance like this and questions will creep up.
Stay tuned to your favorite Raiders blog for more as we prep you for Week 2!
*Top Photo: Rick Scuteri/AP