The Las Vegas Raiders are set to take on the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday after suffering a setback in their season opener. The Cardinals, for their part, were obliterated by the Kansas City Chiefs and their quarterback, Patrick Mahomes. While speaking to the media today, head coach Josh McDaniels spoke about his team’s next opponent and, more importantly, what his offense will be facing.
The most important aspect of the Cardinals’ defense is their tendency to blitz. That’s something McDaniels mentioned. Vance Joseph likes to blitz, a lot.
“They were one of the top couple blitzing teams in the entire league last year. They obviously didn’t change their philosophy last week. So, you know, they generate a lot of negative plays, a lot of pressure on the quarterback to create a lot of third and long situations with negative plays. Vance [Joseph] has always done a great job of being able to attack protections and formations with different pressures that he uses, he has a volume of them that’s pretty extensive.”
The Cardinals blitzed against the Chiefs how will the Raiders respond?
Repeating the same defensive formula against the Chiefs proved costly for the Cardinals. According to Next Gen Stats, Mahomes was blitzed on over half of his dropbacks. 54 percent to be exact. In response, Mahomes threw four touchdown passes. The argument has been made that blitzing Mahomes simply doesn’t work, at least not enough to help contain him. Despite this, Vance did not deviate from his tendencies. Will he do it against Derek Carr?
The Chargers were in Carr’s face consistently throughout Sunday’s game. They made him uncomfortable by forcing him to be extra aggressive with the ball. Not only that, but they also essentially made him one-dimensional as he focused solely on Davante Adams. It should also be noted that the offensive lines of the Chiefs and Raiders are worlds apart in terms of pass protection. A rotating unit that is still finding its footing could be another disaster waiting to happen in Week 2.
Las Vegas can’t look past this Cardinals defense
After facing the likes of Derwin James, Khalil Mack, and Joey Bosa, the Raiders don’t catch much of a break on Sunday. Now, they’ll have to contend with Budda Baker, Zaven Collins, and Isaiah Simmons as McDaniels stated.
“Again, it’s just awareness, communication, pre-snap, and then we got to follow our rules. I wouldn’t say we’ve seen every blitz that they have. So, we’re probably going to get some things that are unique to us. And that’s why we try to practice those things over and over again, all year long. Because when you face a team like this, it’s going to test you in that manner, you’re going to need to rely on what you know, you can’t always predict where it’s coming from. So, this will be a big challenge just for our whole overall operation, our communication, and then our ability to do our assignments once the ball snapped.”
As it stands, the Raiders might end up starting rookie Dylan Parham at center. That’s going to be huge in terms of picking up blitzes, calling out the formations, etc. Parham is certainly capable but considering it would only be his second NFL game, that’d be asking a lot. To the Raiders’ credit, they made some excellent adjustments in Sunday’s second half, something that bodes well considering how bad they looked in the first half. Whether the Raiders use an extra tight end to help with pass-blocking or use the run game early and often to open things up, the Silver and Black cannot afford to ignore this next challenge after coming up short in L.A.
*Top Photo: AP Photo/Matt York