Raiders running back Josh Jacobs, Dave Ziegler Jimmy Garoppolo

Las Vegas Raiders: 2 BOLD Predictions For The Upcoming 2023 Season

In the last eight months of Raiders football, we’ve experienced our fair share of surprises. Dave Ziegler is rebuilding the Silver and Black; it’s an extensive process that will require patience from both players and coaches. Furthermore, a competitive division leaves limited room for dysfunction. Can Josh Jacobs and Jimmy Garoppolo help compete in the AFC West?

The clock is ticking, and expectations are high – what can we expect to see in Las Vegas this season?

Two Bold Predictions For The Las Vegas Raiders In 2023

Josh Jacobs will lead Mick Lombardi’s offense to a playoff berth

Changes on the Raiders’ depth chart will cause Mick Lombardi to rethink his offensive scheme this season.

With a new quarterback under center in 2023, relying on Derek Carr‘s experience is no longer an option. Dave Ziegler agreed to a three-year, $72.75 million deal with Jimmy Garoppolo in free agency, crowning the former Patriot as the starting QB for the foreseeable future. Garoppolo is no stranger to leading a team, but will likely need time to reacquaint himself with Josh McDaniels’ system. Eventually, the 31-year-old will gain confidence and become a contributor on offense – but how will Las Vegas survive until then?

I believe the answer is pretty simple: feed Josh Jacobs.

Limiting mistakes will keep the Raiders’ offense above water next season. We can expect fewer drop-back passes and more handoffs to the team’s stable of running backs. Luckily for the Raiders, there’s a certain running back on their roster who will optimize an increased workload. In 2022, Josh Jacobs ranked first in rushing yards (1,653) and earned the highest running rating (91.9), all while totaling the second-most rushing attempts (339). He also found the end zone 12 times, finishing fifth among active backs.

Exploiting open running lanes should become even easier for No. 28 this upcoming season. Although seven of the Raiders’ 17 matchups are against teams who fielded a top-10 run defense in 2022, less than 50% of this year’s schedule defends running schemes well.

Las Vegas ranked 17th in run blocking (57.9) one season ago, but experience has helped the club’s linemen develop. Jermaine Eluemunor and Kolton Miller showed tremendous improvement in their ’22 campaign, combining for a 76.15 run-blocking grade. The duo of tackles should help Josh Jacobs carry his team to a Wild Card playoff berth.

New Raiders quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo will have his best season as an NFL QB

Managing a football game is easier when a quarterback can rely on a consistent rushing attack, as it gives them time to recognize blitzes and identify mismatches as the game progresses. When more defenders are assigned to stop the run, it equates to more open receivers downfield.

Jimmy Garoppolo isn’t new to this approach. In 2017, Garoppolo earned a grade of 86.6 doing just that. In a six-game span, the veteran signal caller totaled 1,560 yards and seven touchdowns through the air.

Garoppolo has only improved since then.

From 2018 and beyond, the Eastern Illinois alum has thrown 75 touchdown passes while limiting turnovers. In 2022, he finished the regular season with a 4:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. A foot injury cut his season short, but we can expect him to return to the gridiron this season.

Finding an open target won’t be a problem for Las Vegas’ gunslinger. Dave Ziegler used his resources wisely, acquiring Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers as outside threats within the last two years. A trade with the Giants sent tight end Darren Walker to New York, and the Raiders filled Waller’s spot by drafting Michael Mayer – a 6’4 vertical threat from Notre Dame.

Mayer’s size and speed will help him become an open target while defenders focus on shutting down Las Vegas’ wide receivers. Garoppolo has a group of skilled players that will help him shine this season.

Predicting the outcome of the team’s 2023 campaign can lead to disappointment. The Raiders are a developing team with a few kinks that still need to be worked out. However, the purpose of an NFL front office is to build championship-contending rosters; so, are we wrong in believing in what others may deem impossible?

I expect the Raiders to make great strides this season – that’s what winning franchises do. The Silver and Black will rely on their new offense to put points on the board, starting with Jacobs and Garoppolo.

*Top Photo: Associated Press/David Becker

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