The Raiders face an uphill battle as training camp approaches. The roster is undergoing an overhaul and must deal with a stacked AFC. Even their own division is loaded, with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert still scratching the surface of what they can become. Not to be outdone, Sean Payton and Russell Wilson will do everything possible to stay out of the AFC West cellar, too.
3 Pressing Concerns For The Raiders As Training Camp Approaches
While it is not all doom and gloom for Raider Nation, there are a few impossible-to-ignore red flags: Health, wealth, and everything in between. These three concerns will cast a cloud over training camp, as the forecast for the 2023 season relies heavily on how the franchise handles its deficiencies.
No. 1: Can Jimmy Garoppolo Get Healthy In Time For Week 1?
You are probably tired of hearing about Jimmy Garoppolo’s laundry list of previous injuries. The only thing I have to say: Imagine how Niner fans felt. All jokes aside, the concern around Jimmy G is valid, and the controversy surrounding his physical and ensuing surgery further fanned the flames of uncertainty.
Head coach Josh McDaniels has a steadfast belief that Garoppolo will return to the field for Week 1. Fair or not — Raiders fans are rightfully skeptical and taking these statements with a grain of salt. After all, what is there to gain if McDaniels voices concern about his newest investment?
Quarterback is the most important position, not only in football but in the entirety of sports. Without a reliable, healthy starter, a team can find itself squarely behind the eight ball. Hopefully, McDaniels is right — for the sake of the Silver and Black fan base. Monitor this situation closely because Brian Hoyer and Aidan O’Connell are next in line if Garoppolo misses time.
No. 2: What Is Going On With Josh Jacobs?
The Raiders have been without their franchise cornerstone at running back, Josh Jacobs. Without any momentum toward a contract extension — and Jacobs’ unwillingness to play on the franchise tag — we have reached the stalemate portion of negotiations.
While it is still possible that Vegas will give in by meeting Jacobs’ contract demands, it becomes less likely with each passing day. This situation could leak into the regular season if the former Alabama standout holds his ground.
Vegas Has Tough Decision To Make With Jacobs
The success of the offense hinges on Jacobs eating away at defenses and commanding respect from the opposing coaching staff. Davante Adams and Jimmy Garoppolo’s lives will be infinitely harder without the Pro Bowler’s services.
Ideally, the two parties will reach a compromise and put this issue to rest. However, negotiations in the football world rarely end with both sides happy. Some sacrifices must be made to continue this partnership past 2023; here’s to hoping it reaches a resolution before Week 1.
No. 3: Who Will Step Up On Defense Behind Maxx Crosby And Chandler Jones?
Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones can elevate a defensive line by themselves. However, the remaining spots on the unit are a completely different story.
Divine Deablo and Robert Spillane profile as the starters at linebacker, which is… less than inspiring to say the least. Coaches have raved about Deablo’s development this offseason, so another year with the green dot could make the depth chart look better on paper than it does right now.
In the secondary, a few starting gigs are up for grabs. At safety, Tre’Von Moehrig and Marcus Epps are the front runners to start, but Christopher Smith has the talent to throw his hat in the conversation. The Raiders will use all three in 2023 either way.
Patrick Graham Is Coaching For His Job In 2023; Raiders Are Banking On His Ability To Develop Talent
At cornerback, the only locked-in starter is Nate Hobbs, and even he has a major question mark heading into the upcoming season. The former Illinois defensive back is best in the slot, but so is his new teammate Jakorian Bennett. Patrick Graham should do whatever it takes to get his best players on the field — regardless of where they fall.
The defense is not void of talent; it is just packed to the brim with uncertainty. If a few of these names make a leap in 2023, we might look up and see a respectable unit. It will be fun to monitor these positional battles, not only during training camp but as the season unfolds. Exciting — and anxious — times are ahead in Vegas.
*Top Photo: Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal