With the Las Vegas Raiders coming out of their bye week, now is a good time to analyze the state of the franchise. After seven games played, Las Vegas holds a favorable 5-2 record. With a tough stretch of games on the horizon, it is important for this team to get healthy. Guys like Richie Incognito and Trayvon Mullen will be crucial for Las Vegas down the stretch. With that being said, let us analyze all three phases of this first-place team.
State of the Raiders: Post-Bye Week Synopsis
Derek Carr In Full Control
The difference on offense pre and post-Jon Gruden is vast. Since his departure, Las Vegas has condensed their offensive playbook. The offense has less pre-snap motion and Derek Carr has more control than ever before. He is spreading the ball around and avoiding unnecessary sacks. The rushing attack has also greatly improved since Gruden’s departure. This is likely because Kenyan Drake’s snap count has increased exponentially over the last two weeks. When Josh Jacobs is healthy, Las Vegas has a true two-headed monster that is challenging to defend. The offensive line, as a whole, has been the lone weak spot. However, Kolton Miller is solidifying himself as one of the best offensive tackles in the league. Somehow, there are still individuals who still refuse to admit they misevaluated this roster at the start of the season. It is a crying shame.
Defense Vastly Improved
Gus Bradley is a miracle worker considering the job he has done with this defense. His simplified scheme has allowed the defense to play fast and loose. In this scheme, there is a lot more zone coverage and a lot less blitzing. This has allowed players like Casey Hayward and Nate Hobbs to thrive in the secondary. It would be foolish to credit that unit alone though. Maxx Crosby and Yannick Ngakoue have developed into the most dominant pass-rushing duo in the league. Crosby is having a Defensive Player of the Year-type season with seven sacks, 12 quarterback hits, and four total pressures. Clearly, no one has been a bigger beneficiary of Ngakoue’s arrival than Crosby himself. The one thing you hope to see going forward is more forced turnovers. It is the only thing standing between this defense and “elite” status.
Special Teams a Mixed Bag
It has not happened yet, but Daniel Carlson’s regression may eventually cost Las Vegas a game in the future. He clearly is not the same top-tier level kicker he was last season. For whatever reason, Carlson seems to be struggling with some consistency issues. Two missed extra points may not seem like a lot, but this league is too competitive to be walking away from easy points like that. For comparison, two extra-point attempts are all Carlson missed through the entirety of the 2020 season. Thankfully, his punter counterpart in A.J. Cole seems to be sporting the strongest leg in the league. He currently leads the NFL in punt gross average with 53 yards per attempt. The guys on punt coverage deserve some of the credit here too. Las Vegas just needs to get Carlson playing up to the level of the rest of this unit.
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