Yesterday, the New England Patriots signed Cam Newton a one-year deal. Now, you may ask how that pertains to the Las Vegas Raiders. Trust me, we will get to that point in rather short order. Regardless of what the NFL season resembles, the Raiders will need to contend with an increasing headache. The mobile quarterback presents an immediate threat and a slew of problems for the defense.
Of the Raiders’ sixteen games, nine of their games will see them facing what you could define them as an elusive quarterback. Names like Mahomes, Newton, and Tyrod Taylor bring something to the field that Brady, Brees, and Rivers don’t. Granted, the mobile passer may not possess the hardware of some of their counterparts. Yet, these seven games will provide a firm test.
While nine games appear daunting, within those, six reside within the AFC West. From Mahomes to Taylor, with Lock in-between, the Raiders will face a quick-footed passer during each divisional contest. We all know what Patrick Mahomes can extend plays and break contain, Drew Lock provides the wild card. Believe it or not, the Chargers, be it Taylor or Herbert will test the boundaries of the defense.
With a revamped defense, the Raiders expect immediate results. That is to say, all of the heat and expectations fall upon Paul Guenther. Will Rod Marinelli lurking as the defensive line coach, Guenther needs a hot start. Mayock and Gruden spent millions in hopes of significant improvement. Entering his third year, no safety net exists. Stopping drives and three-and-outs must be the order of the day. Marinelli will provide assistance with the ends. Ferrell, Crosby, Key, and Nassib cannot get greedy and overaggressive. Crashing in will cost this team. On the other hand, a better approach will be a different route to the quarterback. Now, the defensive tackles should feast with a quarterback sitting in the pocket.
The First Problem
Provided the Raiders can generate an effective pass rush, they must secure the stop. Making the passer uneasy works. Yet, getting him to the ground is key. Speaking of Key, the third-year end and his cohorts must not whiff on these stops. For example, Mahomes moving around the pocket frees up receivers vertically. A corner cannot stay with any of the Chiefs wideouts for long. As a result, Mahomes spots them and find them.
The Second Problem
Will he pull the ball or hand it off? This will bring an undisciplined defense to a screeching halt. In Kansas City, linebackers and ends will need to either commit or wait. With that hesitation, teams like the Chiefs sucker defenses in. Meanwhile, Cam Newton and Tyrod Taylor will feast on the outside if defenses crash downhill.
The Las Vegas Raiders face mobile quarterbacks with confidence but caution. In order to enjoy a successful season, the defense needs to delay any runs to the outside.