While the Las Vegas Raiders’ offense impressed in Week 1 against the Carolina Panthers. Yet, the defense certainly stressed all members of RaiderNation. Throughout the first half, the Raiders and Nick Kwiatkoski shut Christian McCaffery down to about 35 rush yards. But, Kwiatkoski left the game with a pectoral injury in the second half. McCaffery would add on 60 more rushing yards, almost entirely in the fourth quarter. Kwiatkoski’s effort certainly felt important. In addition, he will be missed for as long as this pectoral injury keeps him out.
Teddy Bridgewater threw the ball more than he appeared comfortable with. Despite being put into a higher usage situation than expected, Bridgewater still played incredibly well. Bridgewater would complete 22 of his 34 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown. Bridgewater’s touchdown was a 75-yard pass to Robby Anderson, created by a massive break in coverage. Mo Hurst would get to Bridgewater once behind the line of scrimmage, but he would be the sole sack getter for the Raiders today.
The Raiders entered the 2020 season with an impressive amount of hope surrounding their defense, but hope alone does not win football games. If the defense can barely slow down an average quarterback on an average team, stopping Drew Brees and the Saints next week will be far more difficult.
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Positively, Jonathan Abram looked dangerously relentless throughout his first full game with the Raiders, leading the team with 12 total tackles, including a crushing strike on McCaffery that shockingly did not jar the ball loose.
Better Late Than Never
Clelin Ferrell played mostly quiet throughout the game, stirring up the critics. In the end, he left his mark on the game by stopping Panthers’ fullback Alex Armah short of the line. That stop preserves the game.
This week, the Raiders did just enough to pull out a win, but if the effort is similar next week, the Saints could be headed towards a track meet. Hopefully, this game will be viewed as a warm-up game and the “real” Raiders defense will shine in Week 2. It appears the team’s pass rush has taken a decent step back, which could be incredibly disheartening considering the steps forward the offense has already taken.