Stepping off the plane in Massachusetts, the Las Vegas Raiders can leave Gillette Stadium undefeated. Leave the Tuck Rule behind in the history books and focus on the now. At 2-0, if the Raiders can escape the Northeast with a win, this would set them up well with a divisional schedule still to play. Now, before anyone checks off this game into the win, column, there is work needed to be done.
Fix the Rush
Granted, after two games, drawing a bead on the defensive end play may appear premature but numbers do not lie. The defensive line, after two games: one sack, nine pressures, four knockdowns. The same line boasts a first-round pick and two high-priced free-agent signings. If you give Cam Newton or any experienced quarterback too much time, they will shred you. In all honesty, maybe sprinkle in more Adren Key and less Clelin Ferrell in this game. In the first two games, the snap counts bear this out. Ferrell dropped from 78 to 63 percent. At this point, throwing the kitchen sink at the problem could not hurt. The Patriots lack a big-threat wideout and prefer to take the ball vertically in segments. This line group provides a strict test for Rod Marinelli. The Raiders jettisoned Brentson Buckner for him.
Now, everyone knows what Josh Jacobs brings to the table. His hard-running style embodies what Jon Gruden prefers his offense to feature. However, fifty-nine touches after two games feel a bit excessive. Expecting a back to shoulder that type of workload for the duration of the season does not seem like the brightest idea. By relying on Booker and Richard, the Raiders could use Jacobs to close the show, provided the score is in their favor late. Plus, Richard’s elusiveness in space gives Las Vegas the added element of spreading the field. Bill Belichick already knows what he will scheme for against Jacobs. Why make his job easier?
Continue Ruggs Threat
In essence, Henry Ruggs’ four catches do not tell the whole story. In fact, Carr’s desire to connect early vertically should be the headline. The Patriots love placing their shutdown corner, Stephon Gilmore on the number-two wideout while bracketing the number-one. However, the Raiders do not clearly employ a top wideout, yet. As a result, look for Gilmore to cover Ruggs. As the Seahawks showed last Sunday, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year can be beaten. While DK Metcalf poses a different type of threat than Ruggs, Derek Carr displays the type of arm talent to make him sweat regardless.
Unlike years past, going to New England doesn’t feel like a daunting task. Granted, Bill Belichick still patrols the sidelines. Yet, the Brady mystique headed down south for Tampa. As such, the Las Vegas Raiders enter Sunday’s tilt with a chance to emerge undefeated.