Saturday night, the Las Vegas Raiders went to 2-0 with a 17-16 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. The Raiders seem to have the depth that was not available previously. It is why the team is looking strong this preseason.
The offense wasn’t as dominant as the previous week, with an underwhelming showing of football. Nathan Petermen led the attack to an average of just 4.67 yards per play and finished with a 20 percent third-down conversion rate.
The backup offensive line struggled, gave up three sacks, and couldn’t muster consistent drives during the game. The place where the Raiders are weak depth-wise is at tackle, and it was on full display Saturday.
Defensively, the Raiders continue to exhibit promise we haven’t seen from previous seasons. They held the Rams constantly on third down, forcing them to a 15% conversion rate.
However, the run defense was leaky, allowing the Rams to average for 4.7 yards per carry on the day. It is an item to monitor with the Seattle Seahawks averaging 5.7 the week before.
Who were the winners and losers?
Nate Hobbs' name has come up repeatedly from the media during training camp. The former fifth-round pick continues his path to becoming a day one starter. His performance on Saturday might have locked it up in an impressive fashion.
It started early in the game when he blew up a screen pass for a tackle for loss which displayed his aggressiveness and tackling ability. He finished it with a fantastic play to create interception, all about him reading the concept.
Nate Hobbs said NOPE.— Pro Football Network (@PFN365) August 22, 2021
Hobbs finished the game with a passer rating allowed of 16.7, according to PFF. He now has a passer rating allowed of 36.5 in the preseason.
Hobbs still has a few items to clean up in passing coverage, but potential shines on film. The intelligence he has as a player is why he is flying around the field making plays. Jon Gruden brought Gus Bradley to Las Vegas to get the defense to play fast and not think. Hobbs is proving that theory correct.
The Malcolm Koonce selection shocked many in Raider nation because they didn’t know the prospect. Coming out of the same school as Khalil Mack, Koonce dominated in the Mac conference at Buffalo. His talents as a pass rusher were the reason the Raiders believed in him, and he came to work Saturday night.
According to PFF, Koonce finished the game with two pressures overall but got his first sack of the preseason. He used a beautiful long arm to a spin move which he was setting up earlier.
Koonce goes long-arm to inside spin, fights through a double team. Party at the QB. pic.twitter.com/DexOpIyjIp— BD Williams (@BDWilliams18) August 22, 2021
His advanced pass rush techniques will allow him to win early on in the NFL. Koonce never looks lost in coverage as well and might work out at the Sam linebacker position.
The outlook for the former first-team All-MAC defender is sky-high after his performance versus the Rams. If he can grow into a stud pass rusher, the Raiders might have a new salt and pepper duo they weren’t expecting.
Richie's Incognito injury isn’t supposed to be serious, but his long-time outlook at 38 is worrisome. That’s where John Simpson steps in who put together another collection of pancakes on film. The former fourth-round pick might elevate the run to new heights.
Simpson got the chance to line up next to Alex Leatherwood, and they looked like a dynamic duo. The players worked in unison on duo blocks helping opening big holes for the running backs.
Leatherwood getting some good movement on the double on what could be DUO out of the gun? pic.twitter.com/tpH6BSnuTl— Ted Nguyen (@FB_FilmAnalysis) August 22, 2021
Simpson did his own work later in the red zone with a big pancake block on the zone lead. The power that the former Clemson Tiger possesses is extraordinary.
Emmons has impressed me for sure. Watch how he sets up the linebackers with his eye's weak side, then cuts back to the strong side A gap. Pancake by Simpson too. pic.twitter.com/Vi7kHC81vf— Marcus Johnson (@TheMarcJohnNFL) August 23, 2021
His issues in pass protection are still there, and he will have to work on his hand placement. Last season we saw better in that area as the season went along, and hopefully, that continues to grow.
Hobbs is taking Raider Nation by storm, and Amik Robertson is playing well, leaving an odd man out. That odd man appears to be Nevin Lawson now if he doesn’t produce in the next game. The Raiders are in a position to get younger at slot, and his looming suspension makes it an easy separation.
Lawson is not having a bad preseason, but he is the third slot corner compared to his competition. The veteran corner has never been a playmaker, and the players around him are creating splash plays.
With Keisean Nixon taking snaps over him outside, it becomes harder to find a fit for him on this football team.
The former Detroit Lion is in a challenging position. Bradley did hype him up during minicamp and OTA’s, even early training camp. Once the games started, the upside for the other nickel corner spots stood out, and both were homegrown draft selections. Lawson's chances of making this roster are dwindling by the day.
As an undrafted free agent, Dillon Stoner's buzz was high for him to make the team. After two preseason games, we haven’t seen much for the former Oklahoma State Cowboy. Marcell Ateman has outplayed Stoner, and his play against the Rams was not his best foot forward.
One play for Stoner sticks out the most from Saturday Night. He was the outside receiver on a concept they call dragon (slant/flat combo). Stoner is running the slant on this play and is open based on the coverage opened by the flat.
Nathan Peterman passes him the football slightly late. Since Stoner sees the safety coming down, he jumps, and alligators arm the throw.
When a player is attempting to make the football team, it isn’t time to make business decisions. Stoner didn’t receive many targets after that, with three for one reception and seven yards. People predicted he would make the final 53, but the practice squad is the better fit for Stoner.