Well, we’re five weeks into the season and the Las Vegas Raiders are still trying to figure out how to stop beating themselves. The Raiders had the Chiefs on the ropes yesterday on Monday Night Football by getting out to an early 17-point lead, but one thing led to another and Las Vegas now must climb out of a 1-4 hole to make the playoffs.
It’s funny, I’m sure a lot of people probably complained about the early bye week — I know I did — but with how the season has played out so far, it couldn’t have come at a better time. Josh McDaniels, the rest of the coaching staff and the entire team could use a week of self-reflection to figure out how to close out these one-score games. Plus, a few of the guys listed below really need to step their game up in a hurry.
WINNER: Chandler Jones
Jones has faced a lot of criticism so far this season as a lot of the fanbase — myself included — has grown frustrated with his lack of production, especially as a pass rusher. But McDaniels has had his player’s back in the media by saying Jones is doing a lot of things that don’t show up in the stat sheet. Well, the doubters and I all have egg on our faces this morning as the veteran was active on Monday night.
Jones was able to get pressure throughout the night and ended with four total pressures, his most in the silver and black. He’s still searching for that first sack of the season, but he was plenty effective with three hurries and one quarterback hit.
Adding to his busy evening, the free-agent signing was active against the run too, logging four tackles — another season-high — with an average depth of 1.8 yards past the line of scrimmage. He also mixed in two defensive stops at an 11.1 percent rate, so he was getting the job done in both facets of the game.
Hopefully, this is a sign of what’s to come from Jones moving forward.
LOSER: Nate Hobbs
For the first time all year, Hobbs looked like he was human. He’d been playing out of his mind up until this point but left the Chiefs game as the Raiders’ lowest PFF-graded defender that played at least 10 snaps with an ugly 37.1 mark. For context, that’s 23.3 points lower than his previous worst performance.
Hobbs struggled mightily in coverage, allowing seven catches on nine targets for 119 yards as the latter was the most surrendered on the team by 70 yards. What might be the most concerning aspect of his performance is that it was Kansas City’s speed receivers that were able to get to him. Mecole Hardman and Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught six of seven targets and combined for 111 yards with Hobbs covering them, and the one incompletion was a drop by Valdes-Scantling on a screen pass.
Long speed was an issue for the Illinois product coming out of college and he’s been able to mask that so far, but Andy Reid was able to isolate Hobbs and take some of his help away to get the matchups the Chiefs wanted. There’s no reason to believe Hobbs won’t bounce back, but this is certainly something the coaching staff wants to monitor moving forward.
WINNER: Divine Deablo
I think part of what made Monday night’s loss so infuriating for Raider Nation is that a few guys who have struggled so far this season played well, including Deablo.
He ended up leading the team in total tackles with 10 and was back to making impactful plays against the run. As a run defender, he logged four defensive stops which were the second-most among linebackers for the week, and he was efficient as well with a 19.0 percent run stop rate that was fifth-best at the position. A lot of his plays were made near the line of scrimmage too, as he posted an average depth of tackle of 2.8 yards.
Heading into the contest, the most stops the backer had in a single game was three, but he managed to have five in Kansas City after picking a stop in coverage as well. And he put together a solid performance in coverage too, allowing just three completions on four targets for 20 yards. That was good enough to earn him his best PFF coverage grade of the season at 66.9.
If there’s one saving grace from yesterday’s loss, it’s that defenders who have been quiet or struggled this season put together what could be turnaround performances.
LOSER: Tre’von Moehrig
Yesterday’s game really was a weird one for the Raiders as not only did guys who have struggled this season produce but also players that have been reliable in the past — like Moehrig and Hobbs — struggled.
Las Vegas couldn’t cover Travis Kelce in the red zone and Moehrig was one of the biggest culprits. The safety only gave up three catches for nine yards to the tight end, but two of those three grabs went for touchdowns and the other was a first down. In other words, almost every time Mahomes targeted this matchup the Chiefs were either moving the chains or putting points on the board.
Moehrig also struggled against the run, failing to make a tackle and drawing one flag as a run defender. That led to an ugly 41.2 PFF run defense grade which is the second-lowest single-game mark of his young career.
The silver lining for the 2021 second-round pick is he was fine in coverage against anyone other than Kelce, yielding just one catch on two targets for seven yards and no first downs to wide receiver Skyy Moore and tight end Noah Gray. Moehrig also notched his first pass breakup of the season, so it wasn’t a completely terrible night. But he missed an opportunity to make his presence known around the league had he put together a better performance against the NFL’s best tight end on national television.
WINNER: Jakob Johnson
Fullback is an unheralded position that’s meant for only the grittiest of gritty football players, but Johnson’s performance against the Chiefs was more than worthy of recognition.
Josh Jacobs ended up rushing 21 times for 154 yards which comes out to an astounding 7.3 yards per carry, and a big factor in that equation was Johnson’s blocking. He paved the way for the majority of the night, earning a shoutout from the broadcast booth and his highest run-blocking grade as a Raider at 64.0.
The fullback wasn’t just making an impact in the ground game, he gave the team’s passing attack a boost too. Granted, it was only on four opportunities but Johnson earned a 79.3 pass-blocking grade and didn’t allow a single pressure, extending his shutout streak to 20 games dating back to last season. He also managed to haul in his lone target for five yards and forced missed tackle in the process.
I highly doubt he’ll be a focal point of Vegas’ offense moving forward, but it is nice to know that they have a reliable fullback to call upon when he is needed.
LOSER: Dylan Parham
I hate to make it seem like I’m placing too much weight into one play, but this is the second week in a row where Parham has given up a bad sack. Against the Broncos, it was a stunt where it looked like he just didn’t see and failed to pick up. Yesterday, he was far too aggressive on a pass set and took a poor angle, so he got beat almost immediately off the line of scrimmage and Derek Carr got crunched.
Even beyond that play, Parham struggled in pass protection with his lowest single-game grade in that department at 33.8. That ranks in the bottom 15 for interior offensive linemen in Week 5, and his 93.9 pass-blocking efficiency rating was tied for the eighth-worst. All that means he was getting beat beyond the sack mentioned above, and getting beat quickly.
Obviously, that part of the rookie’s game needs to improve down the stretch but, to his credit, he was solid as a run blocker against the Chiefs with a 66.2 grade. Now it’s just a matter of putting it all together and locking him into one spot instead of having him play three different positions in five weeks will help with that.