Let’s look at some key aspects to the Raiders’ start of the season.
It has to be the 1-4 start to the season. No one show this coming. This was a 10-7 playoff team last season that added Davante Adams and Chandler Jones. This team was designed to be a playoff team for the foreseeable future with a real Super Bowl window. Yet, the Raiders have shown an inability to close out victories this season.
Biggest good surprise:
Josh Jacobs has been one of the best running backs in the NFL so far. Yes, we all knew he was good, but the way the Raiders’ new brass added to the position this offseason and knowing Josh McDaniels’ history in New England, it looked like it would be a running back committee in Las Vegas. But Jacobs has been a true bell-cow back and he is doing big damage as he is third in the NFL with 490 rushing yards and he has had career highs in rushing in the past two weeks.
Biggest bad surprise:
It has to be Chandler Jones. The Raiders gave the pass-rusher $34 million in guaranteed money. He has no sacks in five sacks and has had consistent pressure. Yes, Jones had a solid game in Kansas City. But he hasn’t given pass-rush star Maxx Crosby (who is having a monster season), the help that he was expected to provide.
Turning point of season so far:
It was being outscored 29-3 by the Arizona Cardinals in the second half and in overtime at home in Week 2. The Raiders became the fifth NFL team to blow a 20-0 halftime lead. In all of their losses, the Raiders just haven’t been able to make the big play. It happened again Monday night when the Raiders lost after taking a 17-0 lead in the second quarter. Until the Raiders learn how to finish, their season is in jeopardy.
Early coaching staff thoughts:
It’s been pretty uninspiring. McDaniels came to Las Vegas known as an offensive guru. But the offense, especially the passing game, has been inconsistent and quarterback Derek Carr hasn’t been as good as he was last season even with Adams. McDaniels has made some questionable in-game moves and the two big collapses are on him. McDaniels is just 12-21 as a head coach and until he turns it around, he will be reminded about that unimpressive mark.
Key to post-bye season:
They must beat the cupcakes. The Raiders’ next six games are all very winnable. Their next six opponents are a combined 11-17-2. Las Vegas can get right back into the playoff hunt. But they have to get out of their own way. The truth is, the Raiders aren’t 1-4 because they lost to a bunch of great teams. Only three of the Raiders’ five opponents have winning records. But now is their chance to right their own wrongs.