There’s some much needed win in Silver & Black sails these days. The Las Vegas Raiders dialed up energy is — unsurprisingly — resulting in increased victories. And this past Sunday’s 27-20 win over the Los Angeles Chargers is yet another example.
Instead of wallowing is self pity when there was not only a sudden-change possession but an interception return for a touchdown by the Bolts, the Raiders went to work and whittled away at the Chargers. And when the tide turned and the desert marauders took the advantage, the celebration and jubilation was there. There was no severe dip. But there was the heightened energy when it was needed.
For Raiders head coach Josh McDaniels on victory Monday, doling out credit where it’s due was the name of the game.
“They deserve a lot of credit for, I think, maintaining the urgency and/or heightening it relative to the energy that we’ve tried to have every day,” McDaniels began, “I’ve always thought our team came ready to work and play and practice and work hard. So, that hasn’t really been a big change to me. But when you don’t have success, there’s just naturally a challenge — human nature, you can let your guard down or start to doubt yourself or bring less energy.
“And again, I credit our players. They’ve have done a tremendous job of not doing that. Our staff has done a great job of being consistent with them and just trying to teach band continue to grow. And like I said last night, they’ve seen a little fruit for their labor.”
The fruit was certainly dehydrated to oblivion in the first half of the Raiders season as the team was rife with mental lapses and inability to play as a cohesive unit. Against L.A., Las Vegas dug itself into a hole with a pick six but the defense rose to the occasion to harass and limit quarterback Justin Herbert. When one of the three phases faltered, the others would buoy the team.
Now at 5-7, the McDaniels’ team is playing the type of football he’s wanted to see.
“I thought our defense really played hard and really competed. We played a lot of man coverage yesterday and we asked those guys to do that, and I thought they did a decent job of trying to stick on those guys and the rush and some of the pressures got into the pocket and tried to affect the quarterback,” McDaniels said. “I thought we competed hard in the kicking game. I thought we definitely did some good things, offensively. Penalties way down, no negative runs, no sacks. So, there was a lot of good things.
“For me, it was probably one of our best as a group complementary football wise, for sure.”
It’s been a long time coming, but veteran pass rusher Chandler Jones came alive getting after the quarterback in Sunday’s win by dropping Herbert three times for sacks and hitting the signal caller a total of five times. The hat trick gives Jones 3.5 sacks on the season and he paced the Raiders’ pass rush by using his frenetic energy and long arms to swarm Herbert.
“I think I’ve mentioned it a number of times, Chandler has done a lot of good things,” McDaniels said. “And just the number that everybody is focused on is the sack number, and I understand that. And I thought he just played with great effort; he was relentless. I thought they executed a few things in the pass rush that we’ve been working hard on. Again, I think all of that is a complementary factor, the inside rush, the outside rush, the coverage. If one breaks down, then a lot of times you lose an opportunity to create pressure on the quarterback. So, I think we’re learning how to work together a little bit better as the season has gone on.”
A critical component of Las Vegas’ trio of victories is the offensive line. Once a maddening musical-chairs type group where experimental rotations were the norm, the group of (from left to right tackle) Kolton Miller, Dylan Parham, Andre James, Alex Bars, and Jermain Eluemunor is humming.
“For us to come out of the game with no sacks and no negative runs, no penalties, says a lot about what that unit is starting to do together,” McDaniels said. “Communicate, try to eliminate any issues before the ball is snapped, playing tough and physical in the running game and then trying to keep everybody off the quarterback. They just keep showing up and doing that week after week after week. And, again, nothing’s perfect, but their effort and their intentions and the way they work together has been really good, and they’re getting better.”
Did you notice safety Roderic Teamer holding the ball for Daniel Carlson’s kickoffs this past Sunday? There was a rhyme to McDaniels’ reason.
“Yeah, they clarified a rule a couple of weeks ago that you’re permitted to hold the ball on the top of the tee now. And so, you got a good kicker, you can add hangtime to the kick,” McDaniels said. “And I think you saw Daniel use that to our advantage yesterday. And as long as you don’t kick it into the end-zone, extra hangtime, put it at the goal line. We’re further down there and it gives the cover team a better opportunity to make some tackles inside the 25-yard line, which I think we did a decent job of that yesterday. But that’s the rules. So, they clarified it a couple of weeks ago and if it helps us gain some kind of advantage, then we’ll try to do that.”