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Raiders-Chargers: 5 things we learned from Las Vegas loss to LA

That was a tough start to the 2022 season for Derek Carr

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers
Derek Carr
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

This was a much anticipated start of the regular season for the Las Vegas Raiders, and in the end, it was a disappointing one as the Josh McDaniels era started off with a 24-19 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

Let’s look at some keys to the game:

Carr struggles:

It wouldn’t be accurate to say Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr was awful Sunday. He had some moments (especially with new toy Davante Adams), but he was definitely not consistently sharp . He misfired multiple times and underthrew some balls. He was intercepted three times and poor pass protection didn’t help him. After the game, Carr shouldered the blame (he always does) and said he was too aggressive. it’s a work in progress with Carr and McDaniels and he will settle down. But the turnover problems aren’t going away. He had had multiple turnovers in six of the past seven games. McDaniels has some work to do with his QB this week.

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers
Davante Adams
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Adams show:

It didn’t take long for Adams to make his presence be felt. Carr hit his Fresno State teammate for a first down on the team’s first offensive play of the season.

Then they extended that first series on a 21-yard play on third down and 17 and then Carr hit Adams inside the Chargers’ 10-yard line to setup a game-tying field goal for his third first down of the series and he had 54 yards in the series. Adams got hot to start the second half as well. He ended up with 10 catches for 141 yards with a touchdown.

He’s going to be a major weapon all season long. Now, the Raiders need to get tight end Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow more involved. They combined for seven catches. But every week is a new game plan based on the opponent.

Offensive line is a jumbled mess:

The Raiders’ offensive line had been a major story in the preseason and we got some clarity Sunday. Rookie Dylan Parham started at right guard over Lester Cotton. He joined left tackle Kolton Miller, center Andre James, right tackle Jemaine Eluemunor and left guard John Simpson. However, Cotton replaced Parham in the second quarter. Rookie Thayer Munford replaced Eluemunor in the third quarter, Expect this kind of line movement until the Raiders get fully comfortable on the offensive line. After the game, McDaniels suggested the rotation may continue. He said there was some good things done by the unit, but Carr was harassed often and was sacked six times, including three times by former Raiders’ star Khalil Mack. The unit didn’t run block well, either, as Las Vegas had just 64 yards on the ground. We all saw this coming and the Raiders need to address this issue immediately.

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Chargers
Maxx Crosby
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Defense was up and down:

Honestly, if we told you the Chargers would score 24 points, you’d think it would be enough for a Las Vegas victory. Patrick Graham’s unit adjusted solidly after halftime and only allowed seven points in the final 30 minutes. But Chargers’ quarterback Justin Herbert did more than Carr as he completed 26 of 34 passes (playing most of the game without star receiver Keenan Allen) for 279 yards and three touchdowns. The Raiders had issues in coverage and the star pass-rush tandem of Maxx Crosby and Chandler Jones didn’t do enough. The Raiders didn’t have a sack and that’s disappointing, especially after they committed so much money to Crosby (who played well as always) and Jones this offseason. Not all was lost on defense as the Raiders played pretty well against the run and got off the field when it needed to in the second half. But there are some tweaks that need to be made.

Lack of penalties encouraging:

The Raiders couldn’t keep up their no-turnover trend from the preseason (they were the first team in the NFL in 11 years not to turn over the ball over in the exhibition season), but they did keep the low-penalty trend going. Las Vegas was penalized just three times for 11 yards. The Raiders were penalized 13 times in four preseason games with just a combined three yellow flags in the last two games. So, McDaniels and his coaching staff are doing a good job in this area. That is something to build upon as Las Vegas looks to rebound from a tough start to the season.