The Las Vegas Raiders’ effort against the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday came up a bit short — eerily similar to some of Derek Carr’s passes. While the Silver & Black were left thunderstruck by a determined AFC West foe in a 24-19 defeat, all is not lost. There’s plenty of teach tape to come from Week 1 and opportunities to improve.
Let’s start with the aforementioned underthrows.
One in particular stood out as it showcased both what could have been and an exemplary play by Chargers cornerback Asante Samuel Jr. (have to give credit where credit is due). Carr and the Raiders offense had 1st & 10 at the Chargers’ 44-yard-line with 13:20 left in the fourth quarter. Carr took the shotgun snap, scanned the horizon and fired a deep ball Davante Adams’ way. The pass, however, loss velocity and fell short of the intended target but Samuel snared the ball for the pick. A disappointing end to a drive that saw tight end Darren Waller catch two passes for 33 yards to begin the drive with Las Vegas trailing Los Angeles 24-13 at the time.
Derek Carr forces one to Davante Adams downfield and Samuel picks it off.pic.twitter.com/ZnjrQ1El6i— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) September 11, 2022
Replay showed the nuances of the play. Veteran cornerback Bryce Callahan (No. 23) was trying to make an adjustment before Adams ran right by him. The Raiders wide receiver streaked downfield and put his arm up as he passed the 30-yard-line indicating he was wide open. But watch Samuel Jr. (No. 26). He leaves Hunter Renfrow as he sees Carr throwing the ball, sprints and catches up to the dying duck for the interception. A big play not to be for the Raiders and a crisis averted for the Chargers.
Carr said in the postgame press conference his interceptions were a byproduct of him being too aggressive. He was under duress while provided an adequate pocket at times — a tell tale sign of a starting unit that didn’t garner a single preseason snap. On the Raiders next offensive series after the interception by Samuel Jr., Callahan picked off Carr’s pass to Hunter Renfrow, marking the third of a trio of INTs. The Raiders QB wasn’t able to step into the throw due to pressure from Khalil Mack and the underthrow was snatched by the Bolts.
“I look at (the loss) as something that’s encouraging,” said Adams. “We beat ourselves today, really. Not taking anything away from (the Chargers), they’re a really good team. But we turned the ball over the way that we did today and we still had the opportunity to go down there and win. It says a lot about you as a team, fighting through adversity and our defense did their thing in the second half.
“We’ve just got to find a way to take care of the ball a little bit better and go down there and win. I see it as something we can feed off of moving forward.”
Teach tape, aplenty, indeed.
Let’s hit the quick slants:
—The Raiders rotated the offensive line to find the best grouping. Kolton Miller (left tackle), John Simpson (left guard), and Andre James (center) played all 58 offensive snaps while Jermaine Eluemunor (40 snaps), Dylan Parham (35), Lester Cotton (23) and Thayer Munford (18) each earned time on the right side of the offensive line.
—The Mack Attack was on full display in SoFi. The former Raider racked up three sacks and six total tackles to go along with four quarterback hits to go along with the game-sealing strip sack. Mack was at the forefront of a Chargers defense that dropped Carr a total of five times.
—Adams was targeted 17 times by Carr on Sunday. This accounts for nearly 46 percent (45.9) of Carr’s 37 attempts. Adams did produce an impressive 141 yards and a touchdown on 10 receptions. That target-fest is similar to the 19 targets Waller drew in the season opener last season.
—Nate Hobbs is quickly becoming CB1 for the Raiders. The primary slot cornerback for Las Vegas last season saw 21 snaps on the perimeter after notching just 26 of those snaps his rookie season in 2021. Hobbs finished with nine total tackles (two for loss), a forced fumble, and a crucial pass deflection.
—Johnathan Abram didn’t leave the field for the Raiders. The hard-hitting safety played 100 percent of the defensive snaps (67) with Hobbs coming in second (66). Abram, not surprisingly, led the team in total and solo tackles (12 and nine respectively).
—Divine Deablo led the Raiders linebackers in snap count. He was on the field for 63 plays (94 percent of the defensive snaps) while fellow linebackers Jayon Brown (44 snaps) and Denzel Perryman (26) were much more limited. Deablo finished with seven total tackles, Brown with five and Perryman with three. Perryman did miss time due to an ankle injury.
—Speaking of injuries, during the game Raiders cornerback Anthony Averett (thumb), safety Tre’Von Moehrig (hip), wide receiver D.J. Turner (ankle), Brandon Bolden (knee), Andrew Billings (undisclosed) all left due to ailments. James was listed with a concussion. Averette was placed on injured reserve on Monday. Any of those players miss extended time and it’s quite concerning.