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Raiders’ Week 3 Focus: Execution

Players need to consistently make plays when Las Vegas clashes with Tennessee Titans

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham echoed head coach Josh McDaniels sentiment of players executing the team’s game plan. Making plays will determine if the Raiders get their first win this Sunday against the Tennessee Titans or if the team starts 2022 0-3.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

A day after both head coach Josh McDaniels lamented the need for player execution, his Las Vegas Raiders coaching staff and an elite offensive weapon echoed the sentiments.

“Reason why they found success is their players performed. They did a good job. Guys made plays for them,” Raiders defensive coordinator Patrick Graham answered when asked Tuesday if his defense being on the field so much in the second half of the 29-23 overtime loss to the Arizona Cardinals last Sunday affected the way his defenders performed. “So, I mean, again, whether we’re out there for whatever many plays it doesn’t really matter. We all have a job to do. It always comes down to performance and they did a good job and made plays when they needed it, and they won the game.”

The natural follow-up question for Graham regarding the Cardinals’ ability to convert a long-developing 2-point conversion that saw Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray scramble and scamper in for the score. Again, the Las Vegas defensive play caller went right back to execution.

“It just came down to executing and they executed better,” Graham said. “Their player made a play, and we just go back to the drawing board and be ready to go next time because it’s not going to be the last time we have a two point play this season. So, we’ll ready to go.”

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Las Vegas Raiders
Arizona quarterback Kyler Murray (1) and the Cardinals made play after play en route to dropping the Las Vegas Raiders 29-23 in overtime last Sunday.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ditto for Raiders offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi. Like Graham, he expects Las Vegas’ offense to put the 0-2 start in the rearview and focus on the Tennessee Titans — a squad that’s also winless after the initial two games of the 2022 season. Hence the Raiders Week 3 focus being execution (and with that, complementary football — something that hasn’t happened consistently for the McDaniels-led Silver & Black).

“Tennessee we’re going to play this week is coached very well. Coach (Mike) Vrabel does a great job. They have very good players — (Jeffery) Simmons, (Kevin) Byard — they’re very good and it’s going to be a battle this week,” Lombardi noted. “It’s going to be a tough test that’s going to come down to the end. We’re going to have to execute in the later portion of the game to make sure we win the game.”

Yet, perhaps the most impactful insight came from Raiders wide receiver Davante Adams. While he didn’t partake in Sunday’s postgame press conference after the team’s loss this past Sunday, Adams dropped a jewel in Wednesday’s media session.

“It’s on everybody to think that it’s your job to do your job,” he said plainly. “And if you do and if everybody has that mindset — you may call me crazy, but I think if any team, no matter what team it is in this league. If everybody has it on their mind that their job on every given play, they’ve got to give their all, whether they play amazing or whatever. If you play as hard as you can on any given play, I think any team in the league will win the game against whoever. If every single person buys into that that way.

“But that’s what separates teams in this league is how disciplined can you be and how many plays can you make over and over and not get tired of doing the right thing, time after time. That’s what we’re working towards.”

For one half last Sunday, the Raiders showed they have the competence to execute the game plan. That’s a positive sign as it’s not like the team can’t put together a strong showing replete with complementary football. What escapes the Raiders’ grasp though, is the ability to execute, make plays, and play team-football for four quarters. That’s a must-happen if Las Vegas has intentions of going into Tennessee and getting a victory against the Titans.

While Raiders coaches and players downplayed the need for a sense of urgency Wednesday — to a man the group said the sense of urgency isn’t heightened but stays the same level despite the 0-2 start — there must be an inkling of desperation. It’s only human nature. And Las Vegas will see the same hint of anguish on the opposite sideline this Sunday.

Again, like the Titans, the Raiders aren’t finger pointing and taking the holistic “it’s everyone’s responsibility to do their job and get better” mantra. But that’ll only last so long. A visit to the win column must come soon or the whole “we’re learning/we need to get better” schtick will be come hackneyed and hallow.

“We’re 0-2 right now. There’s been improvement, I will say that. Am I happy? No. Because we haven’t won,” Graham said. “When we win, that’s when I’m happy, and even then, I’m slightly happy. We have some things to work on. I got to do a better job coaching and we’ll keep working on as it as we keep going through this process.”