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Raiders-Chargers: Winners and losers, it’s finger-pointing season in Las Vegas

At 1-3, the season is starting to spiral out of control

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers
Josh McDaniels
Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

If the NFL was about how hard a team fought, then the Las Vegas Raiders could feel good about themselves after their Week 4 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders battled back from a 24-7 halftime deficit and gave themselves a chance to tie the game late in the fourth quarter.

But all that went for not and this league is about winning and losing, so there’s no room for a feel-good story at 1-3 as the 2023 campaign is quickly spiraling out of control for the Silver and Black.

WINNER: Maxx Crosby

I almost hesitate to list Maxx Crosby as a ‘winner’ because he’s been so good this season that yesterday was just another day at the office for him. But Crosby did manage to lead the team in total tackles with eight which is pretty impressive for a defensive lineman as he managed to be a factor against the run and as a pass-rusher, again.

Crosby ended up having his first multi-sack game of the season with two and what’s even more impressive is he had another that was negated by a penalty, so he was able to hit Justin Herbert three times on Sunday. Also, six out of Madd Maxx’s eight tackles were for a gain of three yards or less as he was flying around and making plays as a run defender, too.

LOSER: Josh McDaniels

Josh McDaniels’ comments after the game just didn’t sit right with me, specifically when it came to Aidan O’Connell. When asked about the rookie’s first start, McDaniels’ began his reply by talking about how O’Connell needs to take care of the football.

While sure, O’Connell’s three fumbles certainly set the team back, and he took responsibility for those during his presser, he was also part of the reason why the Raiders were able to come back in the second half. And again, this was the first time he was even dressed for a regular season game.

McDaniels easily could have said something along the lines of: “Obviously, there are things we need to clean up but Aidan fought through adversity and gave us a chance to win the game.” Instead, to me, the head coach decided to point the finger at the quarterback and his comments were directed toward the man upstairs, essentially telling Mark Davis: “Hey, it’s not my fault we lost.”

Also, while O’Connell’s interception on the goal line was bad, I have to call out the play call there too. Las Vegas essentially ran a screen where Jakobi Meyers was one of two receivers running an actual route and the other receiver was running a backside slant from the opposite end of where O’Connell was rolling to on the bootleg.

That means the coach is basically telling the quarterback where he wants the ball thrown. While it’s reasonable to expect a veteran quarterback like Jimmy Garoppolo or Derek Carr to improvise and adjust when Meyers wasn’t open, that’s a ridiculous expectation for a guy making his first NFL start. In other words, McDaniels told O’Connell where the ball should go and it was a bad play design that the defense was ready for.

I know for weeks I’ve said McDaniels’ job security is safe, but I’m feeling less and less confident about that as each Sunday passes.

WINNER: John Jenkins

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers
John Jenkins
Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

This weekend was John Jenkins’ best game as a Raider so far. He ended with six total tackles which were tied for the second-most on the team and just about all of them were impactful as he logged five defensive stops, according to Pro Football Focus. Against the run specifically, the old veteran managed to come up with four stops which is tied for the second-most among all defensive tackles for the week, heading into Monday Night Football.

Jenkins also had a pretty productive day as a pass-rusher. After only recording one pressure in the team’s first three games of the season, he had three against the Chargers and managed to bat a pass at the line of scrimmage. All of that culminated in his highest PFF grade (69.4) with the Silver and Black.

LOSER: Offensive line

O’Connell didn't help the offensive line and was holding onto the ball too long, making him responsible for some of the Chargers’ seven sacks on Sunday, but the line didn’t exactly do their part to make his job easier.

PFF credited Las Vegas’ linemen with 14 pressures and five sacks, and Jermaine Eluemunor was responsible for half of those with seven pressures and three sacks allowed on his own. That’d be difficult for any quarterback to be successful, let alone one who was making his first NFL start. This was a game where the offense needed their big guys to be at their best with a rookie under center, and they simply weren’t good enough.

Also, while the running game had its moments, Kolton Miller (78.9) and Andre James (65.4) were the only starting linemen to earn a PFF run-blocking grade above 60 as the team averaged just 3.3 yards per carry. Again, just not good enough to win the game given the circumstances.

WINNER: Josh Jacobs

Las Vegas Raiders v Los Angeles Chargers
Josh Jacobs
Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images

With nearly 140 total yards and his first touchdown of the season, it felt like Josh Jacobs was back to his old self in Los Angeles. He had his burst back as Sunday was the most explosive he’s looked all season. The 2022 rushing champ was also elusive, forcing five missed tackles as a rusher and receiver, proving once again that he can be a dynamic weapon with the ball in his hands.

Jacobs ended up being the team’s leading receiver with eight catches for 81 yards and the offense really got going when he was involved in the passing game. If McDaniels learned anything from yesterday’s game, hopefully, it’s that he needs to find more ways to get the ball in No. 8’s hands.

LOSER: Jerry Tillery

I normally wouldn’t pick on someone who only participated in eight plays, but a stupid penalty by Jerry Tillery not only gave the Chargers an extra 15 yards, it got him kicked out of the game and seemed to ignite a fire for Los Angeles.

A mob of powder blue jerseys swarmed Tillery after the play and the Chargers went on to score a touchdown on that drive and their next one to take a 24-7 lead that was too insurmountable for Las Vegas. And this isn’t the first time that an unnecessary play by him has cost the team big. Last year, he was flagged late in the game against the Rams which gave them an extra 15 yards and helped lead to their comeback win.

At this point, Tillery hasn’t contributed much on the field and has made more stupid plays than good ones, begging the question of what he’s still doing on the team.

WINNER: Tre’von Moehrig

Having four winners might seem weird or out of place for a game that was such a devastating loss, but Tre’von Moehrig’s performance can’t go unnoticed. He ended the game as Las Vegas’ second-highest-graded defender behind Crosby with an elite mark of 90.6 via PFF. That’s the best single-game performance of his career and ranks second among all safeties for the week, so far.

Moehrig had an excellent day in coverage, posting the highest PFF coverage grade (88.4) at his position while logging two forced incompletions and his first interception since Week 6 of his rookie season. He also picked up a couple of defensive stops to culminate what was a great outing.