After riding the high of a Week 1 victory, the Las Vegas Raiders got humbled on Sunday with a 38-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills. The Raiders jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on the game's first possession but got out-scored 38-3 the rest of the way as the Bills proved that they’re a tier ahead of the Silver and Black.
Las Vegas did have a couple of bright spots but, unfortunately, a bad beatdown means there are more winners than losers for this week’s column.
WINNER: Marcus Epps
To me, Marcus Epps was the best defender on the field for the Silver and Black in Buffalo. While that may not mean much when the unit gives up 38 points, Epps only surrendered 13 yards in coverage and recorded a couple of defensive stops, per Pro Football Focus, with some big hits to prevent a first down and/or score.
He earned a 70.9 coverage grade from PFF that ranked 12th among safeties on Sunday, and he managed to rack up six total tackles with no misses on the afternoon. Through two weeks, the former Eagle has been the team’s best free-agent signing with a 76.3 PFF grade that’s 12th-best among safeties league-wide.
LOSER: Run Blocking
Las Vegas had 15 carries for 55 yards, an average of 3.7 yards per rush, against the Bills with a jet sweep from Tre Tucker accounting for 34 yards and Zamir White picking up 22 yards on four touches in garbage time. So, removing those runs, the offense ran the ball 10 times for negative one yard against a team that gave up 172 yards on the ground the week before.
Josh Jacobs ended up posting a career-low negative two yards and had pretty much nowhere to run all game. To add some context, PFF credited Jacobs with 11 yards after the first contact so he had to fight just to get back to the line of scrimmage time after time and that’s an indictment on the offensive line.
Through the first two weeks of the season, the Raiders rank 20th with a 58.7 PFF run-blocking grade as a team—which honestly feels generous—so a switch needs to get flipped or something has to change for the offense to get going.
WINNER: Kolton Miller
While the Silver and Black’s offensive line as a whole played poorly, Kolton Miller was far from the problem. He led the unit with a 73.8 mark as a run-blocker and that’s 13th-best among offensive tackles heading into the Monday Night Football doubleheader.
Miller also got the job done in pass protection with zero pressures surrendered and an impressive 88.3 grade in that department. The latter is third-best among his peers, and he’s currently one of 12 offensive tackles to give up one or no pressures through the first two weeks of the season.
LOSER: Greg Van Roten
As mentioned above, the Raiders struggled to move the ball on the ground and the majority of the offensive line has work to do, but Greg Van Roten was one of the worst culprits.
He got pushed into the backfield on a handful of plays and it's disappointing because this was a revenge game for him as he had a chance to show the Bills what they’re missing by letting him go. Instead, Van Roten confirmed the team’s decision and struggled against his old teammates.
To the veteran’s credit, he was good in pass protection by not giving up a pressure and earning a top-five make as a pass-blocker (86.6). But again, the Raiders need someone to step up in the running game if their offense is going to score more than 17 points in the coming weeks.
LOSER: John Jenkins
On the other side of the ball, there wasn’t much Las Vegas was able to do to slow down Buffalo’s rushing attack. The Bills ran for 183 yards and 5.2 per carry, as rushing lanes were open pretty much all game.
Defensive tackle John Jenkins was one of the biggest problems as he recorded a sub-par PFF run defense grade (54.9) and only had two tackles. While yes, he’s more of a gap-filler, meaning a lack of production is somewhat expected, his grade highlights that he’s struggling to hold ground in the trenches.
Also, Jenkins hasn’t recorded a defensive stop through the first two weeks of the season, so the tackles he is making aren’t impactful and his average depth of tackle is four yards past the line of scrimmage right now. The veteran was brought in to help the team’s run defense and so far, he’s not doing his job.
LOSER: Jakorian Bennett
I hate to pick on Jakorian Bennett because he’s a rookie who has only played in two games, but both outings have been pretty rough in coverage. Against the Bills, he was targeted six times, allowing six completions for 84 yards and a touchdown, bringing his season total to 11 targets, 10 completions (90.9 completion percentage), 123 yards and a score.
It’s expected that the rookie is going to go through some growing pains early in the year, but right now, his 45.7 PFF coverage grade ranks 88th out of 97 qualifying cornerbacks. David Long Jr. got some reps on Sunday and allowed just 10 receiving yards, so the coaching staff might have to make a change in the starting lineup if Bennett doesn’t turn things around in a hurry.