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Raiders need a win over Chargers to keep pace in AFC West

Las Vegas is in second place, but a loss to Los Angeles may keep them in division cellar

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Las Vegas Raiders
The Las Vegas Raiders and Los Angeles Chargers go head-to-head this Sunday in an AFC West matchup that will determine the hierarchy atop the division.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Las Vegas Raiders are in dire need of some complementary football in all three phases of the game — offense, defense, and special teams. But where the Silver & Black need it most, first and foremost, is between coach and players.

Just ask Davante Adams.

After his pointed comments in the post game media scrum in the locker room after the Raiders 23-18 loss to the visiting Pittsburgh Steelers, Las Vegas’ star wide receiver continued to drop some jewels during his Wednesday media availability.

“For the people that didn’t understand the message, it was not a shot or directed at anybody in the front office here,” Adams said referring to his post game comments this past Sunday. “That was about us as a football team, and the players that go out there and control things and have the most control of what happens and the outcome of games. I think it’s really cowardly and small thing to take shots at coaches when we do have a lot to do, the most to do, with what happens ultimately out there on the field.”

Coaching and player execution go hand-in-hand in terms of a team’s success or failure. Any lapse in those areas — even with elite players and accomplished play callers — portends to bad results. At 1-2, the Raiders are a direct product of that. The coaching and play calls can be criticized just as much as how players are going out and doing their jobs.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders wide receivers Davante Adams (17) and Jakobi Meyers (16) are the clear-cut favorite targets of quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.
Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Adams hits the nail on the head — emphatically so again — with his comment. Call out the coaching, but the players are the ones out there that much execute to the best of their ability. And outside from certain players on the Raiders, Las Vegas as a whole is leaving plenty to be desired. All this despite the team confidently saying it’s learned the lessons from film, worked to correct the issues, but continue to lack the synergy that’s required to win.

“Yeah, I mean it’s not happening to the degree that we want it to happen. And I definitely agree with that idea. That’s what you’re after,” Adams said when broached with the process of winning starts on Monday and carries throughout the week and into game days. “That’s what all the best teams do. It’s not just about the Sunday or the Saturday before the game, cleaning things up. You have to be locked in and attentive to all the things that go into a winning week. And we’re trying to do things the right way, but there’s just another level that I know we can tap into. So that’s basically where I’m at right now.”

Las Vegas must tap into it.

Yes, the team heads into Week 4 in second place in the AFC West standings. But the Raiders face the Los Angeles Chargers, a team that is also 1-2 and looking to climb the division ladder and keep pace with the leading Kansas City Chiefs (2-1). To keep pace in the division, the Raiders need to win. Star pass rusher Maxx Crosby said as much in his post game media scrum after the Week 3 loss.


Dropping Sunday’s game to the Bolts means a 1-3 mark and, for as bad as the winless Denver Broncos (0-3) have looked, they meet the atrocious Chicago Bears and a victory would boost them up to 1-3. That would mean Las Vegas falls into the division cellar looking up and it’s a fall the team may not be able to climb up quickly. The Raiders four-game slater after the Chargers game includes: Back-to-back home games against the Green Bay Packers and New England Patriots, and two road trips at the Chicago Bears and Detroit Lions. The records for those four squads are 2-2, 1-2, 0-3, and 3-1, respectively, and are going to fluctuate before the matchup with the Raiders.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Las Vegas Raiders
Las Vegas Raiders running back Josh Jacobs has been meet behind or near the line of scrimmage by defenders. As such, the Raiders’ ground game is rendered ineffective and sluggish.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

And with how Las Vegas is playing combined with how the team performs against the Chargers, it’s difficult to have an optimistic outlook on the Silver & Black’s chance in their next four games after this Sunday.

A victory against the Chargers not only gets the Raiders back to .500 at 2-2, it gives them much-needed momentum heading to a dual home and road slate in the next four matchups. A loss and a 1-3 record compounds matters.

Josh McDaniels may have been talking specifically about the run game in his Friday press conference, but what he said can be applied to every aspect of the football team.

“I mean, you’re always close. Honestly, in the run game, a lot of times you’re one block away or one finish away, or one step away, from a two-yard gain becoming a 20-yard gain,” the Raiders head coach answered when asked if the run game is close to getting where it needs to be. “I think that all of us are seeing that every ounce of effort and energy and finish and detail will make a difference. When we run the ball well, that’s the case, and when we haven’t, that’s also the case.

“So, it’s a team thing. Everybody’s involved in it. We all got to do our job, and if we do, we’ll do it well.”

Las Vegas would do well to win this Sunday. And the one of the sure-fire ways to do that is to have complementary football between coaches and players. Execution is the name of the game against the Bolts — plain and simple.