It’s a very terrible morning for the Las Vegas Raiders. As Monday dawned following Week 3 the Raiders discover themselves as the one 0-3 workforce within the NFL, lagging behind within the AFC West, and with some main soul looking out to do.
It wasn’t way back that the Raiders have been being earmarked to make noise, and rightfully so. A playoff workforce a yr in the past, Las Vegas stocked as much as the moon for 2022 with a splashy signings and trades designed to mitigate their largest weaknesses. The workforce wanted cross rush, so it spent $51M on Chandler Jones, it wanted a prime vast receiver, so Vegas traded a 1st and 2nd spherical decide for Davante Adams. Hell, the workforce was even aggressive find a coach, convincing Josh McDaniels to return to the AFC West after years of flirtation with returning to the top teaching life.
Now, three weeks in, it’s a rattling mess. Jones has but to register a sack, Adams is on tempo for 1,071 yards (his lowest full-season whole since 2016), and McDaniels seems fully out of his depth — simply as he did in 2010 with the Broncos. If all this wasn’t unhealthy sufficient, the remainder of the workforce is taking part in all the way down to this degree. Derek Carr is struggling within the new Raiders’ offense, Josh Jacobs isn’t capable of carry and elevated load at operating again, and the Darren Waller breakout so many predicted, effectively, it simply hasn’t occurred.
That’s an entire lot of issues going improper , and the nexus of all that is McDaniels. When you assume that’s unfair, then say “hello” to Josh on the subsequent household reunion, as a result of it’s a must to be associated to the man. Let’s be actual: Hiring McDaniels was at all times a leap of religion. There’s a cause why McDaniels was a perennially sizzling commodity earlier than groups determined to go in different instructions. There was prevailing knowledge in a number of soccer circles that he was a fraud, however McDaniels was a splashy rent, one for identify recognition, and the Raiders love making splashy teaching hires.
I yearn to have the self-confidence McDaniels does in relation to his job. The person is devoid of impostor syndrome. He really believes he’s the second coming of Invoice Belichick, a soccer genius, and no person goes to say in any other case. It’s this sort of bravado that led to McDaniels turning down head coaching jobs as he waited for the proper second, and strolling right into a playoff workforce in Las Vegas was, on paper, the right state of affairs for an oft-critiqued coach who will without end be linked to deciding on Tim Tebow with a 1st spherical decide —ruining the Broncos for years in consequence.
The worst half about all that is that I had a sense this would possibly occur. McDaniels to the Raiders obtained one in all my lowest grades when I rated each new head coaching hire back in February, and on the time this was my feeling:
“I don’t like this. Las Vegas was a playoff workforce already, and I believe McDaniels likes to get cute only for the sake of getting cute. He’s inherited an already established workforce, and I can’t assist however assume he’s going to do one thing to mess with it.”
Nicely, guess what of us? He’s messing with it. This goes far deeper than merely integrating Davante Adams into the offense — McDaniels has fully modified the elemental parts of the offense, and the workforce is completely not higher for it. There are a number of key stats that inform the story right here:
- Carr’s supposed air yards have dropped from 8.1 to 7.6 from 2021 to 2022
- Hunter Renfrow’s depth of goal has decreased from 6.5 yards to three.1 yards from 2021 to 2022
- Solely two Davante Adams (10.8) and Darren Waller (10.6) have a mean depth of goal better than 10 yards this season, in comparison with 4 receivers a yr in the past
- The Raiders are blitzing twice as typically on protection as they have been a yr in the past
These offensive points are of specific concern. All the rationale behind buying and selling for Adams was that he might stretch the sphere and provide a deep risk, which might then open up YAC lanes for Renfrow and Waller — besides that isn’t taking place. As a substitute of Renfrow catching the ball and making a fast first transfer towards linebackers, the offense is giving the field a 3 yard cushion to pursue, which is destroying his productiveness. In the meantime Waller, who’s at his greatest catching behind linebackers on the 7.5-9 yard depth vary, is as an alternative being requested to go deeper — and combat safeties and nickel corners for the ball, which isn’t his recreation.
There are groups within the NFL who’re utilizing fast, YAC-based passing to super success, however the Raiders don’t have the personnel for it. Renfrow is just not Tyreek Hill, he’s not Cooper Kupp — he can’t catch the ball behind the road of scrimmage and make one thing out of nothing. Making an attempt to make use of him this manner is a waste of his capacity, and it’s leaving him on an island whereas Adams and Waller run depth.
This lack of personnel understanding is going on on protection too. Vegas is being pointlessly over-aggressive with its linebackers and safeties on blitzes, which is ok when you’ve got the corners for it — however the Raiders don’t. The infinite blitzing isn’t producing stress (the workforce has 2.0 sacks on the season), and the secondary is struggling to cease the cross (rating twenty ninth within the NFL in cross protection).
Every little thing about this Raiders workforce is worse in 2022, and McDaniels has a hand in all of it. The gamers deserve higher, the followers deserve higher, and Mark Davis is getting exactly what he deserves for making this silly hiring.
It goes with out saying that the Raiders are a loser for the week.
Welcome to the 2022 NFL, the place every thing is made up, and the factors don’t matter. When you thought the weirdness was going to finish with 2021, don’t fear as a result of it has nothing on this season thus far — and I’m in love.
The NFL has at all times been this paragon of parity. A shining instance of sports activities executed “the proper method,” however this at all times felt labored as hell. Certain, we bought some random week-to-week outcomes, however not this degree of constant, unattainable to foretell weirdness.
Right here’s one bizarre flowchart that sums up the primary three weeks:
- The Vikings beat the Lions
- The Lions beat the Commanders
- The Commanders beat the Jaguars
- The Jaguars shut out the Colts
- The Colts beat the Chiefs
Inside all this mess you’ve gotten the Eagles, who beat the Vikings, Commanders, and Lions. I believe meaning Philly is the very best workforce within the NFL? Or perhaps it means nothing? Who is aware of!
Winner: The Miami-freaking-Dolphins
The Dolphins are atop the AFC East, and I’d like to gush about them extra — however the entire “placing our concussed QB again on the sphere and blaming it on a again harm” has me feeling a bit of icky.
Loser: Tom Brady
It isn’t typically Brady is ever on this aspect of the ledger, however right here we’re. It’s not likely something No. 12 did, or didn’t do on Sunday — however relatively your complete technique of returning to the NFL this season.
I do know all of the rumors about Brady going to the Dolphins labored his return from retirement a bit of, however this entire season is just not going effectively. The Buccaneers are fighting Todd Bowles as head coach, and I don’t actually care that this workforce is 2-1. They beat an imploding Cowboys workforce in Week 1, a hapless Saints in Week 2, after which misplaced to the Packers — who’re a shadow of themselves in 2022.
Tom might have been kicking again, incomes a boatload as an announcer, and never getting hit into oblivion every week solely to limp to an eventual NFC South Championship (as a result of the division is ass) earlier than getting bounced within the playoffs.
Tampa Bay simply isn’t good this yr, and Tom had the possibility to hold it up and exit on prime after 2020.
Winner: Jalen Hurts
Right here’s a man who’s taking part in out of his freaking thoughts proper now, and it’s fairly superior. When you haven’t watched Hurts play in 2022 you’re actually lacking out, as a result of it’s like he’s a brand new participant. We went from a quarterback in a “show it” yr, to extraordinarily untimely MVP discuss — hell, he seems like one in all solely a few dudes who might push Josh Allen this yr.
Hurts was functionally excellent towards the Commanders on Sunday. He threw for 340 yards, three touchdowns, no interceptions — operating for one more 20 yards, only for good measure. Hurts is flourishing in Nick Sirianni’s offense, as many hoped he would possibly, and the 3-0 Eagles seem like every thing the Radiers wished they’d be in 2022.
Winner: Followers who love seeing a ball get punted right into a butt
Loser: Justin Fields
Man, I hate dumping on a child like this, however we’ve bought to start out asking some questions right here. I perceive that the Bears have a foul offensive line, an offense that may’t let him shine, and that they’re significantly missing receiving weapons — however we will’t use that to fully hand wave away how terribly Fields is taking part in proper now.
Chicago by some means received on Sunday regardless of Fields having the worst QB recreation of the week. Grasp this stat line within the Louvre, as a result of ache might be artwork too:
8-for-17, 106 yards, 0 TD, 2 INT
These two interceptions have been unhealthy, actually unhealthy. If it wasn’t for Khalil Herbert obliterating everybody in his path en path to 157 dashing yards, the Bears would have been blown out.
Winner: The Panthers protection
We won’t give credit score to Baker Mayfield or Matt Rhule round these components, however you’ve actually gotta watch this Panthers protection as a result of they’re enjoyable as hell.
Okay, I take that again, no person ought to willingly watch a Carolina Panthers recreation in the event you don’t have a rooting curiosity — however my basic level type of stands. This protection is aggressive, it’s fast-paced, it’s enjoyable as hell, and it’s loaded with devices and trickery.
The Panthers have a lower than zero % probability of successful towards the Saints on Sunday if it wasn’t for his or her protection, and truthfully it is perhaps top-of-the-line models within the NFL — it’s only a disgrace the offense is so abysmal to go together with it.
Winner: Trevor Lawrence, and actually every thing the Jaguars are doing
Every little thing is developing roses in Jacksonville, and it begins with Trevor Lawrence. The change to Doug Pederson is paying off large time, and Lawrence is responding in a serious method to the construction the workforce has now.
Subsequent to Jalen Hurts, no person is extra improved thus far this season that Lawrence, who has now cemented why he was the No. 1 general decide so many had pegged for greatness. The child is slinging the ball round, throwing to eight completely different receivers on Sunday, it’s opening up the bottom recreation for James Robinson and Travis Etienne, and it’s truthfully stunning.
None of this might actually be doable with out the protection, which is completely smothering everybody it comes throughout. There was nothing the Chargers might do towards this unit on Sunday, and Devin Lloyd is already wanting like one of many largest steals within the draft.
Don’t sleep on this workforce anymore, as a result of they’re actually rattling good — and might be making a number of waves quickly.