Matt Holder from Silver and Black pride answered five questions I asked regarding the upcoming game, and he provided some great insights from how things are faring in Las Vegas. Many thanks to Matt for this awesome discussion, and cheers to a division rivalry Chargers-Raiders week!
1) Over at BFTB, we were really studying up on tight ends in the draft since it was a position of need for us this offseason (albeit, one that didn’t get addressed!). Michael Mayer was a personal favorite of mine; I was jealous when he fell to you in the 2nd! What is the dynamic in the tight end room, and how is Josh McDaniels using Austin Hooper and Michael Mayer to replace Darren Waller?
Hooper has been the starter at tight end to begin the year but Mayer has gotten more and more reps every week. They’ve been working on the rookie’s blocking for a while and have been using him in the running game quite a bit. He even had a few reps against T.J. Watt in pass protection last week and held his own.
However, neither Mayer nor Hooper has been much of a factor as pass-catchers, combining for five targets, four catches and 42 yards, per Pro Football Focus. A big part of that has to do with Jimmy Garoppolo’s early season struggles as Mayer has been open but hasn’t gotten the ball much with only one reception in three games. So, the Raiders haven’t been able to replace what Darren Waller brought to the table so far.
2) After leading the league in rushing yards last year, Josh Jacobs is starting slow this season, totaling 108 yards in three games. What’s the key to getting the Raiders’ rushing attack back in its groove?
The offensive line has to start blocking better in the running game. Against Denver, they were solid at staying in front of their man but didn’t generate much movement and then got destroyed by the Bills as that’s why Jacobs finished with negative rushing yards in Buffalo. According to PFF, Jacobs has 99 yards after contact so far this season, meaning he’s only had about nine yards of breathing room. Until the offensive line starts playing better, it’s hard to see the rushing champ being able to defend his crown.
3) Jimmy Garoppolo reuniting with Josh McDaniels made plenty of sense, but we know how difficult it is parting with a franchise quarterback. Was Raider Nation ready to part ways with Derek Carr? How has Jimmy G been received?
It’s been a mixed bag. Carr was a pretty polarizing player where some fans put him on a pedestal as the best quarterback in franchise history and others wanted him gone years ago. Garoppolo’s arrival was kind of the same story; some in Raider Nation were excited about him reuniting with McDaniels while others wanted to see the team go after someone in the draft. However, Jimmy G has been bad to start the year with six interceptions in three games so I think the majority of the fanbase is pretty down on him right now.
4) After spending most of his career with the Patriots playing in the slot, Jakobi Meyers went to the Raiders and took over 80% of his snaps lined up wide in his first two games. How happy is Raider Nation with his performance and immediate chemistry with Garoppolo?
Meyers has been one of the few bright spots on the team to start the year. He’s only played in two games after missing Week 2 with a concussion, but he came out of the gates firing in the season opener with nine catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns, out-pacing Davante Adams in all three categories as the team’s leading receiver. Meyers had a pretty good outing versus the Steelers too with seven grabs for 85 yards, so the reviews on him have been pretty good so far. He’s been pretty good at creating separation and doesn’t turn 27 until November, so he could easily be a building block for the offense moving forward.
5) How confident is Raider Nation in their defense through the first three games of the season? DraftKings Sportsbook has the over/under for points at 47.5, and with how porous our defense has played through three games, the “over” is always looking pretty tempting! Which direction would you opt to go for this game?
The Raiders’ defense was expected to struggle coming into the season and while they haven’t been great, the offense is actually the bigger problem. Las Vegas hasn’t scored more than 20 points this year, including a game against the Denver Broncos who just had 70 points put up on them. So, I think the bigger factor in the total this week will be if the Chargers’ defense can turn it around, and they have a good matchup to “get right” as Jimmy G and the Raiders offense can’t seem to consistently string drives together and put points on the board. I like the under this week.
Thank you against Matt! Bolts From the Blue, how do these answers make you feel about the game Sunday?