It’s been a good week for Raider Nation after the Las Vegas Raiders (1-3) finally clinched their first win of the season with an even performance in a 32-23 win over the Denver Broncos (2-2) in Las Vegas last Sunday .
The Raiders benefited from better offensive play and a more even attacking game plan implemented by head coach Josh McDaniels. McDaniels, who took quite a bit of heat over his game prompting and game planning during the Raiders’ terrible start, finally went to his bread and butter on offense – running back Josh Jacobs. Jacobs had a career-high 144 yards on 28 carries and two scores.
The Raiders don’t get a break as they travel to Kansas City for an old-school AFC West rivalry game with the Chiefs on Monday Night Football. Las Vegas meets the NFL’s second-highest-scoring team in Kansas City, which doesn’t seem to be missing too much former wideout Tyreek Hill – who was traded to Miami for the offseason.
Also See: NFL Offensive Rankings – Who Are the Top 20 Offenses in the League After Four Weeks?
In Week 5, the Raiders will need their stars to shine again, but who’s primed for a great performance and who’s still trying to find “them” this season? Here’s our look at aspiring players and those you’re wondering what’s going on.
Las Vegas Raiders players with rising stocks
Not only did Jacobs have a career day at Rushing Yards, but he orchestrated much of the action himself. Jacobs is healthy and not used as much as anyone would like. Jacobs capitalizes on McDaniels’ wake-up call with a more balanced run/pass attack. Pro Football Focus has Jacobs second in the NFL with an overall score of 87.2 — only behind Nick Chubb. Jacobs is seventh overall in carries (70) and fifth in yards (335). The importance of him, the Raiders’ running game and the right offensive approach will be crucial Monday night in KC.
Moe Moton, my co-host of the Silver and Black Today podcast and columnist for Sportsnaut, and I would like to give a shout out to Robertson’s big day, but we have to say congratulations to the young player. Appearing on our show last week, Robertson spoke about how it “clicked” for him this season and how he was hungry to show what he can do. While no one claims Robertson is a Pro Bowl candidate like teammate Nate Hobbs, his game just keeps getting better and in coverage he has shown significant growth. He still has a lot to do but it’s hard not to root for a guy like him who builds confidence and lends a helping hand when teammates are injured.
Carr didn’t put up big numbers for the fantasy groupies, but he kept his offense moving and again used his legs to extend plays and even grab first downs. Carr, moving out of the pocket with a patchwork offensive line in front of him, is a key for the Raiders to move the ball. Unlike Weeks 1-3, Carr ran the ball against the Broncos and kept his team going with positive momentum. I think Carr worked well in this role as the game master. He’s more comfortable in the McDaniels system and will need to shine at Arrowhead on Monday night if the Raiders are to stage the upset.
As good as a job, with rookie Dylan Parham filling in for the injured James for the past two weeks, the return of the veteran lineman gave the Raiders some mature stability they’ve lacked in recent weeks. James was very good at protecting Derek Carr (75.2 degrees in PFF pass blocking) and anchoring the line against the Broncos shed a light on how much his presence means. Now, if McDaniels can agree on the remaining three offensive linemen, the Raiders could settle ahead of time, and that would be something to cheer about.
Raiders talent with declining shares
Is Alex Bars bad at left defense? Not exactly. Is Alex Bars good at left defense? Not exactly. Simply put, he’s not the long-term answer and the Raiders need to think about who will be playing there for most of this season. Bars have been bottom of the Raiders this season with a PFF of just 35.3. He’s underperforming in pass blocking (51.2) and run blocking (40.4) and has been really struggling to see time for the last two weeks. You can’t be mad at the guy, he’s played several positions in orienteering and he’s just doing his best, but that’s not good enough now or in the long term. Look for bars to be a backup again when the Raiders settle on their front five.