LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — A quick review of the Raiders’ offseason moves: Wide receiver Davante Adams was pretty doggone good in the opener, and it appears edge rusher Chandler Jones will be a positive force on defense.
But the offensive line and the secondary, sore spots last season, continued their struggles in Sunday’s 24-19 season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Chargers in clash of AFC West rivals.
The Chargers got six sacks — Derek Carr five times and Adams once on a trick play — revealing holes in the O-line, and quarterback Justin Herbert passed for three touchdowns, exposing flaws in the secondary.
Carr also threw three interceptions, victimized frequently by pressure from the Chargers’ defense. So often the Raiders’ quarterback didn’t have enough time to seek a second or third option on a pass play.
The quarterback shouldered much of the blame for the unit’s so-so output, saying that he forced the ball on several throws. “I’ll be better about making too many aggressive decisions when I don’t have to,” said Carr, who also fumbled twice, with teammates recovering both. “That’s really what it came down to.”
On Tuesday, offensive coordinator Mick Lombardi tried to soften criticism of the O-line, saying the rotation of seven players “competed really hard.” He also noted that playing against two elite rushers in the Chargers’ Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack was “definitely not an easy task.”
As for the defense, it stiffened in the second half, allowing just one touchdown. Edge rusher Maxx Crosby graded out particularly well, according to Pro Football Focus, the data supplier to NFL teams.
Crosby had seven pressures, five hurries and a pair of quarterback hits and was especially tough on the Chargers’ offense in the second half. With Jones, one of the better edge rushers in the league over the past several years, playing alongside him, Crosby looks poised for a season of consistent hounding of opposing passers.
As for Adams, he had 10 catches for 141 yards, including a 3-yard touchdown.
“We did some good things,” Carr said in his postgame exchange with the media. “There’s also some things that him and I, we were just talking about in the locker room, the way I see it, the way he sees it, and we’re trying to make that better. So yeah, we had production, but I think that we can be better, and so does he.”
Adams said he was just doing his job. “That’s what they brought me here for — to be a big part of this offense and to help move the ball and put points on the board,” he said. “That’s my job. That’s what I’m ready to do. I’m a volume-type guy. I’m always ready for that.”
But against the Chargers, Adams’ production and the one-two D-line punch of Crosby and Jones wasn’t enough. At crunch time, the Raiders failed to make plays.
The defense allowed allowed 8.2 yards per pass attempt, fourth worst among teams in the opening week. When needed neither the rush nor the secondary seemed capable.
And when the Raiders took possession with 3:30 remaining, with Carr and the offense in position for a final, game-clinching drive, the quarterback was sacked on back-to-back plays.
So close, right? So what, said Raiders coach Josh McDaniels. “This game is not a game of what-ifs. It’s a game of what happened.”