"The good: the different targets being used on offense and the defense.
The bad: too conservative of play-calling with the lead in the fourth quarter."
It truly has been astonishing to me how much trust we are seeing Derek Carr have in his receivers.
At the beginning of the season, most would've predicted that Darren Waller would resume his role as the solo superstar of this Raiders' pass-catching unit. Yet he's currently second on the team in receptions and third on the team in receiving yards. Also not to forget the he missed the Eagles game with an ankle injury, and Foster Moreau stepped up in his place like a boss. From what I've seen so far this season, this could be the most dangerous offense that has surrounded Carr and Interim Head Coach Rich Bisaccia in their four years together.
"It's certainly a talented group, everyone from the receivers to the tight ends and then obviously you know what we've done with the running backs," Bisaccia said after the Eagles win. "Certainly, Josh [Jacobs] and Jalen [Richard] had two big catches in the game, both over there on the boundary which are tough catches and tough throws. And Kenyan [Drake] has been a good receiver for us, so it is a talented catching group for us. As far as Darren being out, it happened kind of so late in the week that he ended up not being able to play for us that I just think Foster has been in that role before and just a couple more balls came his way.
"But I think they all understand that Derek is going to share the ball around according to what he sees from the defense, and it is a talented group and hopefully we can just keep improving."
As for the conservative play-calling in the fourth quarter, it is dangerous to become complacent with a lead. However, the Raiders have found themselves battling back from 14 point deficits in four of their first seven games. So sometimes, it's best to just come out strong, and maintain steady consistency – like they have done the past two games.
"Good: Raiders defense is legit.
Bad: Josh Jacobs' health concerns.
Ugly: The O-line so far (hopefully they keep improving)"
The Raiders defense is very legit.
Yannick Ngakoue wasn't lying this offseason when he said, "I think Maxx [Crosby] and myself are the best duo that's going to come hit the scene." The two have been stellar, combining for nine sacks, 74 quarterback pressures and 29 quarterback hits. They have also both won an AFC Defensive Player of the Week award this season.
It hasn't solely been a two-man show for the defense though, as they're also getting key contributions from Casey Hayward Jr., Solomon Thomas and Denzel Perryman – who's currently leading the NFL in tackles. The Silver and Black defense leads the league in quarterback hits and are in the top-10 in pass deflections, sacks and takeaways.
"It starts in practice with Coach [Rod] Marinelli and the way he pushes us as a D-line," said Ngakoue. "And also Coach Gus [Bradley] as a whole unit. He demands greatness and that's what we try to push for each and every day. And when you have guys like Maxx Crosby, Solomon Thomas, Quinton Jefferson – the list goes on and on – things like that can happen."
As for Josh Jacobs' health, he pointed out that he wants to continue to see Kenyan Drake thrive in tandem with him and for the sake of his own health. The past two games, the offense has gotten Drake more involved, with 103 rushing yards, 49 receiving yards and three total touchdowns in that stretch. Drake was brought in this offseason to help alleviate some carries from Jacobs and keep him fresh – and it seems that the offense will continue to trend in that direction.
"I just try to go out there and make the most out of my opportunities," said Drake. "Oly's [Greg Olson] been putting me in a great position to make plays obviously with Josh kind of going down...
"I just want to go out there and be a spark each and every time I'm on the field. Making sure I do my job, if I have the ball or if I don't have the ball."
Another thing that will keep Jacobs healthy is the play of the offensive line that yes, did have early season struggles, but are now definitely improving. They have not allowed any sacks in their past two games, and have played a huge part in the Raiders offense averaging 434 yards of total offense over their past two games. It could be a bit presumptuous to consider the offensive line the ugly part of the season so far.
The young unit seems to be finding their footing against defenses and communicating better with one another.
View team photographer Matt Aguirre's best photos from Allegiant Stadium's catwalk during the Las Vegas Raiders' Week 7 victory against the Philadelphia Eagles.