The 2022 season has not unfolded as the Raiders expected, but there are plenty of lessons to be learned from the losses this year. Although the 2023 team will benefit from those teachable moments, the foundation for a bounce-back campaign is in place as the team wraps up the season.
Given some time to review and reflect on the team's Week 17 loss to the San Francisco 49ers, here are some thoughts and observations from a former NFL scout…
Jarrett Stidham is a baller
When Josh McDaniels decided to name Stidham the starter for the remainder of the regular season, the football world did not know what to expect from the third-year pro with just 48 career pass attempts on his resume.
Despite his familiarity with McDaniel's scheme from their time together in New England, no one could have expected the young gunslinger to fare well against the league's top-ranked defense, particularly after watching the 49ers throttle experienced quarterbacks up and down their schedule.
After watching Stidham complete 23-of-34 passes for 365 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, it's understandable why the Silver and Black wanted to give the youngster a chance to throw the ball around the yard. As an aggressive deep ball thrower, Stidham took advantage of favorable matchups on the perimeter to stretch the defense with long tosses to Davante Adams and Mack Hollins.
In addition, the young passer attacked open windows within the 49ers' zone coverage with touch and timing throws at intermediate range. With Stidham intent on exhausting every option within the route concept before taking the checkdown, the super-sub forced the defense to defend every inch of the field from sideline to sideline and end-line-to-end-line.
The 49ers had to scale back on some of the "bully ball" tactics that worked on their previous opponents. Moreover, they couldn't suffocate the Raiders offense and surrendered 500-plus scrimmage yards on the day.
While the performance certainly was not perfect, as evidenced by his two interceptions, Stidham's stellar play showcased his potential in the Raiders offense.
Davante Adams is still No.1
Do not let the numbers fool you; Adams is still the best wideout in the league. No disrespect to Justin Jefferson's and Tyreek Hill's outstanding play, but the Raiders WR1 is an unstoppable force on the perimeter, and no one has been able to contain him with or without assistance in coverage.
Adams issued a reminder to the football world on Sunday with a seven-catch, 153-yard effort that also included a pair of touchdowns. The perennial All-Pro complemented his spectacular numbers with a couple of jaw-dropping catches that showcased his superb hand-eye coordination and ball skills. In addition, Adams flashed his ability to win "50-50" balls utilizing his athleticism and leaping ability to snag balls along the boundary.
With few defensive backs capable of matching the All-Pro's talent and skills, the No. 17 continues to dominate opponents on the perimeter when given enough opportunities to make his mark on the game. After posting his eighth 100-yard game of the season, Adams' consistent production while facing various tactics suggests the veteran still knows how to win on the perimeter. In a league where production and performance matter, Adams' consistent dominance separates him from others at the position.
Daniel Carlson is an unappreciated all-star
The Raiders' star placekicker flies under the radar, but he is quietly one of the most prolific scorers in the league. While the veteran did not earn all-star accolades for his work this season, the sixth-year pro deserves recognition for his emergence as a scoring machine.
Carlson ranks second in the league in field goals made (32) behind perennial all-star Justin Tucker but boasts a better conversion rate (91.4% compared to 85%) and is more efficient from long range (10-of-12 on 50-plus yard attempts; Tucker converted 8-of-13 kicks from 50-plus yards). With Carlson also surpassing Tucker in extra point conversion percentage (97.1% to 96.8%), the Raiders kicker deserves his flowers as arguably the premier specialist in the league.
As the most efficient and effective kicker from short range (extra points) and long distance (50-plus yards), Carlson is a prolific point scorer who expands the red zone for the offense. Although kickers are rarely viewed as valuable players, the Raiders' kicking specialist is a difference-maker who is worthy of recognition during awards season.
View team photographer Matt Aguirre's best photos from Allegiant Stadium's catwalk during the Las Vegas Raiders' Week 17 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers.