Despite dropping a heartbreaker to the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium, there are plenty of positives from the game that Josh McDaniels and Co. can build on to help the Raiders get back on track. The defense played well enough to win despite surrendering 155 rushing yards to a team that prefers to throw the ball around the yard.
Offensively, the breakout performance by Josh Jacobs as a multi-purpose back could help the Raiders expand their offense to enable their best players (Jacobs and Davante Adams) to make a greater impact on the game. Although it was hard for the unit to get going with a rookie at the helm, the Raiders' individual and collective talent is good enough to win games.
After taking some time to review the film and reflect on the game, here are some notes and observations from a former NFL scout.
Khalil Mack strikes again
Mack was an unstoppable force off the edge with six sacks and a pair of forced fumbles in a vintage performance that reminded the football world of his dominance.
Against his former team, Mack flashed strength, power and an old-school array of moves that kept blockers guessing at the line of scrimmage. Moreover, the former All-Pro's savvy as a pass rusher made life tough for Kolton Miller and Jermaine Eluemunor on every snap. Mack's relentlessness and persistence are exactly what you would expect from a former all-star who knows how to take the quarterback down.
Considering nine of Mack's 14 sacks with the Chargers have come against the Raiders, the Silver and Black must find a way to handle him to win against their division rival.
Josh Jacobs and the running game going
The 2022 NFL rushing champ has yet to top the 100-yard mark this season despite receiving at least 17 rushing attempts in three of the Raiders' first four games. Though it is common for workhorse runners to endure slow starts while the offensive line and perimeter players are developing chemistry, the running game was expected to carry the team with a big, physical frontline, paving the way for a power back with nifty feet and exceptional vision.
The production has yet to meet the expectation, with Jacobs averaging just 2.7 yards per carry and fewer than 50 rush yards per game (41.5). The slump continued against the Chargers, with Jacobs tallying just 58 yards on 17 carries. Although he added another 81 yards on eight catches, it seemed as though the lack of production from the running game forced the Raiders to put too much on the plate of a rookie quarterback making his first start.
Until Jacobs can find creases at the line of scrimmage and produce a handful of explosive plays on the ground, the Raiders' lack of a running game may keep them from gaining control of games and protecting a defense with a time-consuming approach that limits the total number of possessions in each game.
Aidan O'Connell shows promise in his NFL debut
Despite the numbers and final result, the Raiders might have found an intriguing QB2-plus in the former Purdue standout. O'Connell showed toughness, grit and competitive stamina in a performance that was far from perfect for the quarterback or his offensive teammates.
Although the rookie completed 24-of-39 passes for 238 yards with an interception, he had the Raiders in a position to tie and possibly win the game with a little over two minutes left. Sure, the interception to Asante Samuel Jr. was a backbreaker, but O'Connell's willingness to bounce back from taking sack-after-sack at the hands of Khalil Mack and Co. will encourage the coaching staff that their young quarterback has the intangibles to play in this league.
In addition, the quarterback's pinpoint throws from the pocket are precisely what coaches covet in a traditional pocket passer. While he will need to quicken his internal clock and utilize more of the options featured within each concept, O'Connell's knowledge of the offense highlights his work ethic and preparedness.
With more repetitions and experience running with the No. 1s, the fourth-round pick could develop into a quality starter in a system that suits his talents as a playmaker.
View the best photos from the Raiders' Week 4 matchup against the Los Angeles Chargers at SoFi Stadium.