The Las Vegas Raiders are looking to bounce back after dropping their season opener in Los Angeles.
Despite against the Chargers last Sunday highlighted by turnovers and missed opportunities on offense, the physicality the Silver and Black played with should be an encouraging sign moving forward. In their home opener, they'll be facing another team looking to turn things around in the Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals lost their first game of the season to the Kansas City Chiefs, 44-21, despite an impressive showing from quarterback Kyler Murray.
Here are a few key matchups to pay attention to heading into Sunday.
Maxx Crosby vs. Kyler Murray
The Arizona Cardinals offense stems off the success of their Heisman-winning quarterback Kyler Murray.
The dual-threat QB has been a walking highlight reel since entering the NFL, with 4,210 total scrimmage yards and 29 touchdowns last season. Murray perhaps could be the most elusive quarterback the Raiders defense will have to face this season.
"Everybody's going to play a part in containing him because he's so dynamic," defensive coordinator Patrick Graham said of Murray. "I mean, whether it's the design plays from the get out in space, or the loose plays, he's a real problem. He's a real dynamic player."
But if anyone is up for the task, it's Maxx Crosby. Crosby is coming off a great showing against Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense with 10 total tackles, seven quarterback pressures, two quarterback hits and a 92.9 PFF grade.
The last time Crosby faced a dual-threat quarterback as top-tier as Murray was Week 1 last season in Lamar Jackson, another Heisman winner. In that game, Crosby had six total tackles, five quarterback hits, two sacks and won AFC Defensive Player of the Week.
The Raiders vs. the turnover ratio
A big reason behind the Raiders not leaving Los Angeles with a victory was turnovers.
The Silver and Black didn't play the cleanest football last Sunday, as Derek Carr threw three interceptions against the Chargers. After the game, Carr said he believed he was "way too aggressive" in the way he played, forcing the ball into places at times.
"There's a lot that goes into passing the ball obviously; reading the coverage, making a decision on where you want to go with the ball, and then the actual mechanics of throwing it the way you want to throw it. Any number of those things could deter us from having success," Head Coach Josh McDaniels said Monday. "The deep one to [Davante] Tae [Adams] was a little underthrown on that one. Same thing with the one down the middle to [Darren] Waller. Again, that was more of a decision of how to throw it than underthrowing. He put more zip on that one as opposed to touch, and those are decisions that happen in a football game.
"Like I said, we're going to learn a lot from this because there are hidden opportunities within possessions – offensively, defensively – to create a different situation."
As for the defense side of the ball, they couldn't create any turnovers themselves. While Nate Hobbs forced a fumble, the ball went out of bounds. Although the Raiders defense were effective in getting stops in the second half, closing in on the turnover margin could've been a momentum shifting component for the team.
"Turnovers are a big indicator on who's going to win or lose the game," said Graham. "I think our focus from Day 1 is we want ball hawks on the defense – whether it's punching out the ball, high pointing the ball for interceptions, causing tips. That's a main focus."
Darren Waller vs. Budda Baker
After lining up against an elite safety in Derwin James last game, things won't get easier for Darren Waller this week.
The Cardinals will likely rely heavily on Budda Baker to try and neutralize the Raiders tight end. Baker has been a key piece to Arizona's secondary, earning four Pro Bowl selections and three All-Pro selections since he was drafted by the organization in 2017. Last season, Baker set a new career-high in interceptions (three) and tied his career-high in pass deflections (seven). In the Cardinals' Week 1 loss to the Chiefs, he led the team in total tackles with 13.
Baker will certainly have his hands full with Waller and the other Raiders receivers. The addition of Davante Adams didn't alter Waller's production in the Raiders' offense, as he finished with 79 yards on four catches against the Chargers.
Head inside Intermountain Healthcare Performance Center to view the best photos from the Silver and Black's Wednesday practice.