3 Ways Raiders Offense Must Improve Against Cardinals in Week 2
Josh McDaniels and the Las Vegas Raiders kicked off the season with a disappointing 24-19 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
It wasn't the kind of result that should lead to early-season panic, though. There are plenty of teams that won't hold Justin Herbert and the Chargers offense to just 24 points, and there were some positive takeaways for Las Vegas.
However, the Raiders offense was not explosive as some hoped after they added Davante Adams to the fold this offseason.
The good news is there is still plenty of time to get back on track. With the new addition and a remade receiver room, it should come as no surprise that the Raiders weren't in midseason form.
Instead, they mustered just three first-half points before putting up 16 in the second half.
Here's what the team needs to do take that momentum even further in Week 2 against the Arizona Cardinals.
Get Hunter Renfrow Involved Early
The addition of Davante Adams is exciting and he certainly lived up to the hype, but the greatest benefit of adding him—in theory—is the impact the attention he draws can have on everyone else.
Specifically, a player such as Hunter Renfrow is even more difficult for defenses to account for while offering extra help in defending the former Green Bay Packers star.
It didn't quite play out that way in Week 1, though. While Adams saw 17 targets, catching 10 for 141 yards and a touchdown, Renfrow only saw six. What's more concerning than the number itself is that the shifty receiver didn't see a target until late in the third quarter.
The Cardinals pass defense was atrocious in Week 1. Granted, it was going against Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs, but the Raiders have a better receiving corps.
Adams is a known target hog. But to maximize the passing attack, Carr needs to spread the wealth early to stretch the defense so he can go to Adams in high-pressure situations.
Derek Carr Needs to Relax
Derek Carr conceded he went into Sunday's game looking to do a little too much.
"We did too many good things and I was way too aggressive," he told reporters. "We came in with an aggressive mindset, especially with all the weapons that we have. That's on me, the decisions to be too aggressive in certain moments."
It's hard to blame him. Any quarterback would be excited to put up big numbers with Adams joining the team, Renfrow returning and a fully healthy Darren Waller involved.
But the beauty of having those kinds of weapons is that you don't have to force anything. That wasn't the case on Carr's three interceptions. They all came in scenarios where he was trying to force the ball when he could have taken an easier throw.
The 31-year-old was fifth in the league in intended air yards per target, per Next Gen Stats. That's not a bad thing in a vacuum, but when it was clear he was trying to force big plays, it's a number that needs to come down against Arizona.
Carr needs to simply distribute to Adams, Renfrow and Waller and take what the defense gives him. Given his history, it's something that will get better after Week 1.
Lock in an Offensive Line
It's pretty standard for NFL teams to come up with a five-man offensive-line unit and stick with them. The Raiders did not stick with that plan on Sunday.
According to PFF, Vegas played seven different players along the O-line and utilized three different combinations. It allowed Derek Carr to get sacked five times, so there's still a lot to clean up but there were some positives.
The Raiders did a good enough job in the run game that the team averaged 4.9 yards per carry. Josh Jacobs led the way with 57 yards on his 10 carries.
If they are going to take the next step, though, they need to find a grouping they like and stick with it. For instance, they started Dylan Parham at right guard but took him out for a few series before putting him back in.
The 23-year-old ended up as one of the highest-graded rookies in the league in the first week. He didn't give up a single pressure on 26 pass-blocking snaps, per PFF.
The Raiders offensive line has been a concern since last season. The best way forward is to pick a group and allow them time to develop and grow together.