3 Takeaways from Raiders' Week 2 Loss
This is not how the Las Vegas Raiders envisioned starting the 2022 season. A hard-fought loss to the rival Las Angeles Chargers in Week 1 was disappointing but not disastrous. Sunday's late collapse against the Arizona Cardinals, however, leaves Las Vegas in a 0-2 hole with the Tennessee Titans on tap for Week 3.
Critical miscues by quarterback Derek Carr (three interceptions) sunk the Raiders against L.A. Those mistakes can be corrected. The defense melted down against Arizona, and that's indicative of a more glaring problem.
If Las Vegas can't protect a 16-point fourth-quarter lead, it's going to have a hard time making a push for the AFC West crown.
The Raiders still had a chance to win in overtime before Hunter Renfrow's fumble was returned 59 yards for a touchdown. However, the fact that Las Vegas even allowed Arizona to force an extra inning is concerning.
There's a lot of football left, and Las Vegas can get back on track by beating Tennessee. However, there are issues that must be addressed immediately. Here's what we learned from Sunday's 29-23 loss to the Cardinals.
Davante Adams Can't Disappear from the Offense
The Cardinals came into Sunday's game knowing that wideout Davante Adams could be a problem.
"He is a special player," Cardinals defensive coordinator Vance Joseph said, per Tyler Drake of Arizona Sports 98.7 FM. " ...Those kind of guys win their 1-on-1s. If you’re 1-on-1 for 10 plays, he'll probably win seven."
Arizona did an excellent job of containing Adams, however, which gave them a chance to come back on Sunday. Adams caught a touchdown on Las Vegas' opening drive but caught just one pass the rest of the way.
Adams' finished with just two receptions on seven targets for 12 yards and the score. That's an unacceptable stat line for the Raiders' newest offensive playmaker.
This isn't only because the Raiders gave up a lot to acquire Adams, which they did. It's about Adams reuniting with his college quarterback, Carr, in Las Vegas. The two seemed to rekindle their chemistry in Week 1, hooking up for 10 receptions, 141 yards and a touchdown. Their rapport evaporated against Arizona, though, and the two rarely seemed to be on the same page.
That's an offensive issue that can't continue. Adams has to be a reliable go-to target in critical situations. Otherwise, the Raiders will keep seeing results like the one on Sunday.
This Pass Rush Isn't as Advertised
Adams wasn't the only big-name addition Las Vegas made in the offseason. The Raiders also signed pass-rusher Chandler Jones to a three-year, $51 million deal in free agency. On paper, he and Pro Bowler Maxx Crosby looked to be one of the conference's better pass-rushing duos.
Through two weeks, however, we haven't seen it. Cardinals quarterback Kyler Murray was sacked only once on Sunday, a week after Las Vegas failed to take down Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert.
Now, Murray is a mobile quarterback who can escape pressure and make plays. However, he had far too much time in the pocket to execute plays like a ridiculously long 21-second two-point conversion in the fourth quarter.
The pass rush was supposed to be a defensive strength for the Raiders, but it isn't playing out that way. Through two games, Jones has zero sacks and two quarterback pressures. Crosby has been better, with five pressures and one sack, but hitting home has been a problem.
Coupled with a secondary that has surrendered 549 yards and four touchdowns through two weeks, the pass presents an obstacle in front of Las Vegas' playoff hopes. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has to figure out ways to put more pressure on opposing passers.
Josh McDaniels Has to Be Better
This loss is on head coach Josh McDaniels as much as it is on any of his players. The Raiders took a 20-0 lead into halftime and then lost. The offense scored a mere three points after the break, while the defense disappeared in the final quarter.
Simply put, the Cardinals made the necessary halftime adjustments, while McDaniels did not.
"In the first half, we played the game basically the way we wanted to," McDaniels said, per Levi Edwards of the team's official website. "We lost control in the second half for sure."
This can't happen. It's McDaniels' job to ensure that his squad is playing a full four quarters of good football. It's his responsibility—especially considering his offensive background—to find ways to get players like Adams involved.
Upon being hired by Las Vegas, McDaniels admitted that his failed (not quite) two-year stint as the Denver Broncos' head coach was a learning experience. He knew the Xs and Os of the game but not how to manage a roster.
"When I went to Denver, I knew a little bit of football. I didn’t really know people and how important that aspect of this process and maintaining the culture and building the team was," McDaniels said in his introductory press conference.
While McDaniels may indeed be better equipped for the team-building responsibilities of being a head coach, Sunday's loss was a failure in the actual coaching department. If the Raiders hope to be a playoff team, McDaniels has to be better.