It’s the final weekend of November, and for the Seattle Seahawks that sees the team return from the bye week and the Las Vegas Raiders come to Lumen Field in a matchup of teams that will finish the 2022 season undefeated against the Denver Broncos and Russell Wilson. Yes, the Raiders enter the game with an ugly 3-7 record, but that record consists of having gone 2-0 against the Broncos and 1-7 against the rest of the NFL. That is an accomplishment which is noteworthy for both Seattle and Las Vegas in what has been an otherwise unforgettable year for the Raiders.
Joining Field Gulls this week to preview the matchup is Matt Holder of Silver and Black Pride to discuss some of the issues the Raiders have faced in the trenches on both sides of the ball, as well as fans thoughts on the coaching situation. Getting right into the discussion, here are the questions and answers.
1. The Josh McDaniels era in Denver started well before devolving into disaster. The McDaniels era in Las Vegas, has started horrifically, especially on the tail of a 2021 season that saw the Raiders make the postseason for just the second time since the Super Bowl loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Where do fans stand in terms of their opinion on McDaniels? Is there optimism for the future or are fans already prepared to move on?
Most Raider fans are pretty down on McDaniels. As you mentioned the Raiders were a playoff team last year and added talent in the offseason, but have regressed with one major change on the sideline. I’m not sure how much optimism there is for the future but McDaniels has been given several votes of confidence by owner Mark Davis, so I think most people have accepted that there aren’t going to be any changes. Though I can’t say how confident most fans are in him.
2. The Seahawks and Raiders both drafted defensive linemen with their first pick in the 2019 draft, and neither player has started a game since 2020. For L.J. Collier it’s been a combination of injuries and poor fit in the system that have combined to keep him off the field. What happened with Ferrell, who was so highly touted coming out of Clemson?
Ferrell was always viewed as a reach with the fourth overall pick because he’s not a great athlete and that’s been his biggest problem in the NFL, especially as a pass rusher. He’s pretty strong and stout against the run so he’s been able to carve out a role as a role player, but that’s not what you’re looking for in a top-five pick. It’s become a cliche that Clelin Ferrell is a solid player and it’s not his fault that he was drafted so high, but he definitely hasn’t met expectations.
3. In what will likely come as a surprise to many Seattle fans, after moving on from Tom Cable as the offensive line coach, Derek Carr is being pressured at the highest rate of his career. What has been the issue for the offensive line this season? Has it been injuries? Inexperience? Simply poor play? The Seahawks had effectively no pass rush to speak of against the Bucs in Week 10 (zero sacks, one quarterback hit and six pressures on 29 Tom Brady dropbacks), so will it be the Seattle pass rush or the Las Vegas offensive line that wins in the trenches Sunday?
The offensive line was one of their issues last season and everyone knew it was one of their biggest needs in the offseason, but they barely addressed it. The most capital they spent on a lineman was a third-round pick on Dylan Parham, who has been good, but they have always had a massive need at right tackle too, and that situation blew up in their face when Brandon Parker went on injured reserve during training camp and Alex Leatherwood got cut. Right guard Alex Bars has struggled too and same with center Andre James, so they just don’t have the guys up front.
4. The Las Vegas pass rush has been the Maxx Crosby show and then a whole lot of nothing, even after adding Chandler Jones in free agency. How has that been the case? Is it scheme? Misusing players? Just not having the guys necessary to get to the opposing quarterback?
I think a lot of it is personnel. They were hoping to get more out of Jones and that’s been the biggest disappointment and one of the biggest reasons they have gotten such little production from the group as a whole. Defensive tackle is kind of similar to the offensive line in that the Raiders needed to address it but didn’t do much outside of signing Bilal Nichols, who has also struggled. I think the scheme plays a factor in that too. Defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has even taken some of the blame for it but to me, the biggest issue is they don’t have great pass rushers, and the people they were relying on to take the pressure off Crosby just aren’t.
5. The Seahawks are 3.5 point favorites via DK as of writing. Is that a line you feel the Raiders can cover? Or do you foresee an upset in the making where Las Vegas sneaks away from Lumen Field with a win?
I’m honestly surprised this line isn’t higher. Las Vegas just isn’t good enough this year to beat a good Seattle team in Seattle. 31-20 Hawks.
And now all that’s left is for this pair of former AFC West division rivals to take to the field and play the game.
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