Raiders: winners and losers in week 4 against the Broncos

It may take four weeks, but the Las Vegas Raiders finally landed their first win of the season after beating the Denver Broncos 32-23 yesterday. The Raiders finally managed to put together a full game, as the defense stopped when needed and the offense was able to respond when the Broncos scored. Players on both sides of the ball played during the contest, so we will have a bonus winner this week and we will have fewer guys to call losers.

WINNER: Josh Jacobs

Josh Jacobs
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sport

Jacobs has been playing well all season, finally getting the volume of touches against Denver to put up some jaw-dropping numbers.

Coming into play, he had 42 run attempts for 192 yards – 4.6 yards per transport – and no touchdowns, and never had more than 20 total touches in a game. On Sunday, he hit the rock 28 times for 143 yards – 5.1 yards per clip – and scored two goals on the ground. Hence, Jacobs entered the matchup averaging 14 carries per game and more than doubled his run-per-game yard average with double the carries. He also set a career record for a single game with his running total.

But perhaps the most significant statistic the four-year-old pro got yesterday is that he forced eight bad tackles as a runner, bringing his season total to 22. Yesterday’s score currently ranks first among all running backs and quests. last is the second best behind Nick Chubb.

Jacobs also did the job in the passing game. He has received five passes on six targets for 31 yards, with four of those five receptions for the first downs. In pass protection, he launched an unpressurised stoppage on nine opportunities to earn a pass blocking grade of 83.1 from Pro Football Focus.

If I had to guess, we’ll see more games like this from JJ moving forward.

LOSER: Red Zone Attack

Towards Sunday, the Raiders’ troubles in the red zone were frustrating and unfortunately, even after the big win, they didn’t show much promise in the scoring area. They had no problem getting down there, getting the ball inside 20 in five of their 11 drives, however, they only hit twice.

A 40 percent touchdown rate in the red zone won’t be enough against top teams like Kansas City, which plays in Las Vegas next week. By way of comparison, the Chiefs are in fourth place in the league with a TD conversion rate of 73.7 percent within the 20, while the Raiders are ranked fourth worst in the league with 44.4 percent of the year. This is something Josh McDaniels will definitely be focusing on in practice this week as three points are basically a failed offensive possession against Patrick Mahomes.

WINNER: The Fresno State Connection

State of Fresno v State of San Jose

Derek Carr, In front of Adams
Photo by Brian Bahr / Getty Images

During the week leading up to the game, a lot has been done about the connection between Derek Carr and Davante Adams. Some claimed Adams was open and Carr simply wasn’t pulling the trigger, while others said teams are doubling down on the team, but the overall message was quite similar; Raiders need to get more ball from their highest target. And that’s exactly what they were able to do against the Broncos.

Adams led the team with 13 targets, nine catches and 101 yards, and that was the first game he has been pitched more than 10 times since the season opener. This represented roughly 38.2% of Carrs’ pitches, 42.9% of his completions, and 53.7% of his yards in the afternoon. This is the kind of market share people expected when the former Bulldogs teamed up this offseason. Additionally, the quarterback added seven carries for another 40 yards on the ground, which is something else fans have been asking recently.

Now, McDaniels, Carr and the rest of the offense want to find the balance to involve more of the other threats they receive, as Mack Hollins was the second catcher with just 33 yards. But it was still nice to see Adams and Carr come back to the same page, and with what Jacobs did on the field, the attack is starting to show the sins of becoming a “take your poison” type of unit.

LOSER: Kolton Miller

Yesterday was a game to forget for Miller, but one that he may constantly remind him on the Internet …

Going into the game, he had conceded six pressures on the season – two in each game – but ended up losing four only on Sunday. This led to his lowest pass blocking efficiency score of the year (94.9), which is currently 46th out of 61 qualifying offensive tackles for the week. Fortunately, this has been his strength for most of his career and the Broncos have a couple of good shooters ahead like Bradley Chubb and Randy Gregory so there’s reason to believe Miller will recover and be fine.

However, he struggled as a blocker and this was a problem throughout the first month of the year. He posted a blocking degree of less than 59.0 PFF and was responsible for at least one tackle for loss. What’s more problematic, however, is that his score for the season is now 51.7, which is 62nd out of 76 qualifiers in the position. This obviously needs to change as we move forward.

But what will make Sunday truly live in infamy for the five-year veteran was a moment more hilarious than negative. The Raiders called an action pass for a deep shot down the field but Miller very clearly thought it was a running call as he was about 10 yards beyond the scrimmage line looking for a linebacker to get past the lines. The problem was that they were all losing coverage …

With the pass incomplete, Denver ended up declining the penalty, so no damage, no foul, but that game could live on the internet for a while.

WINNER: Amik Robertson

NFL: Denver Broncos to the Las Vegas Raiders

Amik Robertson
Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sport

With Nate Hobbs in concussion protocol for most of the week and Rock Ya-Sin sidelined for injury, the depth of the Vegas cornerback would be tested yesterday. This meant Roberston was needed to step up and make a great performance against Denver, and he delivered one of the most exciting plays in the game.

The Broncos had just gotten a fourth conversion down and were driving into Raiders territory when Duron Harmon hit the free ball from Melvin Gordon. Roberston was sitting right in the perfect spot to pick up the fumble and capitalized on taking it to 68 yards at home for the team’s first defensive touchdown since 2019.

That play changed the momentum of the match right before half-time when the score was tied and it looked like the Raiders would go into the locker room at least three. Instead, they took a six-point lead and never fell behind from that point forward.

Overall, Roberston had a strong outing against running, recording a running defense rating of 78.2 PFF which is the second highest of the week’s cornerbacks, pre-Monday Night Football. He also managed to get three defensive stops in cover, in second place in his position.

Don’t get me wrong, the defender was far from perfect, allowing for four completions on four targets for 87 yards, but friction plays are something he can build going forward and add value to the defense even when the secondary is at maximum strength.

LOSER: Cover point

Probably the biggest negative Silver and Black had yesterday was their punt coverage as Montrell Washington returned three punt for 66 yards and an average of 22.0 yards. While yes, some of that is helped by a 30-yard return, 18 yards per return outside that outlier is just too much.

Many of those runbacks allowed the Broncos to turn the tables on the Raiders or prevented them from having to start a drive with the backup on their own side. Having a Pro Bowl caliber punt like AJ Cole is great, but it won’t matter much if the rest of the unit can’t take cover.

The good news is that Washington is in second place with 15.2 yards per return over the entire season, and the Raiders have allowed the second lowest average yards per punt returned (4.0). So they’ve just been beaten by a good returning player, but it’s definitely something they’ll want to clean up moving forward to make sure a performance like yesterday’s doesn’t repeat itself.

BONUS WINNER: Maxx Crosby

I won’t spend much time on that as Crosby has been in tears so far this year and has been a winner almost every week, but he has put together another strong outing. He finished with two sacks, making the third consecutive game he got at the quarterback on Sunday, and had a beaten pass for the second straight week. Crosby also recorded five defensive stops that bring his season total to 20, the highest among the edges, and is currently tied for fifth place with 18 pressures in the year.

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