The biggest story lines from the Raiders schedule in 2022

Photo Credit: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times

The 2022 NFL schedule was released this week. With that comes record predictions, ticket-purchasing, and more storylines than anyone can keep track of.  The Raiders schedule is no different. It showcases a matchup against the reigning Super Bowl champions, a revenge game 50 years in the making, and more AFC West matchups than your heart can handle. So, let’s look at three of the biggest storylines to keep track of in 2022.

Week 1: Las Vegas Raiders @ Los Angeles Chargers

It’s the game you’ve been waiting all offseason for. The Raiders will head to SoFi Stadium for their first game of the season to try and take down Justin Herbert and a revamped Charger’s defense.

As you may remember, the Raiders beat the Chargers in the last regular season game of the 2021 season, sending the Silver and Black to the playoffs, and ending the Bolts season without a second thought. Los Angeles has spent the duration of the offseason trying to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Since the two teams last met, they have added numerous Pro-Bowlers to their defense including J.C. Jackson, Kyle Van Noy, and former Raider, Khalil Mack.

Mack, who spent the first four seasons of his career with the Raiders, was traded to Los Angeles this offseason. He is infamously known for being a player Raider Nation saw leading the team to their next Super Bowl win. That is, until the former regime sent him off to Chicago. Since leaving Oakland, Mack’s statistics have declined. However, his game-changing talent and sure-fire want for revenge is still cause for concern in Las Vegas.

On top of being a revenge game for many reasons, the Raiders second home is in Los Angeles. It’s not uncommon for Raider Nation to take over SoFi stadium and make it their own, adding fuel to the fire.

Week 15: New England Patriots @ Las Vegas Raiders

While there are numerous storylines in between Week 1 and Week 15, the Patriots vs. Raiders game is what everyone will be looking forward to. Head coach Josh McDaniels will lead his new team out proudly (we hope), as he takes on the man that taught him everything he knows.

Before being hired as the Raiders head coach in January, McDaniels spent 13 seasons with the Patriots. He served as everything from their offensive assistant to their offensive coordinator, learning the ins and outs of coaching from one of the best in the business, Bill Belichick.

McDaniels was joined in Las Vegas by new general manager, Dave Ziegler, who also spent the previous seasons in New England. McDaniels and Ziegler wasted no time in bringing their favorite former Patriots to Sin City, making Week 15 even more meaningful.

Las Vegas has added six players this offseason who played for the New England Patriots including running back Brandon Bolden, tight end Jacob Hollister, fullback Jakob Johnson, and quarterback Jarett Stidham, among others. Along with players, McDaniels also hired several former New England coaches to his staff.

The sheer volume of Raiders that have played or coached for the Patriots is something that doesn’t go unnoticed, making Week 15 a must win game for the Silver and Black.

Week 16: Las Vegas Raiders @ Pittsburgh Steelers

Fifty years in the making, the Raiders will return to the scene of the “Immaculate Reception” one day after its half-century anniversary. If you’ve been a Raiders fan for a while, or have ever known a Raiders fan, its likely you know exactly what play we’re talking about. If not, you can read up on the controversial play, here.

No matter how much time passes, it will never be clear what happened that day. You’ll get a different story from every player, and every referee working that game. The Raiders are three Lombardi trophies better off than they were that day in Pittsburgh, but they’ll never forget. And they’ll be sure to remind the Steelers of that in December.

The Raiders schedule is tough, with a lot valuable storylines in 2022. If they want to return to the playoffs for a second consecutive year, they’ll have to prove each and every week why they deserve to be there.

These Raiders’ concerns still have to be addressed before Week 1

The Las Vegas Raiders have come a long way this off-season. They have found their new head coach, new general manager, next elite wide receiver, and made many more franchise-changing moves. Now, it’s been one week since the 2022 NFL Draft, and training camp is just around the corner. Las Vegas has made some big moves since February, but the Raiders concerns are becoming increasingly more clear ahead of off-season programs.

Front office stability

More than an improved defense or red-zone offense, the 2022 Raiders need stability. They pushed through the most unpredictable NFL season ever in 2021, dealing with challenges in every sense of the word. And while the playoff loss was disappointing, it also served as a reminder that stability and personnel improvement were finally on their way.

The hiring of Josh McDaniels, Dave Ziegler, and Champ Kelly was a massive step in the right direction. They brought on primarily their own staff and now have executed extensive change in the scouting department as well. All seemed to be looking brighter in Sin City, until this week when it was announced that the Raiders have parted ways with both their vice president of human resources and their team president. It is unclear what lead to the departure of both parties, but new information suggests it may be due to a hostile work environment.

In a newly released statement former president, Dan Vantrelle, suggests he was met with hostility when he brought up concerns regarding the female staff. Vantrelle made clear he stands by his actions and intends to get legal representation regarding his termination.

The Raiders have been involved in many lawsuits over the last year, which makes the latest even more disappointing.

The secondary

The Raiders added a lot of talent in free agency and the draft this year, but one group they hardly addressed was the secondary. Outside of trading for cornerback Rock Ya-Sin, Las Vegas only signed three other players to their secondary, and none of them are known to be game-changing players. For the most part, Josh McDaniels and Dave Ziegler have hung on the pieces that were already there for them.

While some of the pieces they have in place are solid, like Nate Hobbs, most of the pieces could use an upgrade. Starting cornerback Trayvon Mullen and safety Jonathan Abram are both coming off season-ending injuries and surgeries, making their play in 2022 relatively unpredictable.

Despite these injuries and questions, the new front office tandem decided against drafting a rookie cornerback or safety, in hopes that defensive coordinator Patrick Graham can upgrade the players he has on the payroll already, or they can find a steal in the remaining free agents.

That free agent steal may come in the form of Giants’ cornerback James Bradberry, who is rumored to be released from New York in the coming weeks. The former Pro-Bowler is coming off a season with four interceptions, more than any one player had for the Raiders in 2021. If Mullen is out for the beginning of the season, Bradberry gives the Silver and Black a fighting chance and will be a wildly dependable piece of the puzzle upon Mullen’s return.

The offensive line

Unlike the secondary, the Raiders did choose to address the offensive line during the draft. With their first pick, they took Memphis offensive guard, Dylan Parham. Parham’s skill set is unique because he brings the ability to play both center and guard. Prior to the draft, the widespread assumption was that Andre James would remain at center this season, thanks to a somewhat convincing campaign in 2021. Now, it’s less clear than ever what the starting five will look like in September.

Second-year veteran Alex Leatherwood brings his own set of questions, as he was incredibly undependable his rookie season. After playing at both right tackle and right guard, he came away without much success in either. Head coach Josh McDaniels told the media he is unsure where Leatherwood will play next season, but sees him as a “contributor”.

The questions at center come with equal questions at both guard and tackle. The only solidified position on the front line seems to be left tackle, Kolton Miller. Thankfully, with a new offensive line coach comes new hope for an improved line.

The Raiders live in the hardest division in football, inside the hardest conference in football. Their successes and downfalls next season will come at the hands of the problems still unsolved. If they can choose to make smart decisions and do the right thing, these Raiders’ concerns should be mitigated by September.

Derek Carr Extension? What the Raiders New Regime Will Offer

The Las Vegas Raiders have a new regime and it seems that a Derek Carr extension is on the horizon sooner rather than later.

Derek Carr Extension?

Las Vegas Raiders, QB, Derek Carr (Photo via Las Vegas Review Journal)
Derek Carr Extension? (Photo via Las Vegas Review Journal)

The Las Vegas Raiders are prepared for a Derek Carr Extension.

The Super Bowl is today, but the Las Vegas Raiders are in the news before the final game of the 2021 season. While the new head coach, Josh McDaniels, rounds out – the new regime is allegedly prepared to commit to a Derek Carr extension.

After many years of uncertainty, the eight-year veteran may finally be getting the commitment he has been looking for.

Jon Gruden was never fully committed to Derek Carr.

It didn’t matter who you were to former Las Vegas Raiders head coach Jon Gruden; if he wanted a player gone, he ensured it would happen. The same could be said of Gruden and acquiring players such as Antonio Brown, Richie Incognito, Jordy Nelson, and Marshawn Lynch. The fact of the matter is, Jon wasn’t committed to any specific player after seeing the trades of both former All-Pro’s Khalil Mack and Rodney Hudson. As a result, every sub .500 season combined with offensive hiccups led to Derek Carr being the subject of Gruden’s next impulsive trade. His reign of mediocrity and underwhelming roster-building is over, and Josh McDaniels is already showing he understands the importance of going all-in on a signal-caller.

Josh McDaniels thrives on QB continuity, not chaos.

Josh McDaniels coached the future Hall of Famer Tom Brady for 17 years as both an offensive assistant and coordinator. In addition, he played a vital role in the success of Pro Bowl rookie Mac Jones this season.

Safe to say, Josh knows how important it is to scheme to the strengths of a signal-caller. As a result, there will be no time wasted implementing a playbook that maximizes Carr and other offensive players’ strengths. The only question is, how much will a Derek Carr extension go for?

A Derek Carr extension may not be earth shattering.

Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen command an annual average value of over $40 million; it is safe to say that Derek Carr is not in that stratosphere. He will not be the highest-paid player at the position for a quarterback that led the NFL in turnovers in 2021. Carr will be more apt to fit in the range of $25-30 million AAV for four years with Carson Wentz, Kirk Cousins, Matt Ryan, and Ryan Tannehill. But, again, this is a player that the new regime has yet to witness firsthand. They will more than likely err on the side of caution just in case. It remains to be seen if he can lead the Silver and Black to a Super Bowl victory. One could argue that Derek doesn’t deserve an extension, but the precedent is essential for the organization.

A Raiders Super Bowl Can Happen With 3 Major Changes

Las Vegas made the playoffs in 2021, but these three things could help propel a Raiders Super Bowl run for the first time since 2002.

Can Derek Carr will a Raiders Super Bowl? (Photo via Getty Images)

The Las Vegas Raiders took a massive step in the right direction in 2021. They improved their bottom-tier defense and finally made the playoffs for the first time since 2016. While this was exciting, we all know that winning a Super Bowl title is the true goal. So with a new coaching staff and a locker room full of dedicated players, let’s take a look at three changes the Raiders need to make to find themselves in the Super Bowl.

The offensive line must improve.

Before 2021, the Raiders had a monstrous offensive line. Rodney Hudson, Gabe Jackson, Trent Brown, Kolton Miller, and Richie Incognito were all among the best at their position, but 3 of the 5 are making waves on other teams. Former head coach and general manager Jon Gruden and Mike Mayock had faith in their new line. They hoped the likes of Alex Leatherwood and Andre James could fill their big shoes. While it may have seemed promising at the time, the result was far from ideal.

The Silver and Black’s offensive line finished the season ranked 28th out of 32 per Pro Football Focus. Luckily, their hard work began to pay off near the end of the season, and their improvement from Week 1 to the Wild Card Round became undeniable. However, as the team navigates a new offensive line coach and a fresh head coach, it will be crucial to continue to trend upwards.

Keep an eye out to see if the new regime signs any free agent offensive linemen or if they choose to go the route of drafting one. Either way, the first step to getting to the championship game is improving the production of Derek Carr’s front five.

The Raiders’ efficiency in the red-zone must improve on both sides of the football.

All season long, both offense and defense struggled in the red zone. Once the Silver and Black got within the twenty-yard line on either side of the ball, the game plan seemed to sputter and stop.

The Raiders’ defense ranked last in red-zone efficiency through 2021. They allowed a touchdown on 77.08% of opponents’ red zone drives, per teamrankings.com. For comparison, the number one ranked red zone defense, the New Orleans Saints, allowed a touchdown just 43.48 percent of the time.

It’s impossible to argue that the defense didn’t see a massive improvement in 2021. But, if they want to continue to make strides towards the Super Bowl, it starts with not giving up so many points in the red zone. 

Offensively, they ranked 29th in red-zone efficiency, finding the end zone 49.23% of the time. Thankfully, they have an extremely reliable kicker in Daniel Carlson, allowing them to put points on the board much more often than that.

Without Carlson, it’s hard to say how many games the team may have lost due to their inability to score touchdowns as often as necessary.

Thanks to new head coach Josh McDaniels, it’s safe to be cautiously optimistic that the offenses’ scoring ability will improve. In 2021, McDaniels guided his former team, the New England Patriots offense, to a touchdown in the red zone 63.08% of the time, a vast improvement from the Raiders’ less than 50%. An improvement in red zone efficiency on both sides of the ball may put more games in the win column in 2022 and beyond.

A Raiders Super Bowl means no more midseason collapses.

The Raiders have found themselves in a mid-season drought for three consecutive seasons. In 2021, after starting 5-2 before the bye week, Las Vegas lost 5 of 6 games, dropping to 6-7. All three of the previous seasons have been nearly identical. After starting the season strong, the offensive and defensive efficiency declined, and they found themselves far out of playoff contention.

2021 was the outlier. The Silver and Black were able to rally and win their last four games to propel themselves into the playoffs. Without their midseason struggles, the road to the playoffs may have been much smoother. McDaniels and his new team must ensure that the infamous mid-season collapses become a distant memory rather than a constant reality.

The road to a Raiders Super Bowl (or any other teams) isn’t easy. It takes everyone from the front office to the practice squad, and these three things are not the only obstacles Las Vegas has to overcome, but they’re a good start. If Head Coach Josh McDaniels can lead the Silver and Black past these obstacles, a Super Bowl berth may be closer than previously thought.

Josh McDaniels and David Ziegler are perfect for the Las Vegas Raiders

The Las Vegas Raiders have hired two New England Patriots in David Ziegler and Josh McDaniels to re-establish the once great organization. See why they are the two for the job.

Las Vegas Raiders GM & Head Coach Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels (Photo by Raiders.com)
Las Vegas Raiders GM & Head Coach Dave Ziegler and Josh McDaniels (Photo by Raiders.com)

Josh McDaniels and David Ziegler have entered Las Vegas with authority

Earlier today, the Las Vegas Raiders put themselves back on the map by making the hirings of both Josh McDaniels and David Ziegler official. An introductory press conference had the duo flanking Raiders owner on Mark Davis on each shoulder, while Davis could not help but grin from ear to ear with the fruits of an exhausting coaching search.

In contrast, some in Raider Nation are hesitant about hiring two former New England Patriots for, arguably, two of football’s most important positions in any organization. The fact is this, both have worked tirelessly to get where they are at today.

McDaniels and Ziegler come from humble roots

While many view these two as former New England Patriots, each is much more than that. Both are husbands and fathers and have children while also being from the esteemed John Carroll University, where many top NFL coaches and executives hail from; here are just a few of them:

  • Nick Caserio – Houston Texans GM, former New England Patriots Director of Player Personnel
  • David Caldwell – Philadelphia Eagles Personnel Executive/former Atlanta Falcons and Jacksonville Jaguars GM
  • Greg Roman – Baltimore Ravens Offensive Coordinator/former San Francisco 49ers Offensive Coordinator
  • Don Shula – Hall of Fame NFL head coach
  • Brandon Staley – Los Angeles Chargers head coach
  • Tom Telesco – former Los Angeles Chargers GM and Indianapolis Colts Director of Pro Scouting

As you can see above, there is something in the water at northeast Ohio University. However, a culture of relationships and winning ways brought the two former collegiate teammates in 1997 together in Sin City. With both being from tiny towns in Ohio, the two have prided themselves on working hard.

With that being said, the duo means business.

Josh McDaniels and David Ziegler are setting a new standard for the Raiders

While Rich Bisaccia was beloved by many players and fans, Mark Davis has gone in a different direction. That direction is each member of the organization earning their keep while learning their new leaderships expectations.

This brain trust of McDaniels and Ziegler will not hesitate to acquire players that fit their criteria. While some have questioned the hire of Josh, it is evident that he has raised his standards since his last head coaching stint.

After years of mediocrity and late-season collapses, a coach that holds himself accountable is exactly what the Silver and Black need. Expect things to change dramatically within the organization for the better.