The Raiders escaped with a Week 1 victory over the Panthers, but Jon Gruden’s team has serious defensive issues to solve before Week 2 arrives.
Jon Gruden’s team will head into Week 2 with a 1-0 record, but the team’s opening win over the Panthers may give the franchise more questions than answers. The Raiders’ inability to stop the Panthers offense for long stretches of the game may portend serious problems for Las Vegas down the line.
The good news for Gruden and his staff is that their offense was humming against Carolina. Getting a road win in the NFL is always something to celebrate. The fact that both Derek Carr and Josh Jacobs had outstanding season debuts should be encouraging for Raiders fans.
Jacobs only managed 97 yards on his 25 rushing attempts, but he did find the end zone three times on the ground. Add in his four catches for 46 yards and it’s easy to see how much of a handful he was for Carolina’s inexperienced defense.
Carr was equally as solid from the quarterback position. He completed 22 of his 30 passes on the afternoon for 239 yards and one touchdown. More importantly, he didn’t turn the ball over. Gruden will be particularly encouraged by how quickly his signal-caller got rid of the football against the Panthers’ talented defensive line.
The news on the other side of the football isn’t nearly as good for the Raiders’ staff. Despite doing a reasonable job keeping Christian McCaffrey under wraps, they still managed to give up 30 points to Teddy Bridgewater and the Panthers offense.
The play of the secondary was particularly concerning. Bridgewater carved Las Vegas up to the tune of 270 yards on 34 passing attempts. Robby Anderson had a particularly big day. He finished with six catches for 115 yards. His 75-yard touchdown catch in the fourth quarter was especially embarrassing for Las Vegas’ defensive backs. Several members of Gruden’s secondary took poor angles in their attempts to stop the talented wide receiver.
The team’s defensive front wasn’t any better when it came to trouble Bridgewater with a meaningful pass rush. The group had a grand total of one sack on the afternoon. Bridgewater did elude the pass rush on several occasions with his quick feet, but he still was able to throw from a clean pocket on far too many occasions.
If the Raiders want to be playoff contenders in 2020 their defense will need to make a massive improvement from Week 1 to Week 2. A repeat of their effort against Carolina will doom Las Vegas to the bottom of the AFC West standings.