The Philadelphia Eagles are visiting the Las Vegas Raiders at
The Death Star Allegiant Stadium on Sunday afternoon. In order to preview this Week 7 matchup, I reached out to our enemies over at Silver And Black Pride. The magnificent Matt Holder kindly took the time to answer my questions about this upcoming tilt. Let’s take a look at the answers.
1 - The Raiders got a big win after Jon Gruden resigned in disgrace. To what extent do you buy that as a sign of positive things to come? Or was it just a temporary bump?
I definitely think the emotional and “banding together” aspect of the Gruden situation will wear off quickly, but I also think there will be a few positives with the change in offensive play calling.
The Raiders had one of the lowest play-action rates under Gruden and were slightly above average last week with Greg Olson calling the plays. They ended up having their highest point total of the season against the Broncos and as a whole, the offense looked a lot more modern and did a better job of getting more players involved in the passing game like Kenyan Drake and Josh Jacobs. Also, Derek Carr was able to have full control of the offense at the line of scrimmage which I think helped him be a little more comfortable than the previous weeks. So I think the play-calling change will stick and continue to be an improvement for the Raiders.
2 - Any interest in Doug Pederson as the next Raiders coach?
I’d definitely be interested in Pederson as the next head coach. He’s won a Super Bowl fairly recently, went to the playoffs in three out of five years for the Eagles, and has a modern offense that I think would be fun to watch with the players the Raiders have on offense. Plus, it’d be nice to have someone who has inside knowledge of Andy Reid’s/the Chiefs’ offense.
I like Pederson as a coach a lot and felt like he was kind of made out to be the scapegoat last season. Ironically, I spent a lot of the offseason comparing his resume to Gruden’s as my rationale for saying Gruden would be on the hot seat if it weren’t for the 10-year contract. In a way, I guess I was kind of right...
3 - What is the Raiders’ biggest strength? How should they be attacking the Eagles?
Darren Waller is Las Vegas’ best player but I actually think their offense is at its best when defenses key in on Waller and the Raiders are able to spread the ball around. Of course, he’s still going to be the primary target and if he’s open, he’s getting the rock, but the difference between last year’s offense and this year’s are the other guys.
Carr and Henry Ruggs III have become one of the league’s best deep connections this year, while Hunter Renfrow is climbing the rankings as a top slot receiver. Bryan Edwards has come up clutch in some big moments as well, and Drake and Jacobs were finally able to make an impact in the passing game last week.
As much as I love to see Waller put up numbers as the top tight end in the NFL, Las Vegas’ offense is harder to stop when the targets are spread out more evenly. For example, he had his fewest targets last week with five and that was the Silver and Black’s best offensive game of the year.
4 - What is the Raiders’ biggest weakness? What should the Eagles be looking to exploit?
The offensive line, both run blocking and in pass protection, especially on the interior. I’m very afraid of what Javon Hargrave and Fletcher Cox can do to John Simpson, Andre James and Alex Leatherwood.
Simpson is supposed to be a backup but is starting with Richie Incognito on injured reserve, James is still learning the position in his first year as a starter, and Leatherwood is a rookie converted tackle. All three have struggled across the board and going against a former All-Pro and one of the NFL’s best interior pass rushers this season isn’t an ideal matchup.
5 - Who wins this game and why? Score prediction? And what are your expectations for the rest of this Raiders season?
I think Las Vegas is closer to being a complete team whereas Philadelphia is still trying to figure out its identity and what they have in some of their young players. As long as the Raiders can get the ball out quick and can take care of the two defensive tackles I mentioned above, I think they’ll have no problems putting points on the board. I am very interested to see how the battles between Maxx Crosby/Yannick Ngakoue and Jordan Mailata/Lane Johnson plays out, though. I think those will be the key matchups when the Eagles have the ball.
My expectations for the Raiders this season are for them to make the playoffs. While yes, Gruden isn’t there anymore, it is year four in his system while Derek Carr is in year eight and has only lead the team to one postseason berth. Also, a lot of other key players are beginning their pivotal third and fourth seasons, and they’ve been in the hunt the last couple of seasons but choked down the stretch. So, the Raiders are kind of in this spot where they need to make the tournament or consider making some major roster decisions in the offseason.