This year’s Raiders team has a lot of interesting dynamics to consider and evaluate entering the season and as the season plays out. After a season in which they overcame a ton of adversity and made the playoffs, they now have a new coaching staff and front office. They also made a splash with the acquisition of Davante Adams to raise their offensive personnel from average to very good seemingly overnight. The Raiders also committed to Derek Carr with a three-year, $121 million contract extension in April, locking up that duo for the foreseeable future. Change can be a good thing, but there are also often some bumps along the way. One of the bigger questions heading into this season for this team is how the new staff and front office will handle players brought in by the previous regime. Josh Jacobs appears to be on the hot seat as the de facto starting running back, and the team cut 2021 first-round draft pick, offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood, in August.
Heading into the season, we can look at Josh McDaniels’ history and background to guide us in what we expect from the Raiders. The biggest thing to keep in mind is that McDaniels has a background with the Patriots, and their main objective is to play to their personnel and create their offense around the strengths of their players. This is where things get really interesting. The Raiders clearly have a strength in their passing game, with Adams, Darren Waller, and Hunter Renfrow creating a passing attack with multiple weapons whose strengths should seemingly complement each other well. However, the Raiders offensive line is one that has weaknesses in pass protection and personnel that seems better suited to succeed in the running game than in protection.
For this specific game, the Raiders could have some issues on their hands when they try to throw the ball – mainly the dynamic pass rush that the Chargers present that has been bolstered by the addition of Khalil Mack this offseason. The threat of the Chargers pass rush overwhelming the Raiders line, as well as the presence of All-Pro safety Derwin James leading a strong secondary, should make for trouble for Carr and the passing attack. The Chargers ranked near the bottom of the league in nearly every statistical category last season against the run. Given the issues they will have in pass protection, the strengths of their offensive line lying in run blocking, the Chargers clear “path of least resistance” on the ground, and the desire to keep Justin Herbert off the field – it is safe to say the Raiders will have a balanced to run heavy attack to start this season-opening matchup. Adams, Waller, and Renfrow are all very technically sound route runners and can win in short areas of the field, making it likely that the Raiders will have an offense designed for quick hitting passes when they do take to the air and will use a heavy dose of play-action passing to keep the Chargers pass rush honest.