The Las Vegas Raiders beat up on the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2022 preseason opener. What did we learn about the new-look Raiders?
There are a variety of questions looming over the Kansas City Chiefs right now: How will the new receivers pan out? Will Patrick Mahomes return to MVP form this year? How much did the defense actually improve this offseason? All are founded curiosities and only time will tell the answers to each. One more question though, and this one may be the biggest, is just how good did the rest of the AFC West get?
On Thursday night, we got our first look—sort of—at an AFC West rival last night in the Hall of Fame game when the Las Vegas Raiders beat up on the Jacksonville Jaguars. There were hardly any reps from the starters on either team, but there were still a couple of notes to be made about the new-look Raiders.
1. The offensive line is legit
The unit that featured the most starters for either team in the game was the Raiders offensive line. Only left tackle Kolton Miller was absent from the field, and while his backup Brandon Parker gave up two sacks, that was really the only low point of the night for the Raiders in the trenches.
One of the most important points of the Raiders offseason was their decision to not pick up Josh Jacobs’ fifth-year option. They have expensesto pay elsewhere, and they seem okay to move on from the star running back before his next payday. That said, the running back carousel was spinning last night with five different halfbacks receiving multiple touches. They recorded 147 yards and 2 touchdowns as a group, largely in part to the work of the offensive line.
Running lanes—albeit formed against the second and third teams of the Jags—were blown wide open time and time again, and the unit appeared to be cohesive. Again, it was all done without Miller, the starting left tackle, but the rotation, which included rookies Dylan Parham and Thayer Munford, appeared to be in unison all night in both pass protection and run blocking.
The take-home point here is that the Raiders, assuming that the offense is clicking, will be able to score. If Derek Carr can stay upright, and the running backs are able to balance out the attack, Las Vegas should be more directly inserted into AFC West shootouts than they have been in recent history.