Key Raiders to keep an eye on Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers
Yeah, I know; Josh McDaniels isn’t a player. He is a Raider, though, and he is a key component to watch on Sunday.
His offensive play calling is one of the biggest mysteries for Las Vegas in 2022. Not necessarily in terms of how effective it will be, but in regards to whether the Silver and Black present themselves as a passing threat, ground-and-pound team, or a mixture of both.
Pro Bowler Josh Jacobs sits as the Raiders’ RB1, with rookies Zamir White and Brittain Brown in the rotation. Camp standout Ameer Abdullah has been credited with taking over the ‘James White role’; the back that gives you a little bit of everything. Abdullah has shined so bright in this area that it led to veteran Kenyan Drake being a cut victim.
That’s a great rushing attack – at least on paper. However, the passing offense looks equally as dominant.
The Raiders’ offense houses five Pro Bowlers, with four of five coming from the passing attack. Derek Carr and Davante Adams headline these Pro Bowl players, with Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow as Carr’s second and third options. There’s no shortage of weapons in Las Vegas.
How do we know which side McDaniels leans on more often than not? Well, we can’t know for certain, but we can dabble in Josh McDaniels’ past tendencies.
In 2021, the Patriots logged the seventh-highest rush percentage league-wide. The year prior, in 2020, New England’s run percentage ranked second. To find a year where the Pats’ run percentage wasn’t in the top half of the league, you’d have to go back to 2017. Since the ’16 season, McDaniels has led his offenses to be top-7 in rush percentage in all but two years.
The above numbers are courtesy of the folks at Team Rankings.
Even with that in mind, it’s foolish to write the Raiders off as a pass-first team. After all, the team spent $344.3 million this year on the combined total contracts of Carr, Adams, Waller, and Renfrow.
So, will McDaniels stick to his running ways with the wide assortment of quality backs at his disposal, or will he elect to let those who recently had big paydays show why they’ve earned every penny? Deciding which way he wants to hurt you is a problem, but boy is it one darn good problem to have.