A Fan’s Guide to Surviving the 2023 Las Vegas Raiders Season

Are you a fan of the Las Vegas Raiders? Here is a survival guide for the 2023 NFL season.

Maxx Crosby before Las Vegas Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs
Maxx Crosby before Las Vegas Raiders v Kansas City Chiefs / David Eulitt/GettyImages
3 of 6

Focus less on the final score and more on their year-over-year improvements.

The fairest way to judge the Raiders is to look for improvements from year 1 of the new regime to year 2. This is where the truth lies. This is where the future lives.

This is something you couldn’t possibly do last year – coming off a playoff appearance in January 2022 and adding the best Wide Receiver in football in March 2022 – you wanted it all in 2022. Your emotions would never allow for this focus. But now that we’ve pumped the brakes a bit, looking at year-over-year improvements is necessary for you to survive the 2023 season as a viewer.

For the past 16 consecutive seasons, the Raiders defense has ranked 20th or worse in the NFL in points allowed. Under McDaniels and Graham, the Raiders were 26th in points allowed and 28th in yards allowed.

Out of all my frustrations as a Raiders fan, the continuously below-average defense is perhaps my biggest pain point. If McDaniels and Graham can finally put together an average defense in 2023 – mediocrity is all I’m asking for – that spike of improvement would excite me for 2024.

Clearly, they were focused on enhancing the defensive personnel this offseason. On paper, they did just that. Graham’s defense has a reputation of being complicated to learn, but it’s on him to know how to teach it. The inability to teach a “complicated defense” after two years would be cause for concern.

A “complicated defense” is attractive to the ear, but it’s meaningless (and maybe even harmful) if it’s not being taught to and/or comprehended by the guys trying to execute it.

On the other side of the ball, there were many moments of frustration with the Raiders' offense last season. But looking at the entire 17-game sample and examining the individual drives, the offense was quite productive – 2nd best time of possession per drive in the NFL (3 minutes, 2 seconds), tied the Chiefs and the Chargers for 3rd highest amount of plays per drive (6.3), their 34.7 yards per drive ranked 6th and their 2.18 points per drive were 8th best.

Not bad for a 6-win team.

But they failed in the red zone. This is an improvement I need to see this season. Settling for field goals instead of touchdowns was a constant during the Gruden years, and I was convinced McDaniels was the right person to fix that problem, but it remains an issue. The Raiders scored a touchdown only 49.7% of their red zone visits in 2022, which was 26th in the league.

Part of the red zone resolution brings me to my next point…