Matt Holder of Silver and Black Pride was nice enough to answer five questions about the Las Vegas Raiders heading into this weekend’s game. Matt also joined me for MCM Radio which you can listen to here.
There is a lot riding on this match-up between two 0-2 teams that have playoff aspirations.
1. How are you feeling about the Josh McDaniels hire through the offseason, training camp and the beginning of the season?
Through the offseason and training camp, I felt pretty good about the hire. McDaniels and Dave Ziegler, the Raiders’ new general manager that also came over from New England, knocked free agency out of the park by trading for Davante Adams and signing Chandler Jones. I was pretty confident in the direction of the team, and McDaniels was saying all of the right things.
He talked about how introspective he’s been since getting fired in Denver, and how he’s been working on the people management and relationship-building aspect of the job that he admittedly ignored during his first stint as a head coach. But it wasn’t just lip service as the players backed him up on that too and seemed to really appreciate how he would hold them accountable while still being relatable and understanding of any concerns they might have.
All that being said, winning is the most important part of being an NFL head coach and McDaniels hasn’t done that yet this season. Last week, the Raiders had the Cardinals on the ropes but couldn’t finish the job, and he’s partially to blame for that as not only the head coach but also the offensive play-caller. Racking up a few W’s will reinspire mine and the rest of the fanbase’s confidence in the coach.
2. Obligatory Derek Carr question. Can the Raiders win the Super Bowl with him under center? Where would you rank him amongst NFL quarterbacks?
I like how you prefaced that with “obligatory” as that is the million-dollar question when it comes to Carr! To me, he sits around the 10 to 12 mark among NFL quarterbacks, so a good starter but not a great or elite one.
I think the Raiders can win a Super Bowl with him, but probably not because of him. Carr has a lot of tools and is very talented, but he is one of those guys who needs to be in a great situation to be a consistent winner. When the Raiders have surrounded him with talent, most notably in 2016, he’s played at an MVP level. But when the supporting cast is average to good, he’s not going to elevate everyone around him to win a bunch of games they have no business winning. With that, the addition of Adams should be enough for Carr and the offense to put up plenty of points this season.
3. The Raiders gave up a ton to acquire Davante Adams. Did you like the trade and contract they gave him when it was announced? How has he looked through two games?
I loved the trade when it was announced and would do it all again in a heartbeat. Very rarely does a player like Adams become available so, in my opinion, any general manager should give up whatever it takes to bring him on board, even if that is your top two draft picks and $140 million. With the Raiders’ draft history, there’s a good chance neither of those picks would be on the roster for very long anyway. Just look at Alex Leatherwood.
In the season-opener, Adams was unguardable. He finished with 10 catches for 141 yards and a touchdown, and there were a few more catches left on the table as Carr missed him on a couple of targets. Last week was a different story as Adams was held to just two grabs for 12 yards and one score, but it felt like McDaniels and Carr were trying to overcorrect and get everyone else more involved in the offense. We’ll see if they can find the balance in the third go-around.
4. Give us a player to watch on defense that we may not have heard of that could have a big impact on this game.
Defensive tackle Andrew Billings.
Billings has been around for a few years so some Titans fans might know about him, but he hadn’t seen a significant amount of playing time since 2019 until this season after opting out of the 2020 season because of the pandemic and getting buried on the Browns’ depth chart a year ago. He’s made the most of the opportunity this year though, currently sitting as Las Vegas’ third-highest graded defender from PFF behind Maxx Crosby and Nate Hobbs. Billings has always been known for being a stout run defender and that’s exactly what he’s done with the Silver and Black, so he could have a big impact against Derrick Henry and the Titans offense.
5. The Raiders are 2-point favorites currently at DraftKings Sportsbook. Are you taking that bet? What’s your final score prediction?
I’m obviously biased, but yes. The Raiders looked good in the first half against the Cardinals — they went into the locker room with a 20-0 lead — and just took their foot off the gas and couldn’t close it out. I’m hoping that they learned their lesson the hard way and will be able to take advantage of a Titans team that’s beaten up, literally and morally, after last week’s Monday Night Football performance.
I’ll go, 28-17 Raiders (don’t hate me!).