Editor’s note: We welcome Cam Mellor of Silver and Black Pride — our sister site covering the Las Vegas Raiders — for Five Questions with the Enemy as we head into the Week 5 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Raiders on Sunday.
1) Do you think this game should be going ahead given the uncertainty about COVID-19 and incubation periods?
It’s hard to say, to be honest. At this rate, if any one league is going to persist through tests, incubations and uncertainty, it’s absolutely the NFL. Having said that, of course my moral compass dictates me to steer the other way. I’d much prefer to have the players safe and their health be taken seriously — and to the highest regard. I happen to hail from Florida, which has now said they will fill their stadiums, so it looks as if even if there were positive tests, the NFL is not doing much to stop games from being played. So, yes, I think they should. They should also have a Week 18 baked into the schedule for makeup games — but I don’t think they will.
2) How would assess the Jon Gruden reign to date?
If the start of the 2020 season has taught us anything, it’s that Rome was not built overnight. The Raiders were not going to be rebuilt into a Super Bowl contender in just one season — hell, maybe even two seasons. Okay, fine, Super Bowl contender is a loose approximation of what Gruden brings as a head coach with such lofty goals — and I’m not saying the Raiders will be a Super Bowl contender this or next year — but with the success that they have seen in terms of building around Gruden’s system with the players and staff buying in, it’s been a great success so far. This year, however, likely grants the most-established coaches a bigger benefit of the doubt, so we’ll really know just HOW GOOD the Gruden reign can be after the 2021 season.
3) Who’s been the breakout player for the Raiders so far?
That’s a tough one, because there’s the breakout that tight end Darren Waller had to start the season — but we already knew of him as a valuable pass-catching weapon over the middle. If anything, I’d say it’s Henry Ruggs — even if the statistics don’t back that up. He’s officially taken off as one of the league’s deep threats and once that chemistry with Derek Carr catches up (as well as Ruggs’ health continues to improve), there is no reason to think the stats won’t back up Ruggs’ expected breakout.
4) The Chiefs defense hasn’t allowed more than 20 points so far this season. How does Derek Carr buck that trend?
Taking the top off the defense. The Raiders’ scripted offense certainly tells a tale of an offense that wants to take deep shots — and though it’s predicated on the health and availability of Ruggs at this point, we saw it early on this year. When he is healthy and on the field, Carr has the arm to find him behind the defense. Once that happens, the underneath, short and intermediate passing attack is open for Waller to eat up the targets and gain tons of yards after the catch. Connecting on a few successful deep balls is key to scoring more than 20 in any game, but especially against KC.
5) How will this game play out?
This game plays out in exactly one of two ways:
The Raiders play the games of their lives, and Carr connects on several deep shots to a HEALTHY and AVAILABLE Ruggs. The defense cheats back and allows Waller to see 12-15 targets and come down with 8-10 receptions. Josh Jacobs hits the holes hard and goes for over 100 on the ground with the defense playing further off the ball to contend with the deep passing attack. Carr lights up the scoreboard and Jacobs finds the end zone a couple of times as the Raiders outscore the Chiefs by some outlandish number.
That... or... well... the Raiders fall flat on their faces like they did against New England. History is much less likely to repeat itself, though... right?