Last week, we began our trip around the AFC West preview series with the Denver Broncos. We continue our Kansas City Chiefs division preview this week by welcoming Bill Williamson, my Silver and Black Pride counterpart.
Last week, Las Vegas Raiders starting quarterback Derek Carr said the following, via Pro Football Talk and the Brother From Another podcast:
“We were three or four plays away from having 12 or 11 wins. Like, literally three plays. And it’s like, we’re so close. Especially, we feel so confident on the offensive side with all the weapons that you mentioned and all those kinds of things. Now adding coach Gus Bradley and Yannick and the different guys that we’ve added to our defense, I mean, we’re kind of excited — to say the least. So we’re really looking forward to the season.”
We asked Williamson whether or not he agreed with Carr’s assessment.
“I don’t know if I agree with him because I don’t think it’s true. I actually got some heat for it because I did a tweet — it was on Pro Football Talk, and I quote-tweeted Pro Football Talk.”
And five plays away from being 3-13. They were an 8-8 team. That’s what they were. https://t.co/UIvkWW37ey— Bill Williamson (@BWilliamsonNFL) July 9, 2021
Williamson received more than 60 replies to his take.
“That’s the NFL season it does ebbs and flows, and to quote Bill Parcells, you are what you are,” he added. “They were 8-8 and I think, at the end of the day, that’s what they were — an 8-8 team. Maybe a 7-9 team, maybe a 9-7 team. 8-8 is what they were. They weren’t good enough for the playoffs, and that’s what it is. Sometimes I think Derek — he’s a very nice person, he’s very optimistic — he feels that’s how he needs to lead and that’s fine. But it’s also kind of misleading.”
Of course, one of those eight wins came against the Chiefs in Kansas City. Carr, who had historically struggled in what seemed like every game against the Chiefs, looked like a different player.
He finished 22 of 31 for 347 yards, three touchdowns and an interception — while showing a hardly-before-seen willingness to throw the ball down the field and test the Chiefs' secondary.
“This is the guy that really struggled against the Chiefs going into last year — The albatross of his career hanging over him,” explained Williamson. “It was a big win for him to win in Kansas City. Was it victory lap-worthy? I don’t know, but it was a big win. He played well against them and he played well a lot. but I think the key was that the Raiders offensive line really had its way against the defensive line in those two games.”
Pro Football Focus had offensive linemen Rodney Hudson, Trent Brown and Kolton Miller with the team’s top blocking grades for that game, but therein could lie the problem for 2021. After offseason trades, Hudson is an Arizona Cardinal and Brown is back with the New England Patriots. Gabe Jackson, another starter, is now a member of the Seattle Seahawks.
“He is at his best when he’s getting really good protection — I know that’s easy to say,” added Williamson. “That’s kind of the key to a lot of quarterbacks, but with him in particular, and you didn’t ask this question, but in a broader scope... the Raiders going to get to the playoffs if they have a great offense. That’s what it’s going to be. They need a great offense this year. The offensive line changed dramatically they traded three starters and they have you know they have a lot of young, unproven guys. You have Richie Incognito, who’s on the other side who’s 38 and he only played in two games last year. This offensive line has to stay healthy and the young guys have to really produce or it could be a tough season for Derek Carr as far as being protected and being comfortable. He’s at his best when he’s comfortable.”
In 2021, the Chiefs play the Raiders twice in five weeks: Week 10 on Sunday Night Football in Las Vegas and Week 14 at Noon in Kansas City.
Williamson also discussed the Raiders’ key offseason additions, his most significant concern entering the season and their overall outlook on Las Vegas’ chances against the Chiefs in 2021.