1. Quarterback Derek Carr is new in the league; how have the Raiders been using him in the offense? Have they drawn up short/intermediate passing plays?
They have had him dinking and dunking almost exclusively. In the first game against the Jets he averaged just 4.5 yards per completion. He has the arm strength to go deep but he is not quite comfortable back there just yet which causes some footwork problems that affect his accuracy on his deeper throws. He also checks down quite a bit. One of the main problems so far is the lack of a sufficient run game. Without the threat of it, he gets blitzed quite a bit and hasn’t played well against the blitz.
2. The Raiders signed a lot of veterans this offseason. What has their impact been on the field and in the locker room?
Not much from the look of it. The younger players rave about having these former Super Bowl champions like Justin Tuck, Lamar Woodley, and Charles Woodson in the locker room, but it hasn’t shown up on the field. And Tuck and Woodley have not played very well. Woodson is a passionate player who leaves it all on the field. But he can’t do it alone. The defensive line looks old and tired out there. They didn’t hardly lay a finger on Ryan Fitzpatrick last week and the running back ran right through big holes on the line. Maurice Jones-Drew averaged 1.2 yards per carry in the opener and has been out with a hand injury since. He is probably not playing this week either.
3. Who is a player on the Raiders that Patriots fans need to be aware of on both offense and defense and why?
On offense I would like to say Latavius Murray because he could play well... if they would play him. Last week with MJD out, he was the second back after Darren McFadden and yet he got just one carry. It went for six yards. He was out all of last season so that was his first NFL carry. He is a big, tall back who has some talent, but like I said, they have to actually use him if he is to turn up on the radar.
On defense, I would have said Sio Moore but he injured his ankle last week so it’s possible he will not play this week. So, I’ll go with fellow outside linebacker, Khalil Mack. The fifth overall pick is a handful for opposing offensive linemen. He is big, strong, and has some good moves to get into the backfield. He also plays the run well. Might want to keep an eye on that guy.
4. The Patriots are still adjusting to not have a great interior offensive line- who are the Raiders that can take advantage of that match-up?
Pat Sims is the big man in the middle. Despite the run stopping issues the Raiders have been having, he has actually played quite well. He had five solo tackles last week from the nose tackle position which is tied for his second best total in a game. He is also a good bull rusher and it can be hard to slow down a man his size once he gets moving.
5. The Patriots and Raiders are at opposite ends of the league in penalties. How are the Raiders coaches and who is the star on the staff?
This is a lame duck staff if there ever was one. Jason Tarver is in way over his head as defensive coordinator and Greg Olson has yet to find a way to utilize this team’s best weapons. Dennis Allen is halfway out the door already after the team’s performance in the first two weeks of the season. He may not make it through the bye week two weeks from now. I don’t see a star on this staff, per se. Although, Tony Sparano would be the interim head coach should Allen be fired. Sparano is well respected by his players and has head coaching experience with a fairly decent 29-32 record with a trip to the playoffs.
Thanks for the time, Levi. Let's hope Sparano doesn't have a Wildcat up his sleeve.