Ross Jacobs has been an FFM correspondent on NFL games and NFL Draft matters for the past few years. He is going to be writing up some of his notes on various games he’s watching/studying this year. Typically, he will have written/submitted his work before mine, so this is a look at the same game with different eyes...and you can compare and contrast or find some new takeaways.
2020 Week 3 Analysis: Raiders @ Patriots (By Ross Jacobs)
-New England seemingly blew out the Raiders, but this game was only 13-10 Patriots at the half. After that things got out of hand, but on my review I didn't think these teams were all that far apart. The Raiders committed some dumb penalties that helped out New England, and the Patriots just played more solid ball. The Raiders' last drive was a garbage time TD, but the Patriots' last one was a sack and fumble for a score, so it kind of evens out. The Patriots are definitely the more well-coached and disciplined team, but I don't think there's a massive talent gap here.
-One thing that did stand out quite sharply on tape was how terrible Las Vegas was tackling this game. There were multiple offenders that missed fairly routine tackles, but Johnathan Abram was by far the worst. I'm not sure what the heck he was doing here, but he completely wiffed at least 4 or 5 times this game. Go back and watch how badly he failed trying to tackle Burkhead. It's embarrassing. The Raiders better get that cleaned up or it's going to be a huge problem for them on defense.
-The Raider offense also has to find some alternatives to “throw the ball to Waller” every play that they don't run it with Jacobs. I complained about that last week, and it's a recurring issue with the Saints too. If everyone knows what the plan is, how is it so impossible to stop? The Patriots don't seem to have that issue. They completely deleted Waller from this game, and the Raiders looked like they had no idea that was a possibility. There was no backup plan, and they got thoroughly shut down because of it. Fortunately for them most teams aren't as smart as Belichick and won't have any idea how to replicate his success. Las Vegas will be back to the Waller and Jacobs show next week.
-Cam Newton looked mortal again here after throwing with impunity against the Seahawks. Just goes to show you how much schedule and matchup matters. You cannot ignore details like that. This is a run first, second, and third team. How they run will change from week to week, but don't think for a second that this offense is just as good or versatile as Brady's Pats were a few years ago. They are built like a Ravens-lite and will have all the same problems if they get down in a game. In fact Cam looked terrible early in this game. It wasn't until the 3rd quarter that things started opening up for the Patriots on offense. Word has come out now that Cam tested positive for the virus, and it sounds like the game may be delayed.
-I still see the Patriots with around 11 wins or so depending on schedule. The Raiders will likely be in the 9-10 win range and fighting for a wildcard spot.
-Burkhead had a monster game, but this doesn't mean he's suddenly the Patriots back to own. The Patriots always rotate their guys based on matchup. Next week Burkhead will put up a stinker, and you'll wish you didn't start him. Besides, Cam is still going to take the majority of the TD's. Don't get suckered in by this one week anomaly.
-Hunter Renfrow broke out in a big way too. He's not the most talented guy ever, but he's definitely serviceable and there might be more legs to this one because the Raiders are so starved for receivers at the moment. He should get decent targets at least in the short term. My bet would be he's up and down useful all year and gets you ok stats, but he's not going to become a WR1 or anything.
-Don't panic on Waller. The Patriots always try and take away their opponent's top target. It's a sign of respect from Belichick actually. Most teams can't do the same so make sure you are still starting Waller every week. He's a safe TE1.