A win is a win and the Las Vegas Raiders won on Sunday despite almost blowing the game late. The offense was close to unstoppable but the defense played really bad at times. The return of safety Johnathan Abram was something the team was really excited about and he didn’t disappoint even with the rest of the defense struggling. He notched 13 tackles on the day and was all over the field.
However, he called out the defense for their performance.
“Today was a very sloppy performance on the defense’s part,” Abram said Sunday after the game. “We have to execute way better, but did we enough to get the win.”
The Panthers don’t have a loaded offense so it should’ve been a solid day for the defense. With no fans in the stands for the first time ever, Abram acknowledged that it did affect them early in the game.
“It’s very different playing without fans,” Abram said. “We came out kind of slow and it took us some time to get adjusted to that. The second half, we were able to get some momentum with the three-and-outs but next time we have to come out fast and finish strong.”
Playing without fans is something the team is going to have to get used to. The offense did their part, the defense is going to have to start doing theirs or Jon Gruden will start making changes.
Derek Carr Praise Abram
One of the most notable plays of the game came when Abram lit up superstar running back Christian McCaffrey. The sound of the hit was so loud that it caught Derek Carr‘s attention on the sideline. The Raiders didn’t have Abram for most of last season and they’re clearly happy to have him back.
— Chris Reed (@ChrisReed_NFL) September 13, 2020
“The energy he brings with some of those hits — we saw some on McCaffrey and some across the middle — it sets the tone,” Carr said. “In this day and age, where we’re not going to have fans this year and you’re on the road, you’ve got to bring your own energy. You’ve got to bring your own juice, and he is that type of player that brings the energy and the juice.”
Abram still has work to do but this is a really good start for him. The Raiders have been hyping him up for a long time and he’s finally showing why they used a first-round pick on him. He’s going to have a really tough test against the New Orleans Saints in Week 2. It will be really interesting to see how he performs against an elite offense.
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No Reason to Panic Yet
It’s important to keep in mind that the Raiders have a lot of young faces on defense and a number of new players. They didn’t get a preseason to work out any kinks so there are going to be mistakes. Gruden doesn’t sound too worried about the defense yet.
“Let’s be honest, for your first game you’ve played in a long time,” Gruden said. “These guys missed the offseason program. They missed a lot of work last year. You’re out there with live bullets against McCaffrey, Teddy Bridgewater and a pretty good offensive team.
“I think they are going to get confidence and make improvements, but we’ve got to play way better on defense. And John is a big part of that, and we expect him to make sure that happens.”
The Raiders defense has been bad for a long time so it’s hard to be confident that they can turn it around. There’s plenty of talent at every level and they should figure it out eventually. They’re probably not going to be a top-15 group in the NFL this year but they should get better as the season goes on.