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5 Questions with the Enemy: A look at the Las Vegas Raiders

Pass-rusher Maxx Crosby remains the Raiders’ top defensive threat. Meanwhile, on the other side of the ball, Las Vegas’ offense line is cooling down.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Welcome back for another edition of 5 Questions with the Enemy, which this week features Matt Holder of Silver and Black Pride — our sister site covering the Las Vegas Raiders. Holder joined us to break down the current state of this Raiders squad, including one of the more interesting offensive line situations around the league right now.

What going on with the Raiders offensive line right now? It seems like you guys did a fairly good job of protecting the quarterback before the Chargers game, but also struggled to block up runs.

The run blocking has been okay to bad all year. The Raiders’ offensive line is decent at staying in front of their man but they don’t generate much push, so when they play a more physical and penetrating defensive line, the line gives up a lot of negative runs where Josh Jacobs has a defender in his face right after getting the ball.

As you mentioned, the pass protection has been good for most of the season as that’s the unit’s strength. However, right tackle Jermaine Eluemunor has gone from one of the better/most-productive (in terms of giving up sacks and pressures) right tackles in the NFL to one of the worst in the span of two weeks. Against the Broncos and Bills, he didn’t allow a single pressure. Then he lines up across from T.J. Watt and Khalil Mack and not only gives up 11 pressures, per Pro Football Focus, but five sacks too.

The Chargers also ran some line games and stunts that gave the Raiders’ offensive line some trouble. Marcus Johnson and I actually broke this down on our YouTube channel, ‘Tape Don’t Lie’, if anyone wants to get a first-hand look.

How are Raiders fans feeling about Jimmy Garoppolo? Does he feel like the guy for you moving forward or is this viewed as a stopgap experiment?

Garoppolo is a stopgap. I don’t think anyone ever really saw him as the guy moving forward since he is 31 and turns 32 in November, and is injury-prone, but the fanbase definitely expected more from him so far. He’s been super skittish in the pocket and has thrown six picks in three games while the offense can’t even score 20 points. Aidan O’Connell is the clear fan favorite and I think most people are already over Jimmy G.

Is there anyone that Packers fans have to worry about on the defensive line other than Maxx Crosby? Green Bay’s offensive line was pretty banged up last week, but the hope is that they can bounce back with some extra rest leading into this one.

Malcolm Koonce has gotten more reps with the Chandler Jones situation going on, and Koonce can be a really good pass-rusher that Packers fans might want to be concerned about since David Bakhtiari is on the shelf. Koonce is in his third season and has flashed by turning speed to power. He doesn’t have a sack yet but does have six pressures in the last two games on just 30 pass rushes, via PFF, as he’s one of the few defensive linemen outside of Crosby who can win one-on-one matchups somewhat regularly. There have been a few reps where those two have met at the quarterback but Crosby won a half-second faster and ended up getting the sack.

Other than Koonce though, there really isn’t anyone I would be too worried about. Veteran defensive tackle John Jenkins has been solid lately, plugging up gaps in the run and getting some pressure here and there. Rookie Tyree Wilson is coming along but still isn’t quite there yet.

How are the cornerbacks playing for you guys? I noticed that both Marcus Peters and fourth-round rookie Jakorian Bennett have each surrendered 200+ receiving yards coming into this matchup.

As a whole, the cornerbacks haven’t been very good. Peters is past his prime and doesn’t have the same movement skills he used to have, while Bennett is going through the rookie struggles. The best way I can describe Bennett this year is he’s a 50/50 player. He’ll make one good play with a pass breakup or something, and then he’ll get toasted on the next. David Long Jr. has been getting more playing time lately though, and he’s been solid outside of a terrible offside penalty that negated a Crosby strip sack last week. Nate Hobbs is the Raiders’ best corner as he can cover the slot pretty well, but he got injured in practice last week and missed the Chargers game so we’ll see if he plays on Monday night.

If you had to make one bet on this game, what would it be?

This is a risk but it’s +400 odds on DraftKings as one of their weekly specials; Josh Jacobs over 125 rushing and receiving yards and one rushing touchdown. The Packers have struggled to stop opposing running backs so far this season, and the Raiders got Jacobs involved in the passing game in Los Angeles as he had nearly 140 total yards from scrimmage. So, it’s not a safe bet or a “lock”, but I think that’s a good value given the odds.