Raiders stare down another QB challenge in Bills’ Allen
The Las Vegas Raiders find themselves in the middle of a five-game gauntlet facing some of the NFL’s greatest quarterbacks.
The Raiders (2-1) christened their brand new Allegiant Stadium with a 34-24 victory over the New Orleans Saints and future Hall of Famer Drew Brees in Week 2 and followed that up with a 36-20 loss to 2015 MVP Cam Newton and the New England Patriots last week.
On deck are back-to-back games against 2018 MVP Patrick Mahomes and the Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs followed by a Oct. 25 home date with three-time MVP Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
But Raiders coach Jon Gruden made it a point to lavish some lofty praise on Sunday afternoon’s opposing QB, Josh Allen of the AFC East-leading Buffalo Bills (3-0).
“He’s a fun guy to watch, man,” Gruden said. “He can really throw the ball. He’s got a great playing style. He’s got a lot of John Elway’s playing style. He can scramble, he’s strong, he’s tough. He’s a big-time player.”
Allen is second in the league with a 124.8 passer rating and set a franchise record for passing yards in the first three games of a season (1,038), not bad when you consider Hall of Famer Jim Kelly also starred for the Bills. He has thrown 10 touchdown passes and been intercepted just once.
The 6-foot-5, 238-pound Allen is the only player in NFL history to record 10-plus passing touchdowns and two-plus rushing TDs in the first three weeks of a season.
“This is the first time I’ve ever really, really been excited about a quarterback on our team,” Kelly told the Los Angeles Times. “We’ve had some and it was always, ‘We’ll see. We’ll see. … Yeah, he’s got potential, but we’ll see.’ With Josh, I think he’s proven to everybody that he can play. Now he just has to stay healthy.”
Wide receiver Stefon Diggs has 20 receptions for 288 yards and two touchdowns while Cole Beasley has 15 catches for 228 for the Bills, who rank fourth in the NFL in total offense (434.0 ypg) and third in scoring offense (31.0 ppg).
Buffalo’s defense, which has ranked in the top three in the NFL in yards allowed per game in two of the past three seasons, is off to a slow start, allowing 380.7 yards per game (21st) and blew a 28-3 lead to the Rams before Allen helped to pull it out at the end.
“Going up 28-3, as a team, we have to be better,” Allen said. “We need to make sure we keep our foot on the pedal and we’ve got to put that game away.”
Las Vegas, which is second in the AFC West behind the Chiefs (3-0), returns home off its first loss of the season. The Patriots rolled up 406 total yards, including 250 rushing, and controlled the ball for 34:39.
“No. 1, we obviously missed some tackles,” Gruden said. “No. 2, we had some guys out of their gaps. We lined up wrong one time and we had a couple of times where we didn’t get in our gaps appropriately on blitzes. And when you make mistakes in a one-gap defense and you miss a few tackles, yardage can add up.”
It also didn’t help that the Raiders lost three fumbles. Quarterback Derek Carr completed 24 of 32 passes for 261 yards and two touchdowns while Josh Jacobs rushed for 71 yards on 16 carries.
The Raiders could be without both of their first-round picks for the contest. Cornerback Damon Arnette reinjured his thumb and along with wide receiver Henry Ruggs III (hamstring) was one of six players who didn’t practice on Wednesday.
Also out were offensive tackle Trent Brown (calf), wide receiver Bryan Edwards (foot/ankle), wide receiver Rico Gafford (hamstring) and defensive tackle Daniel Ross (foot) while linebackers Corey Littleton (knee) and Nick Kwiatkoski (pectoral), safety Johnathan Abram (shoulder/thumb) and offensive tackle Sam Young (groin) were limited.
Five Bills didn’t practice: wide receiver John Brown (calf), offensive lineman Dion Dawkins (shoulder), safety Micah Hyde (ankle), defensive lineman Quinton Jefferson (foot) and linebacker Del’Shawn Phillips (quad). Cornerback Josh Norman (hamstring), who began the season on the injured reserve list, returned to practice and is eligible to come off for this week’s game.
–Field Level Media