Big game for the Las Vegas defense
The Las Vegas Raiders defense led the way in the team’s upset win over the Kansas City Chiefs on Christmas Day, scoring as many points as it allowed and accounting for all of the Raiders’ touchdowns. There were several standouts on that side of the ball, leading the way for this week’s winners and losers column.
WINNER: Antonio Pierce
It’s no secret that Antonio Pierce has been auditioning for the full-time head coaching job for the past couple of months, and he made a strong statement with Monday’s win. Pierce was able to pick up his first win on the road and against a quality opponent. He’s also closing in on an 8-9 or 9-8 record, which appears to be the threshold for him to keep his job.
It also doesn’t hurt that this game is on the national stage and Pierce has seemingly earned national support to become the Raiders’ full-time head coach.
LOSER: Aidan O’Connell
As the team won, Aidan O’Connell continued to ride the rookie roller coaster as he put in another tough performance. O’Connell missed several shots, ending the game completing nine of 21 passes for just 62 yards and all this happened in the first trimester when he I didn’t make a pass for the rest of the game. Unlike the winners on this list, he left the door open for someone else to take his job next season.
WINNER: Patrick Graham
Patrick Graham had a great year as a defensive coordinator getting results without having much talent to work with, but Andy Reid and the Chiefs have seemingly had Graham’s number in the past. Kansas City had scored 30 or more points in each of the last three games against Las Vegas, so Monday’s game was a breakthrough performance for the defensive coordinator. Additionally, the Raiders defense almost single-handedly won the contest by outplaying the offense with two defensive touchdowns.
LOSER: André James
The game started off poorly for Andre James as he was beaten pretty badly by Chris Jones for a sack which led to a three-and-out play later. James wasn’t much better the rest of the afternoon as he struggled in the running game as well. He is an impending free agent and the offense looked much better last week with Dylan Parham under center, making the four-year pro expendable.
WINNER: Malcolm Koonce
Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images
Malcolm Koonce has been on a tear lately and is arguably the hottest player on the Raiders roster. He consistently won as a passer, piling on pressure after pressure, and was coming off a career-high performance with two sacks against the Chargers. But that stage was short-lived as Koonce dominated again and finished with three sacks on Monday. He also made a nice play against the run, establishing the advantage and recovering a tackle for loss.
In my mail column this week, someone asked if the three-year pro should get a contract extension this offseason and I said he needs to continue to finish the season strong to land a new contract . However, my opinion quickly changed and, to quote the film Curves“Pay this man his money!” »
LOSER: Davante Adams
Even though O’Connell was missing some of the throws, Davante Adams was very unproductive with one catch for four yards on six targets. L’Jarius Sneed did a good job being physical with Adams and blocked the wideout for most of the afternoon. Additionally, Adams missed a terrible block on a screen that allowed Sneed to make a tackle near the line of scrimmage while the cornerback had his number.
WINNER: Jack Jones
Jack Jones recorded his second pick six in as many weeks as he once again showed impressive instincts to jump a loop and make the interception. Jones spoke a little during the week, but backed up his words with his play and became a viable starting cornerback for Las Vegas moving forward.
WINNER: Zamir White
With the absence of Josh Jacobs, Zamir White has put together two impressive performances in as many weeks. White averaged 6.6 yards per carry Monday with 22 carries for 145 yards, including runs of 43 and 15 yards to seal the victory on the Raiders’ final drive. Eleven days after setting a single-game career high for rushing yards, he set another career high and more than doubled his production since his last outing.
Jacobs’ future with the organization is uncertain as his contract expires at the end of the year, and the recent emergence of the 2022 fourth-round pick could make the 2022 rushing champion expendable.
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