The Las Vegas Raiders have been a pretty successful team so far this season. They defeated the Kansas City Chiefs in their first meeting against them, and they were then competitive with them in their second meeting. The Raiders’ solid play has led to them starting the year 6-4, as they are currently in the final AFC playoff spot after Week 11. Now, the Raiders are trying to ensure that they can secure that playoff spot, as they recently added a former All-Pro NFL player. That player is pass rusher, Vic Beasley.
The Las Vegas Raiders have had a lot of success so far in 2020
The Raiders went 7-9 during the 2019 season and struggled both offensively and defensively. They ranked 24th in both points scored and points allowed per game. However, the Raiders have been much better this year, specifically on offense.
Las Vegas is scoring 28.6 points per game so far this season, which is within the top 10 in the league.
Quarterback Derek Carr is potentially having the best season of his career so far, too. He has thrown for 2,431 yards, 19 touchdowns, and only three interceptions. The 19 touchdown passes already match the total amount of TD passes he threw for in 2018 and are only two fewer than the amount he threw for in 2019.
Additionally, Josh Jacobs is having a great season at running back for the Raiders, as he is fourth in the NFL in rushing yards with 755 yards and tied for third in rushing touchdowns with nine. He is also sixth in the league in yards from scrimmage with 913. The Raiders also have an excellent tight end for Carr to throw to, as Darren Waller has 60 catches for 519 yards and five touchdowns.
Their defense has struggled at times
While the offense has been strong, the Raiders’ defense has not been that great this year. It is ranked No. 26 in the NFL in points allowed per game, as it is allowing 27.6 points per game.
It has also not done a very good job of pressuring the quarterback. The Raiders are second-to-last in the NFL in total team sacks with 11. Other than Maxx Crosby’s six sacks, no Raiders’ defensive player has over 1.5 sacks.
A lack of pressure has led to the Raiders allowing 2,736 passing yards this year, which is fifth-most in the NFL.
So, to sum that up, Las Vegas has a pass-rushing problem that needs to be addressed.
They have potentially done just that, though.
The Las Vegas Raiders added Vic Beasley to their practice squad
In 2016 with the Atlanta Falcons, Vic Beasley was one of the best defensive players in the NFL. He ultimately earned First-Team All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors, as he forced a league-leading six fumbles and led the NFL in sacks with 15.5.
However, after recording five sacks in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons, and eight sacks in 2019, the Falcons chose not to re-sign him following the 2019 season. Beasley then signed with the Tennessee Titans, but in five games for the Titans this season, he was a major disappointment. He recorded no sacks and just three total tackles.
The Titans ultimately released Beasley, which has since led to the Raiders adding him to their practice squad, the team announced on Nov. 23.
If Beasley performs like he did in Tennessee, this move won’t really mean that much for the Raiders. However, if he can perform anywhere near the level that he played at while with the Falcons, he can be a difference-maker and ultimately help the Raiders get into the playoffs.
The Raiders have a weakness on defense, and that weakness is getting to the quarterback. If Beasley can help them pressure the quarterback more than they have thus far, then their defense has a chance to improve significantly. This could ultimately prove to be big in meaningful games down the stretch for them.
It’s hard to tell if the Raiders’ recent move will pay off or not. If it does, though, it could help them secure their playoff hopes.
Stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference