BEHIND ENEMY LINES
Behind Enemy Lines: Raiders DE Chandler Jones is a vibe
Behind Enemy Lines brings you the key storylines and latest news for the Arizona Cardinals’ opponents each week this season.
Chandler Jones is a vibe
HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Chandler Jones has had a big impact on his teammates since being signed in March.
On the field, on the sidelines, at practice, in meetings, in their personal lives — Jones is, as they say, a vibe.
“I almost can’t wait to see Chan in the morning, because you know what you’re going to get,” receiver Davante Adams said. “He’s got an infectious type of personality. We joke around all the time, and he’s a great guy just from a vibe standpoint. Then you get him on the field and then you talk about a guy … just the way he goes about his business, the type of examples that he sets, the type of leader that he is.”
Jones brought 10 years of experience with him, including the past six with the Arizona Cardinals, who visit Las Vegas this Sunday.
“We have a ton of respect for him,” Arizona coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “I think he’s obviously a freak when you talk physicality. A special, special player in that regard. But he’s always thinking about the next move, the next play, and how he’s going to beat a guy.”
Which is why Kingsbury had one message for Jones when the two were texting ahead of Sunday’s game.
“Don’t hold it against me when we chip you and edge you with the tight end and back every single play,” Kingsbury said, describing his text. “We’re going to try to handle him, but they’ve got two Hall of Fame rushers and we understand that, so we’ve got to have a good plan.”
Quite the compliment for Jones and fourth-year pro Maxx Crosby, who plays on the opposite end of the line.
But that’s the type of respect Jones has earned wherever he’s gone.
Second-year defensive end Malcolm Koonce said Jones has made it easier to see things thanks to the simplest explanations during meetings.
“It’s like the little things that you have never really noticed,” Koonce said. “He’s a character, he’s a free spirit. All the time at practice he be in his own world, he be powering up. He’s a fun guy to watch. You can tell that he comes in every day and he enjoys what he does.”
Whether it’s providing Adams with that daily dose of positive mindset or naturally assuming some of the leadership responsibility from his co-captains, Jones has made his presence known by being himself.
“Chandler taught me no matter how high you get in this lifetime, stay humble; be you,” second-year cornerback Nate Hobbs said. “I see him and I see a human being. Not nobody on a pedestal, not a man who’s got paid over $100 million over his career, not a guy who’s a rah-rah guy — he’s just a human being. He comes here, he does his job, he leads by example, and not by words. I think those are the best leaders. I see a real genuine man.”
It’s how he was raised, and he said his humility stems from having his dream job.
That, and building camaraderie with his new teammates, has kept a smile on his face since joining the Raiders.
“To have the opportunity to play, it’s just humbling in itself,” said Jones, whose 107 1/2 sacks rank No. 1 since he entered the league in 2012. “As long as I’ve been in the league, it was a little different going to a new team, because I haven’t done it in a while. But you kind of get that first day of school feeling, you don’t want to say or do the wrong things.
“But going through camp, learning new guys, their names, just asking about them, their families, their friends. It’s just the camaraderie, networking. I enjoy learning a new group of guys.”
There’s nothing he needs to learn about former teammate Kyler Murray, and the Cardinals’ star quarterback knows what he’s up against.
“He’s a student of the game, he loves it,” Murray said. “He’s like a Zen master when it comes to the art of the pass rush, all the different ways to get to the quarterback. He loves to educate other up-and-coming pass rushers. I got to see a little of that at the Pro Bowl. He just loves it. It’s hard not to respect that.”
NOTES: RB Brandon Bolden (hamstring), C Andre James (concussion), S Tre’von Moehrig (hip) and LB Denzel Perryman (ankle) did not practice. CB Nate Hobbs (back) was a full participant, while CB Sam Webb (ankle) was limited.
Raiders aim to more evenly distribute ball
By The Associated Press
HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Las Vegas quarterback Derek Carr threw to wide receiver Davante Adams 17 times in the Raiders’ season-opening loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, tied for third-most toward one target during his career.
In Sunday’s home opener against Arizona, Adams might be targeted twice.
“I’m not thinking, ‘How many catches does he have? How many times have I thrown it to him?’ I leave that to (coach) Josh (McDaniels),” said Carr, who completed 22 of 37 attempts, including two touchdown passes and three interceptions. “We’re not sitting here trying to count like, ‘We’re gonna get him 20, and him 10.’ A lot of it can dictate as soon as the ball is snapped, or even before. There was decisions I made in the game last week that happened before the ball was snapped. I already knew where the ball was going, and then we throw it there, we moved on.
“Whether it’s touchdown, complete, whatever — it didn’t matter.”
Unless the ‘whatever’ translates to those 15 incompletions and three interceptions — the latter of which can be attributed to mechanics and timing Carr will need to tweak in time for Sunday.
“We gotta make smart decisions. I just want the ball to go where it’s supposed to,” McDaniels said. “I’ve always said this, the defense gets a vote. I wish I could tell you exactly where it’s gonna go on every play, but they get a vote.
“They’ll have a vote this week.”
Carr’s leading receivers the last two seasons — Darren Waller and Hunter Renfrow — were each targeted six times and combined for seven receptions for 100 yards. Five others were targeted no more than twice.
“I really do not care if I have five catches the whole year, or 100,” Renfrow said. “If we win, that’s all that matters. My job as a receiver is to go out there … and if I run a good route and I’m open, then I did my job.”
McDaniels said the target distribution will even out, having seen “Randy Moss (get targeted) 20 times, and then the next week he has three targets” when he was the offensive coordinator in New England.
After watching the game tape, McDaniels said he spoke with Carr and is confident the offense will be much better this week.
It can’t get much worse.
The three interceptions Carr threw were tied for second most in Week 1 along with Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, one behind Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow. Carr’s 8.1% interception rate ranks worst in the NFL.
Better offensive line play could certainly help with Carr’s decisions. His 11.9% sack rate ranks fifth-highest in the league.
“You want to establish an identity as fast as possible,” said Adams, who had 10 receptions for 141 yards with one TD in his Raiders debut. “That doesn’t happen Week 1, whether it’s good or bad, regardless. It’s gonna take some time to get going and really figure out who you are as a squad, whether it’s on one side of the ball or all together.”
NOTES: RB Brandon Bolden (hamstring), C Andre James (concussion), S Tre’von Moehrig (hip) and LB Denzel Perryman (ankle) did practice. CB Nate Hobbs (back) was a full participant. … The team also announced it signed WR Keelan Cole to the active roster and C Billy Price and CB Nickell Robey-Coleman to the practice squad. WR DJ Turner was placed on injured reserve.
Raiders to meet Cardinals with pass rush, secondary in spotlight
By Kevin Zimmerman
Statistically, the Arizona Cardinals and their Week 2 opponents are the Spiderman meme when it comes to season-opening pass rush statistics.
Arizona recorded zero sacks in a defeat to the Kansas City Chiefs, though they did knock down quarterback Patrick Mahomes six times. The Las Vegas Raiders didn’t record a sack in a loss to the Los Angeles Chargers, with only three QB hits on Justin Herbert.
From a personnel perspective, though, Las Vegas has the stars that the Cardinals do not on the edge.
Former Arizona pass rusher Chandler Jones teamed with Maxx Crosby to make for one of the presumed best edge duos in the NFL. Jones recorded a quarterback hit and a tackle for loss Sunday, while Crosby led the Raiders with 10 tackles and added the other two hits on Herbert.
It was still short of expectations for a star-studded team that got eaten up on the backend, similarly to the Cardinals. Herbert hung in the pocket for 3.04 seconds, third-longest in Week 1, per NextGenStats.
Las Vegas enters its Sunday home game against the Cardinals with secondary depth worries, writes ESPN’s Bill Barnwell.
The front four was able to pressure L.A. passer Herbert more often as the game went along, but the third-year star wasn’t sacked once on his 34 dropbacks. The only quarterback who was contacted less frequently than Herbert in Week 1 was Tom Brady on Sunday night.
Whether pressured or unpressured, Herbert picked apart the Raiders in the passing game, going 26-of-34 for 279 yards with three touchdowns. His 87.6 QBR was the second-best mark for any passer on Sunday, trailing only Patrick Mahomes. He was able to do that despite losing Keenan Allen to a second-quarter hamstring injury.
Unfortunately for Vegas, it also is now dealing with a stream of injuries. While nobody quite as prominent as Allen went down, McDaniels’ team lost cornerback Anthony Averett, running back Brandon Bolden, safety Tre’von Moehrig and linebacker Denzel Perryman to injuries throughout the game. This team already has questions about its depth on defense, so losing starters to injuries in Week 1 makes a difficult situation worse.
Arizona is in the same boat, at least at cornerback after Mahomes carved the Cardinals up for 360 yards, five touchdowns and nine incompletions over 39 attempts.
It would help if the Cardinals got a little more from the pass-rush, which without J.J. Watt (calf) inside got a little juice from defensive end Zach Allen (two QB hits), plus outside linebackers Markus Golden (two), Dennis Gardeck (one) and Victor Dimukeje (one).