The Las Vegas Raiders went into the offseason with the clear objective of changing the culture and energy around the franchise. That started with moving on from longtime quarterback Derek Carr and adding Jimmy Garoppolo, among other moves.
It remains to be seen if a new day has really dawned in Las Vegas, or if its Week 1 win was just a consequence of playing an equally embattled Denver Broncos team. Earning another road victory in the second game of the season could give fans an answer to that quandary. The Buffalo Bills are sure to be mad after their opening week collapse, and could see the Raiders as a fine punching bag.
Garoppolo and the Raiders must stand strong this Sunday, as they try to make their sloppy 2022-23 season a distant memory. Fans cannot buy into this team without a fierce and cohesive effort in Buffalo. Though, that mission figures to be quite the ordeal, based on the availability of certain players.
— Anthony Galaviz (@agalaviz_TheBee) September 15, 2023
Jakobi Meyers, WR (OUT)
Vegas fans have to be somewhat alarmed regarding the status of wide receiver Jakobi Meyers. While he was unquestionably the hero of the team's 17-16 win at Denver, the free agent acquisition suffered his second concussion in the last year. Meyers has missed practice all week and did not exit protocol in time to suit up for Week 2.
The instant chemistry he flashed with Garoppolo- nine catches for 81 yards and two touchdowns- will sorely be missed. As one of the best receivers in the game, Davante Adams could compensate for any offensive player's absence. However, Buffalo's secondary can be suffocating when its working at full capacity.
Without Meyers on the field, the bullseye on Adams gets much bigger. Veteran Hunter Renfrow, who did not receive a single target last week, will presumably handle more responsibilities in the slot. Head coach Josh McDaniels' offense is conducive to adaptability, so Las Vegas might still be able to move the chains without one of its key components.
Chandler Jones, DE (OUT)
This one is not an actual injury, but it has induced plenty of nausea and migraines amongst Raiders fans. Chandler Jones appears no closer to playing a snap for the Silver and Black in 2023, following multiple social media diatribes against management, including McDaniels and general manager Dave Ziegler. Needless to say, he is not practicing with the team, and therefore will be inactive for the Bills game
This is a powder keg of a situation, and those tend not to have swift or clean resolutions. The two-time All-Pro had 4.5 sacks, three passes defensed and three fumble recoveries last season (one being the wild game-winning touchdown against the New New England Patriots). He got injured towards the end of the year and spent the offseason rehabbing.
Whenever a playmaker like Jones is absent, you inevitably feel it. But defensive coordinator Patrick Graham has had plenty of time to formulate a feasible contingency plan for the unit this season. Even so, Josh Allen should be a lot more comfortable without the Super Bowl 49 champion chasing him on Sunday.
We will see if the Raiders can withstand these inactives and pull off the Week 2 upset. The only way to truly alter fan expectations is to earn their trust. This is a golden opportunity to do just that.