As they welcome the Los Angeles Rams for the Monday night Week 1 nightcap, Amari Cooper knows the Raiders will have to score a bunch.
The second game of the now-traditional Monday Night Football Week 1 doubleheader will have a lot of hype, as the Oakland Raiders and Jon Gruden welcome the Los Angeles Rams to town. The Rams had the league’s highest-scoring offense last year (29.9 points per game), while the Raiders are hoping for rebound seasons from quarterback Derek Carr and wide receiver Amari Cooper.
The Raiders were 23rd in the league in total defense last year, with a league-low five interceptions and 31 sacks (tied for 24th in the league). With Khalil Mack and his 10.5 sacks from 2017 gone, the Oakland defense will face an even greater challenge in Week 1.
It would be easy to question or lament the trade that sent Mack to the Chicago Bears, as a couple Raiders players have to some degree and almost any NFL analyst has done. But Cooper pointed more directly toward how the Raiders offense will simply have to keep pace with the high-powered Rams’ offense.
Cooper avoided this week’s main talking point around the Raiders by not mentioning Mack by name, or talking about how he’s gone. With or without one of the league’s best pass rushers the Oakland defense is pretty talent bare, which is the core of the argument for the Raiders trading Mack rather than giving him a cap-straining contract.
If the Raiders offense ends up being better this year, it will be primarily because of Carr and then Cooper by extension. Cooper seems ready to embrace his role as the “main vein” (Gruden-ism alert) of the Oakland passing game. While “we may have to score on every possession” is a bit of hyperbole, it may well prove to be rooted in reality by the time Monday night’s game ends.