It wasn’t pretty, but in the end, the Las Vegas Raiders left Denver with a 17-16 victory over the Broncos to kick off the 2023 regular season. Head coach Josh McDaniels put together the proper game plan, and the team led by quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo was able to execute and come away with a win.
After a disappointing season last year, the Raiders are looking to bounce back and make a postseason push in 2023, and starting the season with a victory is something that should allow for some positive momentum. McDaniels is already seeing that with his team.
“Look, when you win a game in the league, you should be excited about doing that. It’s hard to do that. Every game is hard,” McDaniels said after the win. “It doesn’t matter who you play, it doesn’t matter where you play. They’re all difficult because every team has good players and good coaches, and it’s tough to win. And so, I think our team responded appropriately to winning the division game on the road against a good team, who’s also well coached and has got good players. And so, that’s a good thing. They should be happy about that.”
As the Raiders coach said, a lot goes into preparing for these games, and a team should be happy and celebrate properly when they win. But they also know that things weren’t perfect, and the team is already focusing on where they can get better.
“And at the same time, I think they knew right away, it didn’t take very long,” McDaniels added. “We weren’t even on the plane, and they knew that there’s a lot of areas where we need to improve, and we can improve. I loved our attitude this morning. I’ve already seen everybody this morning. So, they have a great focus. It’s about trying to fix the things that they didn’t do well, individually, or collectively as a unit, which obviously will only help our team.”
A couple of areas the Raiders struggled in Sunday were ones that were issues for the team last season as well. Chief among them is penalties, as the Raiders were flagged 10 times in Denver, costing themselves 97 yards. Quite simply, that is something that simply can not be maintained if the Raiders plan on keeping up their winning ways.
Additionally, the team continues to struggle to get to the quarterback as they pressured Russell Wilson just five times on 34 dropbacks. In the end, getting the win is most important, and the Raiders were the only AFC West team to do so in Week 1, but McDaniels team knows they have to be better, and they are already focused on doing just that.