INGLEWOOD, Calif. — As expected, Davante Adams was as advertised.
Sure hands. Seemingly always open. Great in space and on the run after the catch (are those Asante Samuel Jr.’s shoes still on the SoFi Stadium turf after getting faked out of them on Adams’ 41-yard catch and run?).
But Adams’ 10 catches for 141 yards and a 3-yard touchdown Sunday in his debut for the Las Vegas Raiders were not enough. Not when the guy throwing him the ball, quarterback Derek Carr, is harassed into six sacks, fumbles twice and throws a career high-tying three interceptions.
Yes, Adams was brilliant for Carr, his old Fresno State teammate, and Las Vegas, but he needs help if the Raiders want to end up on the positive end of the scoreboard going forward. There was no more evidence of that than in their 24-19 loss to the Los Angeles Chargers.
“Felt great, felt great,” said Adams, who was acquired in a blockbuster March trade with the Green Bay Packers, of catching passes from Carr in a game for the first time since 2013. “Obviously, we’re not really trying to take any moral victories out of it, but we did a lot of good things out there, a lot of good stuff to build off of. But we did fall short.”
Carr targeted Adams six times in the first quarter, 17 times overall, tied for the third-most targets Adams has ever had in an NFL game, and no, the receiver was not surprised by his workload. But yes, he kept the football from his first score with the Raiders, the 74th TD of his career.
“That’s what they brought me here for, to be a big part of this offense and help move the ball and put points on the board,” Adams said. “That’s my job. That’s what I’m ready to do. I mean, I’m a volume-type guy, so I’m always ready for that. And if the game goes any other type of way, then we’ll adjust and we’ll deal with that, too. But that means that somebody else is probably, you know, handling their business and we’re able to move the ball.
“The most important part is for this offense and team to do well, obviously. But if I’m a big part of it on any given week I’m expecting that.”
And keeping that football?
“It’s just kind of turning the page and starting a new chapter in my career,” Adams said. “So to be able to get in the end zone for my childhood team is something that means a lot to me. We obviously didn’t end up winning the game with it, but at the end of the day, it still means a lot.”
Carr, meanwhile, said he was being too “aggressive” on his interceptions — underthrowing tight end Darren Waller streaking up the middle, underthrowing Adams on a deep ball to the end zone and throwing behind Hunter Renfrow on a crossing pattern — and acknowledged that he and Adams had a talk in the locker room after the game.
Because while Carr threw three picks against the Chargers after throwing three total interceptions in his previous nine games against them, Adams’ score was his 25th receiving TD in the red zone since the start of the 2020 season, five more than any other player in the NFL over that span, per ESPN Stats & Information.
“We did some good things,” said Carr, who completed 22 of 37 attempts for 295 yards with two TDs and the three INTs for a 69.1 passer rating, his lowest such rating since Week 5 last season against the Chicago Bears in Jon Gruden’s final game as Raiders coach (which also came against former teammate Khalil Mack, who sacked Carr three times Sunday in his Chargers debut).
“We had some production, but I think we can be better, and so does he. It is exciting to get out there and play with him and have him in the mix of Hunter, Darren and the backs. I mean, first play, I go right to [Adams] and it wasn’t like some big celebration. It was like, ‘Alright, cool, next one.’ You know, I’ve thrown thousands of footballs in my life. It’s exciting to play with him … and I will be better about being too aggressive in situations when I don’t have to.”
To wit, Carr targeted Waller and Renfrow six times apiece, though Waller’s went for 79 yards on four receptions and Renfrow only 21 on three catches.
Despite Carr’s struggles — and an offensive line that saw four different permutations, with Dylan Parham and Lester Cotton Sr. rotating at right guard and Jermaine Eluemunor and Thayer Munford Jr. subbing for each other at right tackle — the Raiders were still in position for another unlikely comeback win. Las Vegas trailed by five points and had the ball at its own 21-yard line with 3:30 to go and all three timeouts at their disposal.
It was not to be, though, with Carr suffering back-to-back sacks on third and fourth down and fumbling both times (Las Vegas recovered both).
“We beat ourselves,” Adams said. “And that’s not taking anything away from that team over there because that’s a really good team. They did a lot of really good things. But you turn the ball over the way that we did today and you still have an opportunity to go down and win, it says a lot about you as a team.”
“Nobody wins the season in Week 1. That’s just the fact of the matter. We’re going to come back and we’re going to be hard on ourselves because that’s the type of team we are.”
One that needs more than Adams to step up.