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Detroit Lions vs. Raiders: 3 burning questions ahead of Monday Night Football

DETROIT — The Detroit Lions (5-2) have a date with the Las Vegas Raiders (3-4) ahead of their bye week on Monday Night Football from Ford Field. We’ll answer three burning questions ahead of kickoff below.

Does it matter who starts at quarterback for the Raiders?

To an extent, yes. But, not much.

Jimmy Garoppolo (back) returned to practice for the Raiders in the week leading into this game. So, much like Dan Campbell thought, it looks like it’ll be the veteran back under center.

The Raiders have turned the ball over more than any other offense in the league. And that’s been a problem whether it’s been Garoppolo, rookie Aidan O’Connell or veteran Brian Hoyer.

Garoppolo has thrown eight interceptions through only five starts. O’Connell turned the ball over four times in his lone start. And Hoyer got ran out of Chicago by the lowly Bears last week, passing for only 129 yards with two interceptions of his own.

The Raiders have struggled to run and protect the ball this season. And while Garoppolo leads a crisper ship, with a solid connection with star receiver Davante Adams, it’s hard to feel fear over any of the options coming out of Las Vegas.

“I think we hang our hat on really what their identity has been,” Campbell said. “There’s things that they really want to do no matter who’s in there and they’re not going to deviate too much from that. They’ll have a few wrinkles, but ultimately, it’s about the scheme and those players that they have. And the quarterback, whoever they have in there, is going to facilitate the ball, is going to run the offense, they play good defense. And so, we’ll take it as it comes.”

With Marvin Jones out, what can be expected from Jameson Williams?

Marvin Jones’ departure doesn’t change the big picture concerning targets around these parts. But Jones had logged 178 offensive snaps through five games, so there is a role to fill in Detroit.

But there aren’t going to be many weeks where the Lions are forced to throw the ball, fully abandoning the run, the way they did last week in Baltimore. That point comes up because Jameson Williams drew a career-high six targets, including the first of the day in Week 7.

Williams failed to catch any of those targets, with Pro Football Focus grading him as the worst offensive player for the Lions on a very ugly day. He was credited with two drops and likely got bumped down for the route on Jared Goff’s interception with nobody in the end zone.

And while the electric wide receiver is surely part of the offensive plan of attack moving forward. Last week’s game was another reminder that it takes more than speed and confidence to make an impact at this level, no matter how fast or confident one feels.

“Time on task still. And I know it’s beating a dead horse by saying that, but some guys take longer than others to develop a rapport with and we just — we frankly aren’t there yet,” Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson said. “So, we’ll continue to work on it and it’s going to come and when it does come, I think we’re all going to be pleased.

“Yeah, it’s repetition, time and time again. I think I’ve alluded to it before with him, consistent days, stacking up, back-to-back-to-back, and that’s really all we’re focused on, us and him. So, we’ll continue to see improvement from his play as he continues to get more reps.”

How much of an impact can Raiders EDGE Maxx Crosby have on the game?

More than most, honestly.

Watching Maxx Crosby play at this level, and to do it the way he does, shouldn’t be taken lightly.

Crosby plays more snaps than any other defensive lineman in the game. Crosby also led all defensive linemen in snaps played last season, so this isn’t a new trend. And he produces nearly better than any other defensive lineman around, which also isn’t a new trend.

The former Eastern Michigan star was second in the NFL with 81 pressures created last season. He’s already got 43 through seven games this season, sitting atop the league in that category. Crosby also notched a career-high 12.5 sacks while ranking as the fourth-best run defender (per PFF) and second in run-stop win rate (ESPN) at his position in 2022.

And he hasn’t slowed down in that category, notching a sack in all but one game this season.

“Yeah, I mean, what does he not do well? I would start there, I don’t know,” Campbell said. “I don’t know what that would be. He’s very active, alright. He’s slithery. He can bend. He’s explosive, quick first step. He’s very crafty, man. He’s a master of his craft, man. His hands, his bend and then his motor. I mean he just doesn’t quit.

“And so, he’s disruptive in the run game and the pass game is not only what you see off the edge or his ability to pressure the quarterback, but it’s getting the football out too. It’s one thing to get a sack on a guy, but he’s getting the ball out if he gets around the horn.”

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