Monthly Archives: September 2016
The Oakland Raiders (2-1) played a better defensive game as they held onto a road victory over the Tennessee Titans (1-2). Here are some reactions from the week three win.
Turn Up: The Secondary
Rookie safety Karl Joseph led the team in tackles during his debut as a starter. Meanwhile, free agency acquisitions corner Sean Smith and safety Reggie Nelson both registered interceptions. Not to mention, D.J. Hayden made some key tackles. T.J. Carrie made some plays in coverage on the final game. Also, David Amerson led the team with four pass deflections.
The Raiders secondary finally showed some ability. They still need to turn up their abilities to make up for the first two games, where they gave up more than 400 passing yards. However, this game showed a glimpse of their potential. Oakland will need the secondary to improve because they invested a ton of money into the unit during free agency.
Turn Down: Opponents’ Rushing Yards
Oakland got exposed in the running game, again. This time, Tennesse registered 181 rushing yards. The Silver and Black struggled tackling the Titans’ big running backs DeMarcco Murray and Derrick Henry.
Rookie linebacker Cory James showed some positives in his first start. However, the team still requires improved play in the middle of their defense. That starts up front with defensive tackle play. The Raiders’ under-sized linebackers need the big defensive tackles to eat space. This way, James and others can use their speed to get downhill and attack the ball.
Turn Down: Dropped Passes
The Silver and Black only scored 17 points, but it was a successful outing on the offensive side of the ball. Oakland could have dominated the ball more with better execution from their pass catchers.
Quarterback Derek Carr completed 21 of 35 passes for 249 yards and a touchdown in the game, but his team went scoreless in the second half. Some of that goes on the shoulders of receivers who dropped too many balls. Amari Cooper, Clive Walford, Andre Holmes, and Seth Roberts all took turns at failing to complete receptions. Some of them were bad throws or good plays by the defense, but they need to make the catches when the ball is in reach.
Turn Up: The Rushing Attack
Again, Oakland still dominated the line of scrimmage by registering more than 100 rushing yards in the game. Nonetheless, most of that success came from a 22-yard run from Latavius Murray and a 30-yard run from DeAndre Washington. Take those away and the unit was much less effective. Just look at Murray’s pedestrian 3.7 yards per carry.
Either way, Oakland’s rushing attack should get better once they get one of their top-three tackles back from injury. Starting right tackle Menelik Watson went down with another injury in this game and Vadal Alexander put together a solid outing in his first extended performance during Watson’s absence. Regardless, it would be nice to see this unit stay at full strength.
The Oakland Raiders and Tennesse Titans had even odds at the beginning of the week. Now, the week three game moved in the Titans’ favor, according to Silver and Black Pride.
One of the biggest reasons the Raiders could lose to the Titans is the defense.
How bad is the Oakland Raiders defense?
Here are some alarming numbers about the Raiders defense.
- The Raiders are the first team to have allowed more than 500 yards in each of their first two games, since the 1970 merger, per ESPN.
- The Raiders rank 23rd among NFL defenses in yards per carry with 4.5 yards per carry average. They also give up 404 passing yards per game.
- Opposing teams completed 54 of 76 passes for 808 yards, seven touchdowns (most in the NFL) and only one interception. *
- Oakland ranks No. 29 in opponent’s completion percentage (71.1 percent) and 32nd in opponent’s passer rating (131.4). *
- Football Outsiders ranks the Raiders 30th in defense-adjusted value over average, which calculates the Raiders’ defense to an average schedule of opponents. Oakland is last in pass defense and 28th in rush defense according to this metric.
- The Raiders rank 30th in sacks, with only two. Both came on the first drive in Weeks One and Two. Jihad Ward, Shilique Calhoun, Denico Autry, Williams, Justin Ellis, and Stacy McGee have combined for 10 pressures between them, according to PFF.
- Overall, the Raiders interior linemen grade poorly by PFF. Ellis ranks 58th among defensive interior lineman. Autry is tied for 60th. Darius Latham ranks 92nd, Ward ranks 101st, and Dan Williams ranks 108.
- The Raiders pressure QBs on just 21.8 percent of opponent’s dropbacks in two games, which is below the league average of 31 percent in 2016.
- Oakland can still not cover the tight ends. The Falcons tight ends caught 10 passes for 180 yards and a touchdown.
The Major Key to beating the Titans
Before we all discount the Raiders defense, let’s remember it is two games. Granted, it is two horrible games. However, Oakland has too much talent and wise minds on defense not to produce.
Remember, the Raiders brought in a lot of changing parts via the NFL Draft and free agency. It was foolish to expect the Raiders to not have growing pains. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. said this as he took some responsibility for the poor performance too.
Either way, the Raiders main key to victory remains the defense. Anyone who watched either game versus the Saints or Falcons can tell you that. Atlanta used Tevin Coleman and DeVonta Freeman to expose the middle of Oakland’s defense. The Saints relied on their crafty receivers.
Against the Titans, the Raiders defense must drastically improve.
Tennessee already proved they could move the ball in the third preseason game. Derek Henry and DeMarcco Murray could both bring outstanding fantasy performances versus the Raiders.
Not to mention, the Raiders still struggle covering the tight end. Now, Oakland faces one of the league’s best in Delanie Walker.
Further, Marcus Mariota is slowly becoming a dynamic player as he has completed 67 percent of his passes for four touchdowns, 509 yards, and two interceptions.
Ultimately, this game will come down to the Oakland making a play on defense. Last year’s matchup was a single score victory for the Raiders. Both teams improved since then, so it should be an interesting matchup.
On offense, Oakland has proven they can play with anyone. Quarterback Derek Carr lead the team on a game-winning drive in week one. He has only been sacked one time while finding a cast of different receivers.
The running game has been balanced. Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington both serve as the explosive change of pace backs behind Latavius Murray.
Therefore, do not expect the offensive game plan to change much.
Defensively, the Raiders will change it by integrated rookies Corey James and Karl Joseph. I’d also like to see more of Shilique Calhoun and Dan Williams.
Either way, their defensive effort can not get much worse. This is the biggest key to victory for the 1-1 Raiders.
Oakland will try to turn their defensive effort around at 10 A.M. PST on Sunday, Sept. 25 versus the Tennessee Titans.
However, Pro Football Focus has him third in the league with an 83 percent adjusted completion percentage.
Carr also has a chance to become the second QB in Oakland history to throw for at least 900 yards, per ESPN also. Rich Gannon was the first to do it during his 2002 Super Bowl and league MVP run.
Can Carr maintain his accuracy and increase his yards per completion? Will he continue with the dink and dunk?
“I’m going to do what’s best for the team in those situations. Obviously, you want to push the ball down the field.” Carr said. “As long as we’re staying explosive, I think that that’s the main thing that we want.”
Latavius Murray has gotten only 43 percent of Oakland’s rushes due to the success of rookies DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard. However, Murray is doing more with less, according to ESPN.
Murray got 57 yards on 8 carries versus the Falcons. He is averaging 5.3 yards per carry in two games.
“Regardless of when I go in there and how many times I go in there, I just got to do what I got to do when I’m in there.” Murray said.
Overall, the runner is catching the ball better and doing everything better. Hence, PFF has him graded as the best tailback. Murray is also top-five in yards after contact.
“This year I’m just making sure I use my size to my advantage, breaking tackles, trying to run through guys,” Murray said. “I guess when that ball is in my hands, whoever is on the other side of the ball became the victim of Angry Tay.”
After a great rookie year, it appears Amari Cooper is taking the next step, according to The Mercury News.
He has 11 receptions for 208 yards, with an average of 18.9 yards per catch.
Head coach Del Rio said:
“There’s a benefit in the experience he gained. I think we know more about him now in terms of the toughness he brings, and I think he understands more in detail about how to take care of himself and how demanding a season is for an NFL player.”
The Raiders will play rookie Corey James more on Sunday versus Tennessee, according to CSN Bay Area.
Starter Ben Heeney put up mixed results, but head coach Jack Del Rio said his backup Cowser is a ball magnent.
“It took some time to grow on me since OTAs and everything, but I think I’m getting more and more comfortable with it,” James said. “…I’m still learning, still working to get more comfortable with recognizing formations and things like that, but I still need work there. Playing and knowing the plays, I am pretty comfortable with that.”
As for how much James will play versus the Titans, Del Rio said there was no benefit to declaring the team’s plans.
Speaking of rookies getting more plenty time, first-round draft pick Karl Joseph should make his NFL debut.
Del Rio said he is impressed with Joseph’s attitude and overall work ethic via the Raiders.com
“I think the health issue is really kind of behind him now.” Del Rio said. “I feel good about that. I feel good about the way he’s preparing. Now we just look forward to all of us going out and playing well on Sunday.”
Ken Norton Jr.
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. took some of the blame for the Raiders’ poor defensive outings in two games, via SF Gate.
“ I’m accountable for it. We have to work harder, work better and we expect to come out of this.” Norton said.
The defensive coordinator said he still believes the team can turn it around.
“Again, no one said it was going to be easy. You’re going to have adverse times and those adverse times really reveal us, reveal who you are, and I think that the team has come together, come close.” Norton said. “You can tell the guys really care. No one wants to play as bad as we’ve played.”
The Oakland Raiders (1-0) will take the field for their home-opener versus the Atlanta Falcons (0-1) later today.
Here are a few predictions from today’s week two regular season game.
Receiver Michael Crabtree
Too much has been made about the matchup between Julio Jones and Amari Cooper as the two receivers were drafted from Alabama. Part of that comes from the mutual respect between the two elite wideouts. Both have complimented each other via various media outlets this week.
Neither player will actually cover each other. Not to mention, both defensive-focused head coaches will make sure their scheme includes different looks for each respective receiver.
Therefore, this game has the makings of Michael Crabtree’s breakout performance. The 29-year-old receiver caught 7-of-9 balls for 87 yards in week one. Now, he faces an Atlanta team that ranks No. 12 in passing yards to opponents after one game.
Expect Crabtree to build off his game-winning, two-point conversion last week.
Sean Smith versus Atlanta’s receivers
Speaking of receivers, the Raiders must defend Jones, who caught 136 passes for 1871 yards and 8 touchdowns last year.
He only had four catches, 66 yards and one touchdown versus the Tampa Buccaneers in week one. Look for Atlanta to try and establish him early.
Granted, Atlanta is only 5-4 when Jones eclipsed 100 receiving yards, according to Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton.
Hence, a big performance from Jones does not equal a win.
Still, Oakland will need corner Sean Smith to play better this week. Don’t expect Smith to shadow Jones as the Falcons’ No. 2 receiver Mohamed Sanu is also a big target.
Either way, the Raiders paid Smith via free agency to become their No. 1 corner. He will need to rebound from a poor performance last week. I think he will answer the call, regardless of who lines up in front of up.
The Raiders’ rushing attack
Currently, Oakland ranks No. 1 in rushing offense. Attribute most of that to a dominating performance by the offensive line. However, give some credit to rookie Jalen Richard for busting a long-run last week.
This week, Oakland will need another big rushing play. Latavius Murray should consistently gain yards as the feature back, but who can take a long run for points?
Will Richard hit another homerun? Could Taiwan Jones or DeAndre Washington get a turn to take it to the house?
The Raiders need the long runs to keep their offense balanced. Either way, this will be a prove it game for the Raiders rushing attack.
Atlanta: 24, Oakland: 31
Atlanta’s defense ranks No. 13 in rushing yards given up to opponents and No. 8 in rushing yards per attempt. That will change as Oakland will control the line of scrimmage and the clock with their running game. Even without their starting right tackle, Austin Howard is expected to replace Menelik Watson this week, Oakland will impose their will at home.
On defense, I expect the Raiders to rebound from getting shredded last week. It is reported that Ben Heeney lost his duties as the playcaller of the defense. Malcolm Smith will have to play better as he fills that role. Both players visibly struggled attack blocks and making tackles versus the Saints. Pro Football Focus graded Smith as Oakland’s worst defender last week. You can read more about last week’s struggle in the middle via ESPN insider Paul Gutierrez.
Smith and the entire unit will play better as the Raiders sort out their defensive line rotation. Expect Justin Ellis and Dan Williams to see more time in the middle as Atlanta fields a solid rushing attack behind Tevin Coleman and Devonte Freeman.
I like the Silver and Black by seven. This should be another thriller. Here is how you can view via Silver and Black Pride.
The Oakland Raiders enter Sunday’s home-opener as a 4.5 points favorite.
Here are three ways Oakland can answer this expectations with a home victory and their first 2-0 start since 2002.
Handle their business at the line of scrimmage
The Oakland Raiders managed the No. 2 overall offense in week one. Despite the points and yards, the Raiders were not flawless with the ball.
However, they always seemed in control because of their guys up front. The offensive line generated push and seems in the running game.
In the passing game, they did not allow a sack and helped quarterback Derek Carr control the game.
This week, Oakland must keep dominating the line of scrimmage. They will most likely be without two tackles starter Menelik Watson and backup Matt McCants. Hopefully, Austin Howard can return to form as he was the starter last year. He lost the role to Watson in a close race this offseason. The Silver and Black will lean on Howard to maintain balance when running to either side. They will also need him to maintain the momentum this group built last week.
Secondary must rebound
Against the Saints, everyone remembers Sean Smith getting dusted on a Brandin Cooks touchdown. Even before that play, Smith struggled with the acceleration and crafty route running of the New Orleans receivers.
Smith was not the only one, as D.J. Hayden and T.J. Carrie also left much to be desired during their snaps.
I mean Keith McGill was the highest grades defender according to PFF.
Really, our best defender was a safety who played corner a few months ago? Even after we invested all that money into the secondary via free agency and the draft.
This week, the entire group must rebound as they face the prototypical size and speed of Julio Jones and Marvin Jones – Jones to a lesser degree. Smith as well as David Amerson bring the size and ball skills to rival those two players. It should make for a fun matchup.
Improved middle of the defense
This next key ties into both of the last two. The same way Oakland needs to control the line on offense, the defense needs to do the same with stout tackle play.
The Saints stopped running the ball because their strength is passing. However, they exposed some deficiencies in our linebacker’s abilities to tackle and shed blocks. Some of that lands on the shoulders of the linemen upfront.
Further, the defensive line did not do the secondary a lot of favors. Outside of Bruce Irvin, the Raiders could not sack Brees. Granted, Brees is not easy to sack as he gets the ball out fast. Nonetheless, effective tackle play can help push the quarterback into the lanes of edge rushers. It can also mess up passing lanes. Irvin called out the guys in the middle in practice this week:
For the upcoming game, Oakland will need their interior defensive line to step up. The Falcons will try running the rock hard with Devonte Freeman and Telvin Coleman. Defensive tackles can make it easier for Ben Heeney and Malcolm Smith to make plays on them.
Plus, the Raiders will need to make Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan uncomfortable. This could lead to turnovers and sacks. Either way, it starts with improved play from the defensive tackles.
Oakland plays Atlanta at 1:25 P.M. PST on Sept. 18.
Earlier this week, Nike released their Color Rush line of uniforms for the NFL season.
The Oakland Raiders were seen in the white jerseys with a silver number. These uniforms resemble the AFL throwbacks that the Raiders have worn in the past.
Many fans were outraged that the jerseys were not all black.
Like most fans, I would love black jerseys with black pants. However, the object of the Color Rush uniforms remains selling jerseys. An all black uniform closely resembles what the Raiders already wear on the road.
Hence, I am okay with the white alternates. The Raiders are the team most known for their colors, so I think it is ironic that their Color Rush uniforms lack any real color.
Further, I think silver or grey jerseys with a black number would have been the easy way to maximize profit and please fans. Currently, Oakland does not wear silver uniforms. That would mean an extra uniform for fans to buy, and the grey or silver closely resembles the home white that Oakland wears.
Otherwise, a silver helmet would have been awesome too. A metallic black helmet would have been awesome too. However, those changes are too new-school for the Raiders’ tradition.
Either way, I am just glad the Raiders got an alternate jersey. I absolutely love our uniforms, but everyone will be pleased to see Oakland mix it up a little.
The Raiders will wear their new jerseys Dec. 8 versus the Kansas City Chiefs for Thursday Night Football.
Here are five lessons from the Oakland Raiders 35-34 defeat of the New Orleans Saints on Sept. 11.
The secondary needs work
Usually, you do not take much away from preseason football. However, the Raiders secondary showed signs of struggling during the exhibitions. This carried into the week one game with the Saints.
D.J. Hayden had some crucial penalties that kept some drives alive in the second-half. Willie Snead also got the best of Hayden from the slot.
Plus, Sean Smith got dusted for a 98-yard touchdown catch.
Even before that big play, Smith took his lumps against the New Orleans receivers.
Saints receivers Brandin Cooks and Snead both made plays. Snead registered 172 receiving yards, while Cooks got 143 yards.
That is way too many yards for a secondary group that was suppose to improve exponentially. The group may need more time playing together. However, the pass rush may also need to step their game up. Quarterback Drew Brees was only sacked one time.
The run defense?
Honestly, the New Orleans Saints got away from the run too early. Otherwise, maybe Oakland made some adjustments.
Either way, the Saints made some effective running plays in the first-half. Mark Ingrim dragged some defenders. However, that was not the case in the second-half. Not sure if that is attributed to an Oakland adjustment or if the Saints just liked what they were getting in pass coverage.
Ultimately, our run defense did some and bad. Inside linebacker Ben Heeney played his usual game. He did some good things, but struggled taking on linemen. Our defensive line played well versus the run in the second half. They also got drove back a few times.
Nonetheless, I need to see more from this group to determine how they will play.
Raiders are deep on the offensive line
Oakland had both of their right offensive tackles, Menelik Watson and Matt McCants go down versus the Saints. This is after they lost Austin Howard last week.
The team shuffled the line by moving Donald Penn from left tackle to right tackle. Meanwhile, Kelechi Osemele played left tackle and Jon Feliciano came in at right tackle.
This mismatched group did not prevent the Raiders from moving the ball via the run or pass. Clearly, this group is much improved from top to bottom. Hopefully, Oakland can get those guys back healthy.
Oakland plays to win
When was the last time Oakland started the season 1-0? More importantly, when was the last time you really thought the team could come back in a game that was a shootout?
Despite Oakland trailing in the second-half, you never felt like the game was out of reach. Further, the Raiders went to go and get the win.
They scored on the go ahead two-point conversion thanks to quarterback Derek Carr leading the drive.
Carr matured in yesterday’s game. He proved capable of leading a game-winning drive, and he did not play outsde of his normal abilitites. His decision-making seemed a little late, but Carr’s competitive toughness should never be questioned. Carr reminded us that, yesterday.
Oakland is deep at the skill position
The Silver and Blacked proved their offense can play with the best of them. Not only by the last-minute score, but Oakland played well throughout.
Eight different players caught passes and six players got rushing attempts. This shows Oakland’s depth and it illustrates a regime willing to utilize different players in positions that help the team.
Taiwan Jones, Seth Roberts, Clive Walford and Jamize Olawale made plays that kept the offense on the field. Latavius Murray, Jalen Richard, Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree all played their roles outstanding. Therefore, the Raiders have a group on offense.
Othere defenses should be scared as everyone will continue meshing together.
Oakland Raiders Head Coach Jack Del Rio said his team put on a gritty performance in a win over the New Orleans Saints. He said the team is learning how to win and close games.
“Let’s win it right now. I thought that we took some clock there at the end so they would not have as much (time). That is why we went for two after the score…..I let them know early in that drive (that we would go for it). I said, ‘When we go score here, we’re going to go for two and we’re going to win it right here.’ I said that right when the drive started.” The Raiders coach said about his decision to go for a two-point conversion that would decide the game.
Quarterback Derek Carr on the playcall:
“When I got the call, I took a deep breath, made sure my footwork was right, and just lobbed it up for Crab. That’s just my thought process. I say lob it up, but obviously trying to put it in a certain spot where he can make a play.”
Receiver Michael Crabtree said that the team practices that play so much that it becomes routine.
“He (QB Carr) gave me a great ball there, and he did that the entire game. That shows he trusts me. And it wasn’t a gutsy call at all, not at all. He (Coach Del Rio) has a lot of trust in us, and we have a lot of trust in him. I mean when you put in so much work in camp and in the preseason, I feel like all we have to do as players is execute.” Crabtree said after the game.
Added, the receiver said the team showed heart by not giving up when they were down late.
Fellow receiver Amari Cooper also said the team is learning how to win.
“When we got down late in the game, no one got upset about it,” said Cooper. “We just kept going. We were resilient today. We all knew we just had to keep playing and make plays.”
In the end, the Raiders offense proved they could keep pace with the high-octane New Orleans Saints offense. More importantly, the team never seem rattled. Despite sputtering on both sides of the ball in the second-half, Oakland seemed like they were the better team. The Silver and Black proved it by taking the win via the two-point conversion.
*Quotes released by the team website.
The Oakland Raiders begin their season 1-0, after a thrilling 35-34 win over the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints led 17-10 at halftime in the Super Dome.
Out of the second half, both offenses sputtered. Then the Saint hits on a deep pass that ignited them.
Oakland put together some drives also. Richard got a big-play that would lead to a tie game. Here are some big plays and points from the game.
- Raiders defense started the game with Bruce Irvin strip sack which ended the Saints’first drive. This lead to Sebastian Janikowski kick.
- Murray had 7 carries for 32 yards in the first half. Jalen Richard caught a pass. Taiwan Jones also got a carry but lost yards.
- Amari Cooper setup first touchdown of the season. Cooper caught two passes before the Latavius Murray 11-yard touchdown run. Cooper made a sprawling catch at the five before Murray punched it in for 10-3 lead.
- On defense, the secondary struggled in the first half. Sean Smith gave up a long pass play to rookie Michael Thomas. Brandin Cooks caught a touchdown pass with D.J. Hayden in coverage. Willie Snead tore up the Raiders from the slot. He caught a short touchdown pass on fourth down, but he consistently got open.
- Raiders offense punts on first drive after halftime as they trail 17-10 but defense holds Saints to the same. Richard gets nice punt return negated by holding.
- Sean Smith dusted by Brandin Cooks for 98-yard touchdown run. New Orleans takes 24-10 lead in the third.
- Crabtree came up big in the second-half. Raiders held to a field goal after a solid drive, Saints maintain a 24-13 lead.
- Matt McCants goes down at right tackle. Oakland moves Penn to fill his spot. Kelechi Osemele plays left tackle and Jon Feliciano comes in at left guard.
- Carr leads Raiders on a drive to start the fourth quarter. Finds Cooper on a deep pass after having lots of time in the pocket. Then throws a strike to Crabtree at the five. Jamize Olawale punches in the touchdown. The Silver and Black miss the two-point conversion, as the score is 19-24.
- Saints answer with a field goal drive. Mark Ingrim dragging defenders and Drew Brees dodged Raiders pass pressure. A questionable P.I. call keeps the drive alive.
- Richard busts 75-yard touchdown run that gives the Raiders a chance to tie the game. Carr then finds Cooper for two-point conversion. Game tied at 27.
- New Orleans scores after a deep pass to Snead is fumbled but then recovered by a fellow-Saints receiver. Brees throws fourth touchdown as they go up 34-27.
- Crabtree makes great catch on Raiders answering drive. Carr throws ball late, but Crabtree finds the ball. Raiders miss on some passes within the twenty. A pass interference call on Jalen Richard saves the drive on fourth down. Seth Roberts scores touchdown which ties the game at with less than a minute left. Crabtree catches two-point conversion to give Oakland 35-34 lead with :47 left in the game.
- Willie Snead catches a couple of passes in the middle of the field for the Saints. New Orleans kicked a 61-yard-filed goal attempt which was wide right.
Ultimately, the secondary struggling almost cost them the game.Hayden had some penalties and Smith got beat. They also had some questionable tackling from their linebackers. Carr’s decision making was also late. However, he did enough to lead the Silver and Black to their first win of the season.
What a game?!