Monthly Archives: September 2017
As someone who has written a lot of sports headlines, I usually reserve scraps for the worst of the beatings. The Raiders have a good chance at applying that sort of beating on the Jets today. New York is clearly tanking and rebuilding while the Raiders have Super Bowl aspirations. Still, Oakland has to take care of business. How can the Silver and Black give their home crowd a victory?
Can you name a Jets offensive lineman? Exactly.
The Raiders defensive line looked good against a great Titans offensive line. This young group did a good job of holding the line of scrimmage and getting off the ball.
However, they need to finish on the quarterback this week. The Jets have the offensive line and quarterback that should give Bruce Irvin and Khalil Mack a chance at multiple sacks. I’d love to see one of the defensive tackles cement themselves as the starter. The Raiders kept a steady rotation last week but that should tight up as the season moves along.
Eddie Vanderdoes looked good but he still has a lot to work on in terms of his pad level, hands and play recognition. Jelly Bean Ellis also played well. It looks like he’s finally in shape. Mario Edwards Jr. seemed like he’s fully recovered from last year’s injury. Either way, the starting DTs will be critical moving forward. Hopefully, they can get some pressure,
Protect Derek Carr
For all the things that the Jets lack, they don’t lack a strong defensive line. Between Muhammad Wilkerson and Leonard Williams, the Raiders offensive line faces a great test in run and pass assignments.
Last week, the Raiders offensive line played really well in the run game. They held double teams well and got up to backer which helped out Marshawn Lynch a lot.
Still, Oakland had a few lapses in pass protection. Overall, they played well in blitz pickup but there were some stunts that caught the Raiders slipping.
This week, I expect New York to revisit some of this stunt and twists. The Jets use a 3-4 defense like the Titans so New York will also try to create some confusing blitzes. Additionally, the Jets should use their safeties in run support as well as blitzes. Oakland can’t let these safety looks confuse them. They’ve got to protect the QB no matter where the blitzes come from.
Again, the Raiders Xs and Os aren’t going to change much from week to week. Nonetheless, the Raiders need to enter this game the same way as if the Jets were relevant. It’s the home opener and Oakland deserves to see an ass whooping considering the team will leave in plus or minus three years.
Hence, Oakland can’t come out slow or soft cause the Jets are sorry. This is the type of game that can help the Silver and Black build momentum. It is the type of game that will haunt them in playoff positioning if they are upset. This is the biggest favorite the Raiders have had in a long time. It’s up to them to have that winning mentality that exceeds those high expectations.
For months, I’ve circled this as a trap game on the Raiders schedule. The Titans are trending in the same direction that the Raiders were a year ago. Tennessee is a young team on the rise and their looking for a statement win early. Meanwhile, the Raiders have a ton of pressure on them from an offseason filled with hype.
As a matter of fact, I actually picked against my favorite team. It should come as a surprise given that Oakland barely beat the TItans in 2015 and 2016. Not to mention, the Raiders still have the same questions, at all levels of their defense, as they did in each of those seasons. Obi Melifonwu was expected to help with some of the liability in the secondary but he is headed to IR. Gareon Conley could make his debut but it is unclear how effective he will be after missing most of the offseason.
All that pessimism aside, let’s see how Raider Nation can come home with a win. Here are the Raiders keys to a victory in Tennessee.
Defensive Tackle Play
Once again, the Raiders defense will be determined by their inside interior linemen. Especially for this game, the Raiders DTs, NTs, and DEs will need to push the pocket to create pressure on Marcus Mariota. If they can do this, Mariota will be forced to the outside which will allow Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin to finish the young stud QB. This also keeps the Raiders from having to blitz every play. Oakland will need extra help in coverage as the Titans employ Delanie Walker as one of the best TEs in the league. The Raiders are notoriously bad at covering the tight end so hopefully you have Walker in your DFS this week.
Otherwise, Mariota can step into the pocket and create himself running and passing lanes. Added time means the Raiders secondaries and corners could get beat by the likes of Corey Davis.
Moreover, the Raiders DTs will also be critical for protecting the inside backers. Derrick Henry and DeMarcco Murray might combine for the scariest backfield in the NFL. Their offensive line is just as scary and dominate as any other group in the league. Thus, the defensive line is in for a physical battle.
Depending who you ask, this defensive tackle group is either young or unproven. Between Jihad Ward, Mario Edwards Jr. Denico Autry, Treyvon Hester, Jihad Ward, Jelly Ellis, Darius Latham and Eddie Vanderdoes it is unclear if any player is ready to dominate. It remains to be seen if any of those players will ever become consistent NFL starters. Either way, they have a big opportunity this week.
Pound the Football
Much of the talk is about Murray and Henry. However, the Raiders have their own slate of backs. We finally get to see Marshawn Lynch in full Beast Mode. Much of the offseason talked about him returning home. Raiders fans finally get to see their hometown hero full speed versus another team.
Added, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington should see some run too. They will be critical to spelling Lynch and keeping the defense on their toes. Both men are great pass catchers, they’re hard to tackle and they can take it to the endzone on any touch. Washington and Richard should keep Lynch fresh. We should see a heavy dose of both until one man runs away with the second RB job.
Ultimately, expect the Raiders to pound the football. Their offensive line and running backs are too good not to run the ball 60 percent of the time in this game. This will be critical to neutralizing the Titans plethora of zone blitzes and edge rushers.
Live up to the Moment
The Raiders are in a new position. Oakland is many people’s Super Bowl pick. They have a Pro Bowl quarterback and a bunch of skills players on people’s fantasy teams. The Silver and Black will have the entire mainstream watching them as they start a quest for a Lombardi Trophy with the cloud of relocation hanging over the great city of Oakland. Can the Raiders live up to the hype?
Oakland can not run from the big moments in this game or the rest of the season. Things will go wrong in this game but the Raiders have been their before. They must play like they are a Super Bowl contender from the opening kick off versus Tennessee. The Raiders need to set the tone by playing full speed even when adversity hits on the road versus the Titans.
I don’t expect this will be a problem for them. Oakland has Jack Del Rio at head coach and Derek Carr at QB. Players will run through walls for either of those great leaders. Not to mention, that duo has already lead some great comebacks over the past two seasons. Now, they must dominate games as the favorite. They got to beat the Titans like it is no competition.
The Raiders will always be underdogs, yes. Just last week CBS Sports ranked the Chargers over the Raiders. Either way, we embrace the underdog image as Raiders fans. However, this year the Silver and Black must learn to function in the spot light. This game against the playoff contending Titans is the first step in that process.