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Oakland Raiders versus Tennessee Titans: Turn Up or Turn Down

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.

 

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Oakland Raiders at New Orleans Saints: Monday Morning Takeaways

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 at New Orleans Saints: Quick Hits

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?!

Reaction to Raiders’ first official depth chart

Depth Chart via Raiders.com.

Depth Chart via Raiders.com.

The Oakland Raiders released their first depth chart, Aug. 10. Headlining some of the surprises are some position changes and incumbents who have fallen behind because of injuries.

Khalil Mack shocked a lot of people, because he is listed as DE. It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone who follows the team, because they have been adamant about him rushing the passer. My worries are about his long-term development. How many times did Jacksonville need a DE when JDR was head coach there?

Speaking of high draft-picks. D.J. Hayden claimed his rightful spot a top the depth chart. Then again, it shouldn’t be an accomplishment for the player drafted No. 12 in 2013. Moreover, it is a testament to the lack of talent the Raiders have at the position. Regardless, Hayden has displayed the right mentality so far in the offseason. Hayden said he plans to play all-out, without worrying about mistakes.

Then there were the snubbs. Rod Streater has yet to practice in training camp, so it is no surprise he has fallen behind. The Raiders have signed lots of competition at the position. Streater has the versatility to reclaim the spot, however, the coaching staff needs to see it.

Other injured players tumbling include Sio Moore. He is listed as a Will linebacker on the depth chart. The Will and Sam have some slightly different specifics, but I think Moore is better fitted at the Sam. Either way, he faces a tough challenge getting back into the starter role. Ray-Ray Armstrong has the coaching staff praising him constantly. Then there is the starting Will, former Super Bowl MVP, former Trojan and Seahawk Malcolm Smith. Smith’s versatility in coverage better suits the other two linebackers. Plus, Ken Norton Jr. is familiar with him from Seattle.

How about the Raiders other top position battles?

Well, the right tackle position has pretty much been Menelik Watson’s to lose. The former second round pick is listed as the starter, despite missing some time. Austin Howard and his $6 million dollars who? The tight end position will probably be an on-going one, throughout the season.

Mychael Rivera is listed as a No. 2, despite media praising him as a camp stand-out. His chemistry with Derek Carr gives him an advantage over the rookie third round pick Clive Watford. However, Lee Smith is the one getting the nod for the first pre-season bout. The primary blocker listed as a starter probably has more to do with the offense’s commitment to running the ball then anything else.

Remember Trent Richardson? Vic Tafur said his chances of making the team were 50/50, but I would put them higher. Helu is currently listed as the No. 2 runner behind Latavius Murray. However, Helu is primarily a receiving back. With Marcel Reece and Rivera taking most of the snaps at H-back, Helu might be repetitive. Maybe, just maybe, Richardson can seize the spot. The slimmed down Richardson has too much potential not to.

Yes, it is only preseason. Lets not read into these too much just yet. Not to be corny, but it is not where you start on the depth chart, but where you finish. The Raiders will sort out their depth chart more in a preseason game against the Rams.

Raiders Draft 2013 Pt.1

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Now that the dust has settled on the NFL draft and mini camps, it’s time to look at the Oakland Raiders Draft.

Reggie Mckenzie has received much praise for his work in the NFL Draft, after he was able to add a few picks in the draft via trade. Mckenzie was able to draft ten players after starting the draft with far less. The raiders high turnover rate has also left room on the roster for 12+ undrafted rookies, but the overall theme from Mckenzie and the Raider’s draft was competition.

At the top of the draft, The Raiders selected D.J. Hayden from the University of Houston. The rookie has been a huge story as he has been able to recover from an extremely rare football football injury. As for the football field, I think Hayden brings a variety of skills to the Oakland Raiders. His combination of size and speed make him a valuable defender in zone or man coverage. His instincts combined with his explosiveness give him the tools to be be an elite corner. If Hayden’s durability isn’t and issue, his work ethic and pure ability could make him the next shut down corner and a steal in the Draft. Reports from mini-camps have shown that Hayden has clearly been the best defensive back on the field.

After trading down in the First round, the Raiders were able to reclaim another 2nd round pick. With the pick they selected Menelik Watson from Florida State. The tackle has an interesting background where he came to the states for basketball. His limited football experience has made this pick a gamble. But his size and athleticism had many people giving Watson a first round grade in the pre-daft. This is a pick Al Davis would love, and Watson’s athleticism adds another element to the  Raiders Offensive like that is looking to continue improvement. While little wiz and Valdheer have two of the positions on the offensive line on lock, the other three positions are up for taking. Watson could be the anchor needed to protect the right side of the offensive-line if he continues to learn the game and is able to adjust to the strength of the next level.

Linebacker, Sio Moore from Uconn was drafted by the raiders in the third round. The Self proclaimed best linebacker in the draft has shown that he has the ability to rush the passer and drop in coverage at the collegian level. The confident linebacker adds a tenacity and swagger to an already improved line-backing core. The Raiders hope that this guy will be able to  rush the passer in both 3-4 and 4-3 looks. The linebacker will give competition to the free agent addition backers, Roach and Malava, but he will also improve the Raiders special teams.

Tyler wilson out of Arkansas was selected in the fourth round. The quarterback was graded as a high pick until a letdown senior season due to a coaching change at Arkansas. The quarterback adds a skill set different the Matt Flynn or Terrelle Pryror,and possess enough potential to atleast compete for the starting job.  Raiders Beat writer Jerry Mcdonald has said Wilson has looked better than previous raiders rookie’s Proyer, Russell, Walter, and Tuisosopo. The quarterback continued to impress media members with his accuracy all around the field, and his command of the huddle.

Overall, I think the Raiders maximized the amount of potential competition with their first four picks. They were able to select four players at key need positions who can become building blocks for them. Eventhough I would have liked to see them select an impact pass rusher or pass catcher, I think Mckenzie adressed other key positions. Hayden and Moore seem like they can be two potential impact players from the get-go, While Watson and Wilson seem like to players with very high ceilings. Overall the Raiders did a good job of adding competition to their roster by selecting players at good value positions. However, their real abilities will not be confirmed until they are in pads and on the field on Sundays.