We are only in week two of the 2014 season and the Raiders already look like they're in ‘maybe next year' mode. They are 0-2 with losses to the Jets and the Texans and looked worse this week than they did in the opener. This time losing by a final score of 30-14. But the score was not indicative of how lopsided this one was.
It's times like these when detailing individual performances can offer some solace that it wasn't all bad. It can also help to make some sense to why things went as poorly as they did in a game that was 27-0 heading into the fourth quarter and a Raiders team that gave up touchdowns on the first two drives, followed by turning the ball over four times through the course of the rest of the game.
With a line like that, there's not a whole lot more that needs to be said in a 30-14 embarrassment in the Raiders 2014 home opener. But I'll say more anyway.
With as often as the defense was on the field in this game, there was plenty of time for the cream to rise to the top. And while his fellow linebackers were getting pushed around on the block, Mack was not. The result was two safeties leading the team in tackles, followed by Mack with six solo tackles. He had a run stuff tackle for one yard on the Texans' second drive that set up a third and six. They, of course converted. On the following drive, with the Texans in third and goal at the 15-yard-line, he tipped the ball at the line to force a field goal. The next drive, he burst into the backfield, causing his man to be penalized for holding. Unfortunately it was off-set by a Sio Moore taunting penalty.
On the Texans' first drive of the second half, Mack again got into the backfield on the next drive to put a hit on Ryan Fitzpatrick and force an incompletion. Two plays later, the Raiders gave up the touchdown pass. He ended the next drive, when he streaked over to tackle the wide receiver for a three-yard gain in third and five. The Texans settled for a field goal. He had a run stuff for no gain on the next drive to help force another field goal. He ended the next drive too with a run stuff for a loss of one. That was the final defensive play of the day for the Raiders. Great day for the rookie. But he couldn't save this team from itself.
With the issues on the Raiders line and in the linebacking corps, Branch was putting in overtime in this game. He led the team with 11 tackles (9 solo) and didn't give up a catch. He had run stuff on each of the first two Texans drives and two run stuffs on each of the next two drives to hold them to a field goal and force the first Texans punt. He had a run stuff for one yard on third and nine on the next drive to force another punt. That's eight tackles at halftime. The Raiders may have been down 17-0, but it was not because of Tyvon Branch. A couple series into the third quarter, he had two more run stuffs. Then he ended the Texans' next drive when he tackled the running back for a 7-yard gain on third and 24. This is by far more work against the run than any team wants from a safety. And the results in the overall game bear that out. Just think how bad it would have been if Branch hadn't been there (ie Brandian Ross). Eesh.
Penn lucked out tremendously in this game because the Texans were without Jadeveon Clowney. He still faced J.J. Watt plenty of times and kept Watt in check. Penn deserves a lot of credit for holding down his side of the line and giving up just one hurry in the game. That means no sacks, no hits, no penalties. There was one instance where his man tackled Darren McFadden for a loss but that was because McFadden didn't go inside Penn's block as he should have and instead tried to stretch it out wide.
Hard to believe in a game where the opposing running back racked up 138 yards on the ground that the starting nose tackle would be a Baller. The thing is, when the Texans tried to run at Sims, that's when they were unsuccessful. They got their big yardage elsewhere (no doubt you'll see where in the second half of this article). Sims had five solo tackles in this game which is very good numbers for a nose tackle. That's the second best solo tackle total of Sims' career.
After the Texans went up 17-0, they went conservative. That's when Sims started holding down the middle and getting run stops. On that next drive, he had a stuff for a one-yard gain. Right after that, he got around his man, who was called for holding. Along with his four other solo tackles, he helped contain the runner on the Texans' final drive on third and 7 which allowed Mack to get the tackle for loss.
There are two different Derek Carrs. There is the Derek Carr when he's being blitzed, and the Derek Carr when he's not. There is a sizable difference between these two players. He had a 78.9 QBR and a 91.1 passer rating when not blitzed. That drops to a 4.2 QBR and a 43.1 passer rating when he is blitzed. By the way, that 4.2 QBR when blitzed is second worst in the NFL right now. His pocket presence still very much needs work.
The Raiders had the ball all of 1:25 in the first quarter of this game. That was mostly the fault of the defense but the offense going three-and-out didn't help matters. That series ended with Carr throwing off target and incomplete intended for an open James Jones.
On the following drive, Carr became the Raiders leading rusher on one play in which he sold the read option and showed his speed through a gaping hole on the right to go for 41 yards. The party didn't last long, however, when he threw an interception three plays later which was returned 65 yards to the Oakland 24-yard-line. It set up another Texans' score on a field goal to make it 17-0.
That 17 points turned out to be all the Texans would need because the Raiders offense could only muster up 14 points in this game on two touchdowns, the second coming with the game already lost. I am by no means blaming the loss on Carr (If I were, he wouldn't be a Betweener). He did some good things. But he also had two interceptions and struggled to throw on target on the move or under duress, which was detailed in the blitz/non-blitz numbers above.
He quietly had nine catches for 112 yards and a touchdown. The main reason it was so quiet is because the only thing anyone really remembers is the ‘Unholy Roller' (you're welcome). That was the catch he had late in the second quarter where he fumbled it, picked it back up, ran toward the endzone only to fumble it again and have it recovered by the Texans at the three-yard-line. When he recovered his own fumble initially, it looked like he might score or at least put the Raiders in position to score. Nope.
Otherwise, he had a good game. His touchdown came too late to matter as the Raiders were still down 30-14 with :13 seconds left on the clock.