A lot has changed since the Raiders last won a road game in 2013. Even more has changed since their last victory in the Eastern Time Zone that came in 2009. But, the biggest change has been the mentality and talent of this Oakland Raiders roster. All that was on display in the team's week 3 victory against the Cleveland Browns.
With that being said, it's time to hand out some grades for the offense.
Derek Carr had another solid game behind center. He completed 20 of 32 passes for 314 and two touchdowns. Carr continued to show signs of growth and poise as the leader of the offense. Many of his throws were on target and he never seemed to force a ball where it couldn't go. Carr continues to spread the wealth as he connected with 8 different receivers. He continuously put his guys in position to make plays and that's what a good QB does.
So, why the A-? Well, there were a few times that he missed open targets or rushed throws despite having plenty of time to make a decision. That might be nit-picking, but it just goes to show that Carr is growing and becoming a true franchise QB.
Running Backs: A
The running game finally got rolling against the lowly Browns run defense. After a slow start for Latavius Murray (1 yard on first 7 carries) he got going late in the first half. Murray finished with 139 yards on 26 carries and added in his second touchdown of the season. He's beginning to show signs of being the "cow bell" fans have been waiting for and coaches have been expecting him to be. Add in the change of pace style from Taiwan Jones, it gives the Raiders a dynamic 1-2 punch in the backfield that they haven't had in a while. The unit also produced in the passing game. Murray had a reception for 10 yards, Roy Helu, Jr. caught one ball for 12 yards and Marcel Reece showed off his power and speed for a 55 yard catch in the third quarter. Not every defense is like the Browns, but Sunday's game is one that the backfield can build off of.
Offensive Line: A
This was a great performance by the big guys in the trenches. They kept pressure to a minimum and opened up lanes for the running backs to run through. Despite a few early penalties, the O-line settled down and made life for the Browns defensive line difficult. Cleveland had 7 sacks thru the first two weeks, but came away empty handed against the Silver and Black. Heck, the Browns didn't even register a QB hit in this game. They got into the backfield early on to disrupt the run game, but Rodney Hudson and Co. quickly put a halt to that. It was the kind of dominating performance that shows how much the offense opens up when the offensive line controls the line of scrimmage.
Tight Ends: C
Not much to say here. Lee Smith was the only TE to catch a pass as the rest of the unit was kept quiet. Coaches have said they want to get the squad going and have them become a bigger part of the offense, but thru three games that has not been seen. Mychal Rivera had a few passes come his way, but came up empty handed. If this part of the offense gets going then it'll add more weapons to Carr's arsenal.
Wide Receivers: A-
Rookie Amari Cooper is continuing to show how polished of a receiver he is, despite a fumble in the fourth quarter. He had his second straight 100-yard receiving game (8 rec, 134 yards) and is becoming a main target for Carr. Cooper won the battle versus Pro Bowl CB Joe Haden, especially on the opening drive for 3 rec and 54 yards. He isn't the only rookie making an impact in this unit. Undrafted Seth Roberts caught his 2nd touchdown pass of the season to go along with his 3 receptions for 56 yards. Michael Crabtree added 4 receptions for 36 yards while Andre Holmes' lone catch was a 3-yard TD reception. There were a few dropped balls and missed opportunities, but overall it was another strong showing from this growing WR unit.
Overall offensive grade: A-
Jack Del Rio and his coaching staff are beginning to get this team playing as one cohesive unit and it showed on Sunday. All three phases of the Raiders looked prepared and ready to attack the Browns. Del Rio implemented a mentality of professionalism and having his guys mentally and physically prepared while traveling on the road. It showed early and often. Guys were in place to make big plays on all sides of the ball. The defense notched up the pressure and the offense was a balanced attack. There are still some issues remaining, mainly penalties and inability to cover the opponents' TE, but those are problems that can be fixed and this staff has shown they can make adjustments.