Do you remember the last time the Raiders were 5-2? Not even kidding here, there is an entire generation of teenagers that weren't even ALIVE the last time the Oakland Raiders were 5-2 because it hasn't happened since 2001. Well, actually that team was 6-1 before having their 2nd loss but that really was the last time the Raiders started a season this well.
This game against the Jaguars wasn't always pretty football, but it was efficient football. It may not be fun watching the way the Raiders played in the 2nd half of this game because they played it so conservatively, but they did so because they knew they would win if they just didn't make any big mistakes in the final 2 quarters of football.
There is no question that playing with the pedal to the metal on offense with this team is a lot more entertaining to watch, but it doesn't really matter as long as the final result is getting the win. They didn't need to be flashy in this game so they weren't, but that doesn't mean they weren't capable of it. A lot of people get annoyed when the offense isn't flying like they can, however that disregards that sometimes it's more important to be safe than sorry.
The best stat of this game didn't belong to an individual player, it was the team stat of 3 Jacksonville turnovers to zero from the Raiders. They played safe, conservative football and won 33-16. That is awesome, they weren't even trying to score that hard and they still got 33 points. Talk about an awesome offense to have.
This game wasn't about that awesome offense though, it was about the defense finally showing how well they can play together. There is no way to sugarcoat it, outside of the Titans game this season the defense has been awful. Yesterday, though against a struggling Blake Bortles and the Jaguars offense, the defense was awesome.
The only reason Bortles ended up with almost 250 yards passing was because of the prevent defense that Oakland started playing once they had a big lead. They only gave up a handful of big plays instead of the usual ridiculous amount of them and they trusted each other to be in the right positions instead of trying too hard.
The result was a resounding victory for the Raiders against a Jaguars team that was desperate to win this game. The Jags were the talk of the off-season, even more than the Raiders were in fact. Then they started out 0-3 but won the previous 2 games so this would have gotten them back to .500 on the year. The game was huge for them, and the Raiders led it from the beginning to the end.
Obviously, the offensive player of the game was Michael Crabtree. His catch on the deep ball just before the end of the half was absolutely awe inspiring. On the run, finger tip grab while flipping head over heels and he still caught the thing. He deserved to get the touchdown a couple of plays later and that play was what turned the game completely to the Raiders side.
It seems like every week we talk about Crabtree being great for the Silver and Black. Amari Cooper was held in check almost entirely through this game, but it didn't even matter because the Raiders had another #1 quality receiver on the opposite side in Crabtree. Oakland's resurgence that we are currently in might not be happening at all if Reggie McKenzie doesn't take a chance on the diva receiver who wore out his welcome in San Francisco.
Another player who makes this team so much better than what they are without him is Latavius Murray. His 18 carries for 59 yards isn't that impressive on the outside but the team just seems so much more confident when he is in there. He also is about as good of a goal line back as there is with 2 more touchdowns to add to his season total.
Murray is in a contract year and there is a lot of talk about the Raiders moving on from him instead of paying a pretty penny to keep him. After watching this team play the last two games without him and then play this confidently with him it seems like it would be a mistake to not keep him around. He has the intangibles that this team needs from the running back position.
Changing tracks, what more can be said about Raiders punter Marquette King? He is the best punter in football and yesterday he finally got to show off his speed on a huge 27 yard scamper on a broken play. I have never had my favorite player for the Raiders be their punter, despite having amazing punters time and time again. It might be time to hand that honor over to Mr. King though. The guy is amazing and entertaining as all hell besides being as great as he is on the field.
Last but not least about this game, the coaching was absolutely outstanding. All facets of the team were coached well yesterday. It might not have always been exciting but they masterfully controlled this game even if it was a little boring at times. Every coach had their hand in this victory, which isn't something you get to say very often.
It has to be such a great feeling for Jack Del Rio specifically though to finally get his chance to coach against the team that he helmed for so many years. Del Rio was the head coach for the Jaguars for 8 years and those were the golden years for this young Jacksonville team. He hadn't had a chance to face them since they fired him in 2011, but he got his sweet revenge yesterday finally.
Del Rio also made a great decision for next week's game by staying in Florida this week since they play Tampa Bay next. Why bother flying cross country that many times in a 2 week span when they could just stay there in sunny Florida. That's the type of decision that a former player thinks about and logically just plain makes sense. Hopefully it pays dividends for the team in what will be a tough match against the Buccaneers.
Tampa's young QB Jamis Winston has been having a great year and his favorite target Mike Evans is an absolute beast to cover. These guys love going for the big plays and the Raiders defense has been known to get beaten this season. This will be a tough game for Oakland, but if they win they will be 6-2 and the country will be jumping back on their bandwagon that they so eagerly jumped off of after the ugly loss to Kansas City.