While the Oakland Raiders didn't play as well as many of us would have hoped, there were some bright spots in the game as well as a number of total duds that need to be put on blast. Luckily the great Raiderdamus is here to do just that! Note that these lists are not Raider-specific and can apply to any part of the game going forward.
1) Raiders backup running backs
DeAndre Washington was simply electric in this game in both the rushing and passing attack, proving himself both a tough runner with vision and speed as well as solid hands with good route running skills. His inside slant to score the Raiders' first touchdown was a thing of beauty and he left the Tennessee linebackers in the dust. Washington did get lit up and fumbled the ball in the second half, but that was a vicious hit by Sean Spence and he was hung out to dry by Matt McGloin so I don't put that on Wash so much.
Jalen Richard had a nice kickoff return and showed toughness and skill in rushing the ball. He absolutely has a future in the NFL and unfortunately for George Atkinson III Richard looked like he deserves a spot on the Raider roster. Of course, as I write this Atkinson rips off a huge rush. Good problem to have I guess.
2) Anyone who drafted Derek Carr in their fantasy league
Derek Carr finished his night 12-18 for 169 yards and two touchdowns, leaving a third on the field at the end of the first half. The Raiders passed early and they passed often. Whether that's in line with their offensive philosophy or because the running game was struggling is irrelevant. Derek Carr is clearly the leader of the team and the focal point on offense.
This means that a more mature, third-year Derek Carr is going to not only help the Raiders tremendously as they try to make the playoffs this year, but he will also allow you to bypass the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Cam Newton and Andrew Luck in your fantasy league. 35 TD and 4000 yards is incoming, get that in the seventh round.
3) Raiders special teams
A major thorn in the Raiders' side for the last few years has been their punt and kickoff units both returning and coverage. On this night, all four units were spectacular, with the Raiders ripping off big returns with regularity and limiting the Titans' returners to very little. Marquette King was his usual awesome self and boomed his kicks into the stratosphere like the great Ray Guy before him. Hopefully the Raiders won't be punting as much as they usually do this season, but there's no doubt that King is a huge asset.
4) The Titans' backfield
The Titans in the last two seasons drafted the most recent Heisman Trophy Winner, which had not been done since the Lions selected Barry Sanders and Andre Ware consecutively in 1989 and 1990. Their skill and poise was on display against the Raiders, as Mariota looked extremely sharp and Henry looked every bit the back he was at Alabama, churning out tough yards while being patient with his blocks. Mariota finished 9/16 with 170 yards and three rushes for 20 yards. He and Henry, who gained 49 yards on twelve carries with a touchdown, will be keys for the Titans as they seek to make noise in the wide-open AFC South.
1) The Raiders defense
It looks like the loss of Mario Edwards hurt the Raiders defense again, as they looked no better against the Titans' offensive line than they did against Green Bay last week. The line was pushed off the ball way too much and the linebackers couldn't wrap up. Mariota's arm burned them play after play, and Sean Smith had two costly errors before settling down. David Amerson still can't tackle, but he did have a few good pass breakups. The caveat here is that Khalil Mack was being held and had hands in his face every time I cared to check, but the Raiders need to get used to not getting those calls.
2) Sean Smith
I really have to point Smith out in particular here. Smith went for a slick interception against Mariota on Tennessee's first drive and he missed, just like he did against Arizona. The result was the same- the receiver ended up with a big play. He also tried to bump Andre Johnson and got burned, leaving Johnson totally alone for a big reception. Smith was one of Oakland's prize free-agent signings and he needs to lock things down or actually make those interceptions he's gambling on.
3) Raiders first-team rush offense
The Raiders have, on paper, assembled an elite offensive line with studs at every position. Derek Carr has for the most part been unhampered by opposing pass rushers so far. Where this "elite" nature has yet to come to fruition is the running game. You look at the box score and say "But Raiderdamus, Oakland rushed for almost 150 yards, what gives?" and I say that it wasn't the first team doing that, it wasn't the main guys who are going to be out there all the time. But hey, maybe the problem really is...
4) Latavius Murray
He had two carries for ZERO yards. He showed no vision, no toughness and no drive. The offensive line wasn't getting a ton of push against Jurell Casey & co., but that didn't stop Murray's backups DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard who combined for 90 yards rushing on just fifteen carries between them. Where Murray was actually good was catching the ball, as he gained 19 yards on two catches. However, that isn't what he's paid to do and Washington is better at it anyway. Murray needs to step up if he wants to have a job next season with the Raiders.