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Raiders-Falcons: 4 winners, 4 losers

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While Oakland came out on the losing end of today's game, let's rate the individual performances and see who stood out.

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1-1 is such a boring record to have. Are the Raiders any good, or did they just get lucky last week and aren't any better than in years previous? Frankly, who knows. What I do know is that several members of the coaching staff and some players have a lot of explaining to do. Let's get to the winners.


1) Matt Ryan

Here's a guy who has lost the faith of a large contingent of the Falcons fanbase. He's been mediocre for a long time. However, he clearly paid attention to what Drew Brees did against the Raiders last week and today Ryan threw for nearly 400 yards. He spread the ball around well and went to the tight end a lot, which is the Raiders' Achilles heel. More on that later.

2) Oakland rush offense

While the Raiders didn't win today, we have to give kudos to the offensive line and the running backs, all of whom were very good. Kelechi Osemele showed yet again why we paid him a boatload of money and Jalen Richard continued his solid play, showing burst and shiftiness. Latavius Murray also stepped up with a limited workload, running hard for 57 yards on only eight carries and scoring a touchdown. The Raiders set out to improve the running game as a whole and it appears they've done so, racking up 155 rush yards on the day. They are clearly one of the best rushing teams in the NFL.

3) Derek Carr

While Carr couldn't pull off the comeback, he was extremely efficient and productive again today, going 34/45 for 299 yards and three touchdowns with, again, no interceptions. The Falcons were working all day to take away the deep pass and so Carr sliced and diced them underneath with slants and screens that were often completely uncovered. He played well enough to win today, and should have.

4) Falcons pass offense

Where is this supposed fierce Raiders pass rush? It's been invisible for the first few games. Matt Ryan didn't get the ball out as quickly as Drew Brees today, but it didn't matter. Atlanta's offensive line stonewalled the Raiders' rush all day and also opened massive holes for the running game. I suspect the issue is the absence of Mario Edwards Jr., which means we'll see similar results until he comes back. Oh boy.


1) Raiders defense

What are they doing, exactly? They spent all this money this offseason and aren't any better at all. Karl Joseph still hasn't played. Reggie Nelson has done nothing, and Sean Smith is getting toasted regularly. Do defensive players just come under a curse when they put on the black jersey? Was Charles Woodson so good last season that he made the defense look much better than it was? Or is this just a matter of a ton of new players in a scheme that will take time to gel together?

2) Ken Norton, Jr.

Ken, what would you say... you do here? You got outcoached today by Kyle Freaking Shanahan. Raider fans were very excited when Norton became the defensive coordinator, but so far the results haven't been good. The Raiders have consistently been the worst pass defense in football even with stars on the defensive line and secondary. Covering the tight end has been a problem for Oakland since the first game of Norton's tenure. The only time the team had a handle on that was when Neiron Ball was healthy, but he isn't healthy and can't be counted on. Norton has had a full year to figure this out and still hasn't done it. Perhaps I should point out that of all the coaches who served under Pete Carroll, none of them have had any success as of yet without Pete on the sidelines. Norton is no exception.

3) Khalil Mack

For the second week in a row, Khalil Mack was held without a sack. For a guy considered one of the best edge rushers in football, that is unacceptable especially considering that Atlanta's offensive line isn't that great. If Mack is going to get chipped by tight ends constantly, the Raiders are going to have to make opposing teams pay up the middle and on the other side. You don't see JJ Watt or Von Miller being held sackless even though offenses gameplan extensively for them. Still, Mack had four tackles today so he wasn't invisible, but he needs to get to the QB more quickly.

4) Raider fans

Yes, us. We're all losers for being subjected to this kind of performance two weeks in a row. This team has so much promise and then continues to make stupid mistakes and play down to their competition week in and week out. We buy into the hype every year only to be disappointed by the harsh reality that this team just isn't there yet. While the Raiders are very good on offense, they are not good enough to win 40-point shootouts every week, and they can't get off the field on third down when they need to.

I'll say this, though. Oakland's defense stepped up big time in the latter half of last season while the offense sputtered due to a rash of injuries. Mario Edwards Jr.'s presence is sorely missed. The personnel Oakland has is objectively quite good and can't possibly be this bad the entire season. I hope.