The team is 2-2 and even before the news of Derek Carr’s injury, it felt like the team was doing much worse than that. The Beast Dance on the sidelines seems so long ago and the collective morale of the Raider Nation is as low as it has been since ... 2014 ?
The expectations of this season were sky high and even more than that most of us had already assumed the offense would be functioning at or among the best in the NFL for the entire year. Not only did the team return most of its starters from last year, but they added some important key pieces and when everything was going well in weeks 1 and 2 the offense looked unstoppable and the only question about the team is would the defense hold up.
Week 4 and the story is flipping. An undermanned defense managed to fight and claw and keep the team in the game, while the offense underperformed and looked closer to the 2015 team than the 2016 one.
Here are a few quick thoughts about the game :
- Offensive line looks like a finesse team. Domata Peko and Derek Wolfe are good (respect!) BUT, Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson should be able to get the job done.
- Peko destroyed the double team a few times. Wow. Watch that tape, Vanderdoes and Hester and learn to do that.
- What is up with Gabe Jackson this year. He looks slimmer and leaner than before. Last year he looked BIG and was a pounder, but this year, more trim. I wonder if it’s taking away his ability to anchor. Or is he nursing some kind of injury like a lower leg one that doesn’t allow him to play with his normal power. Whatever, Gabe Jackson is just not right.
- Denver playing +1 in the box ALOT and the front side of the defense was funneling the runner towards the free man often. Great design and great execution.
- Aggressive box safety play a lot, but why weren’t there more opportunities downfield?
- Some play action could have opened up opportunities, though it looked like Denver had the play read before the snap. LBs seemed to know the play and were attacking runs like mad men.
- In fact past TWO weeks, it felt like opposing defense had the offensive plays completely read and diagnosed pre-snap. Team needs to self-scout and figure out if there’s a “tell” that’s giving away these plays. Of course, former OC Bill Musgrave is on Denver’s staff and probably had something to do with it.
- Derek got a little bit nervous on dropbacks and looked like he didn’t quite trust his OLine sometimes. Some color would flash in front of him and even though it was blocked, Derek would flush.
- I think Marshawn Lynch is fine. If the blocking is there, he’ll show, but right now, there’s so much penetration and free runners that he can barely do much. On one play, there was a free runner, he made a cut and got downfield for 4 yards. Then a holding penalty negated it.
- Clive Walford run blocking is just atrocious and now that he’s lower on the depth chart, I wonder if he’s just giving up or coasting. 13 Personnel run plays should favor the offense but Walford and Jared Cook’s run blocking are below average.
- The failed 4th-and-1 was all about Walford standing straight up during his attempt of a block. To be fair, he was assigned to Derek Wolfe who was beating up Gabe Jackson so it was a tough block, but that’s what he needs to do to be a starter.
- Mario’s sack was beautiful. His first was on a TE stunt that the rookie LT didn’t pick up.
- Could the team please defend a screen pass? Remember the 3rd-and-18 for a TD last year? Nick Morrow so slow at recognizing the screen release; he was busy eye-ing the QB.
- 2 batted passes up in the air by blitzing safeties, a near strip sack, a muffed punt results in zero takeaways.
- Mack was on fire, especially in 2nd half. After he killed Menelik Watson, he re-introduced himself to Donald Stephenson. Mack Monster Man. He’s making plays and on the verge of changing games each time out there.
- Pass rush lane discipline was again problem and again I noticed Treyvon Hester losing his contain. Could have had a couple more sacks, with good discipline.
- Treyvon Hester has struggled.
- Again, when the Denver offense was in 3 WR (11 Personnel), the Raiders had 2 DT like Treyvon Hester + Mario Edwards and they were very susceptible to being run on. They need to get this fixed because KC is a definite 11 Personnel run team.
- Some really key sacks and a few of them owed to the coverage. Nice if you can rush 3 and Khalil Mack can still get thru.
- Didn’t really like the 4th-and-1 call, but I understand why Coach did it and I won’t hindsight it.
- Both scoring drives were 90+ yard drives.
- First drive had key plays made by Lee Smith, Jalen Richard, and Johnny Holton.
- Second drive had plays by Jared Cook, Seth Roberts, and Cordarrelle Patterson.
- EJ Manuel made some beautiful throws and some good reads. It FELT like the Broncos were playing softer zone, but I’m not sure if that’s just because of the results. I’d have to check the A-22 tape to be sure.
- His two throws to Jared Cook in the End Zone were beautiful. The first was a tough outside throw but it was perfectly placed away from the helping safety. The other one was a dart on the skinny post.
- Jared Cook felt the safety and eased off the potential TD catch. I understand the fear, I just don’t like it and this team needs players that will go all out for the win. Crabtree or Seth would have taken that hit for the team.
- I very much didn’t like the fake punt call, though. That one felt too much like a desperation call. Though, to be fair, it was near desperation time.
- I have no words about Amari Cooper’s drops. Ok, a few words : I think he’s starting to press now and it’s getting into his head. He’s better than this, but like many mental things (eg., Rick Ankiel, Blair Walsh, Chuck Knoblauch) it can be hard to shake. One good game and he could break through it.
- That last throw by EJ Manuel that was interecepted looked like a Jump Ball to the team’s “best player” Amari Cooper, but he just got outjumped for it by safety Justin Simmons. Against TJ Ward, Amari would win this jump.
- But... Simmons : 6’2”, 32 5/8” arms, 40” vertical. Amari : 6’1”, 31 1/2” arms, 33” vertical. That’s a 9”+ differential. Simmons may not be well known now, but I bet he’s going to become a household name pretty soon.
- We find out a whole lot about people by watching how they deal with adversity. The coaching staff, the players, the team overall, and the fans. This next 2-6 games will be tough, but the next three are at home and the team may rally around EJ Manuel.
- Stay faithful, Raider Nation. We haven’t seen the best of this team yet and there’s a lot of football left this season.