Today’s game was disappointing, but it wasn’t the total disaster that the Washington game was. Even after going down 14-0, the Raiders fought hard. The defense looked really bad in the first half, but they came alive in the second half. With a healthy Derek Carr, maybe we win this game. Maybe we don’t, But after the Ravens’ embarrassing performances in the last two weeks, they were out for blood and Oakland did not match their intensity. Let’s get to the Good and Bad.
1) EJ Manuel
Yes, maybe a healthy Carr wins this game, maybe he doesn’t. But Manuel was perfectly fine making his first start as an Oakland Raider. He didn’t make any mistakes, though his stat line wasn’t impressive. He completed a beautiful touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree that gave Oakland some hope. A lot went wrong for the Raiders in this game, but Manuel wasn’t part of that.
2) Michael Crabtree
Speaking of Crabtree, he came to play today (unlike some receivers whom I will address later). Crabs caught six passes for 82 yards and a score, and was a difficult cover for the Ravens DBs. He gave max effort on every play.
3) Alex Collins
Ravens RB Collins is a guy I liked a lot coming out of Arkansas. He’s a tough runner with deceptive speed who is hard to bring down. He pushes the pile and gets the tough extra yards. He showed all of those traits against Oakland today, running for 55 yards on 12 carries. Baltimore’s backfield is crowded, but Collins is worthy of a starting role. He is fun to watch.
4) Deshaun Watson
I don’t know how much of the Chefs-Texans game you all watched, but if you turned it off early, you missed some fireworks. Do you remember back when Michael Vick was an Atlanta Falcon, and if you played with the Falcons on Madden you could make Vick run around in circles and then fire a pass 70 yards on the money running backwards? That’s basically what Watson was like tonight. He had 261 passing yards and five touchdowns in a losing effort, but he was the only reason the Texans had half a chance in that game. He’s the leader in the clubhouse for Rookie of the Year. And the Browns passed on him. SAD!
1) Amari Cooper
Is he even on this team anymore? Where did he go? Does anyone know? Cooper caught one pass for eight yards and if I recall correctly that was his only target. If you don’t get open, you don’t get targets. Cooper was great at getting open in college at Alabama, but he seems to have forgotten that skill.
2) Jared Cook
Cook put the Raiders in an even bigger hole after his first catch, which he fumbled and Jimmy Smith returned for a touchdown. Cook dropped a number of other catchable balls in the game and made Manuel’s stat line look far worse than it ought to have been. If the wideouts aren’t catching the ball, Cook is a good outlet, but he hasn’t been as dependable as he should be.
3) The offensive line
I know Gabe Jackson was out today, but they were really bad as a unit and have been since the trip to Washington. Donald Penn was atrocious and the line gave up three sacks. They also didn’t get much push in the run game. Manuel is lucky he didn’t get hurt like Carr did. These guys are paid like stars, but are playing like busts.
4) The Pittsburgh Steelers
As painful as it is to be a Raider fan today, imagine being a Steelers fan or, God forbid, a New York Giants fan. The Giants lost WR Odell Beckham Jr. to a broken ankle and thus, their season is over. But the Steelers are different. They are watching their team slowly erode and underperform and they don’t know what to do about it. They got manhandled by the Jaguars- the Jaguars!- today, 30-9. Big Ben threw FIVE interceptions and Leonard Fournette made them his prison bunkmate. That clanging sound you hear is the Steelers’ window slamming shut. If you need some inspiration on this day of all days, take some solace in the fact that Steelers fans are sad. Schadenfreude is the best medicine.