It’s always great to start off with a win! The Raiders also began the 2016 campaign with a victory, but that game in New Orleans gave us all heart problems. This game was a little less nerve-wracking. So what aspects of the game shone brightly, and which were less than stellar?
- Giorgio Tavecchio
The Italian Stallion, in his first regular-season game as an Oakland Raider, was the true hero of the game. He went 4/4 on field goals including two 50+ yarders in a game the Raiders won by ten points. Sebastian Janikowski’s injury was very concerning to Raider fans, but if Tavecchio continues to kick like this, those concerns will dissipate quickly. Game ball to the kicker!
2. Titans offensive line
Last season the Titans were statistically the best offensive line in football- better than either the Raiders or Cowboys. Today they showed why, holding (literally) Oakland to one sack and giving Marcus Mariota plenty of time to work. One area they didn’t have their usual success was in run blocking, but the Titans still totaled 95 yards on the ground and their sole touchdown was on a Mariota run.
3. The Raiders defense
We saw a lot of the same issues with Oakland’s defense in this game as we have in other recent games. The tendency to give up the big play and to totally forget about the opposing tight end were still in full effect. Delanie Walker had a big day with 76 yards on seven catches (nine targets).
But we all looked up at halftime and the Raiders had given up a grand total of ten points, and held the Titans to a mere two field goals in the second half. Eddie Vanderdoes held up on the line, and while he was only credited for one solo tackle, he was a big part of the Raiders’ not allowing the Titans to run wild. Karl Joseph looked like a superstar and Sean Smith did not shit himself on the field, which is a decided improvement from the Saints game.
This unit is a work in progress, but Ken Norton Jr. dialed up the plays that needed to be dialed up and got the most out of his players today. Good job, Coach.
4. Oakland’s death-machine offense
The Raiders put a lot of money into their offense this offseason, signing Marshall Newhouse, Cordarrelle Patterson, Jared Cook and Marshawn Lynch to lucrative deals. Lynch, the old warhorse that he is, did not disappoint in his Raider debut, rushing 18 times for 76 yards. He ran with fury and violence, running over fools just as he said he would, including but not limited to the monstrous Jurrell Casey. Lynch certainly should have got a few carries near the goal line, but he will get his more than he gets got.
Derek Carr picked up right where he left off, throwing with precision and confidence. He targeted Amari Cooper a whopping 13 times, but Michael Crabtree led the team in receiving with 83 yards. Cooper displayed a new level of strength and speed and was embarrassing defensive backs all day, finishing with 62 yards and a score. He had his issues, but we’ll get to that.
Derek Carr himself was 22/32 for 262 yards and two scores, one to Cooper and the other a frozen rope to Dread Pirate Seth Roberts. Oakland’s streak of winning games when Roberts scores continues unabated.
- The Dropsies
I’m not sure what was in the water at Nissan Stadium today, but it prevented anyone from getting a good handle on the football. Amari Cooper personally dropped three consecutive passes that would have been touchdowns. Michael Crabtree dropped one and bobbled another. Jalen Richard fumbled a punt out of bounds. Even the Titans players had their issues with ball security on kickoffs.
The dropsies extended to the defenses as well, as evidenced by the fact that this game featured zero turnovers.
2. Oakland’s right side
Most of the Raider offensive line is great. Most of it paved the way for huge Lynch runs and kept Derek Carr upright. But the right side really didn’t come through. Both of the sacks on Carr came on pressure from the right side, and when Lynch ran right at the end of the game to put the game on ice, defenders poured in from the right side to stop him. This will likely be a concern for the remainder of the year, and we can only hope David Sharpe heals from whatever ails him.
3. Bruce Irvin
Not only did Irvin turn into the Invisible Man in the pass rush today, he also committed two silly penalties on Tennessee’s final drive that enabled them to attempt a field goal. They would not make the kick, but in a closer game penalties like that combined with such a forgettable performance could have really cost the team.
4. The New England Patriots
Everything else about the game was fine. Both teams played hard and the better team won. Playcalling was great on both sides and it was an exciting, clean game. Both teams have bright futures.
So I want to take this time to laugh at the New England Patriots, who suck and are bad, and proved this by circlejerking for half an hour before their season opener against Kansas City with the most vomit-inducing Super Bowl banner celebration you will ever see in your life. They proceeded to get systematically dismantled by the Chefs, 42-27. Their defense looked mediocre at best and Tom Brady looked like a doddering old man. It may be too soon to bury a proud franchise like New England, but today Oakland is 1-0 and they are 0-1 so they can suck it.