The Raiders got a huge win in Arizona when it looked like their injuries and general inefficiencies would lead them down the path of defeat once again. One can argue that maybe they shouldn’t have won this game and crashed their draft position, but one could also argue a win like this is good for team morale. There were a lot of young players who played their hearts out today, and they deserved this win.
So who climbed the ladder of glory, and who descended the chute of despair?
1) Marcell Ateman
At the end of the game, the Raiders were down to three healthy receivers. They lost Brandon LaFell to what seems to be a serious Achilles injury, forcing them to bring in former practice squad guys Marcell Ateman and Saeed Blacknall. Despite not playing more than a few series, Ateman ended up as the team’s leading receiver with four catches for 50 yards.
Ateman is a guy I have been high on since he was selected in the seventh round out of Oklahoma State. He is a big guy with good hands and is pretty dependable. I’m happy he got the chance to show what he can do. It’s up to him to stay sharp in practice and become a bigger part of the game plan going forward. The Raiders are going to need him badly.
2) Maurice Hurst
While the front seven did little to stop the Cardinals running game this week, Maurice Hurst and the rest of the defensive line went hard against the pass. Hurst had the only sack of the game, but the linemen chased Josh Rosen all over the place, forcing him to be highly erratic and generally inefficient. Hurst is currently the best player the Raiders have on the defensive line and he can be a centerpiece the team can build their pass rush around.
3) Larry Fitzgerald
The Cards didn’t have a lot of success in the passing game, but when they got into the red zone they looked for the old man. Fitzgerald had two catches for 23 yards, but both of them went for touchdowns. He and David Johnson were the only things working for Arizona today.
4) Derek Carr
Carr didn’t have one of his more statistically impressive games today. He didn’t have a game that even really passed the eye test where you would say, this is The Guy. But when you look at what Carr had to work with, a patchwork offensive line and a bunch of rookie practice squad receivers, the fact that Carr did as well as he did and actually won the game is a minor miracle.
Carr got into it with Jon Gruden on the sidelines, and you know what, I want to see more of that. Iron sharpens iron. When’s the last time we saw Derek Carr get that fired up with his coaches during the game? Did he ever do that with Bill Musgrave, Todd Downing or Jack Del Rio? Not really, certainly not like this. Today we saw some fire, we saw a guy who wants to compete and win with every fiber of his being, a guy who will not lay down and accept losing. We saw a guy who fought with Gruden the way Rich Gannon used to. Jon Gruden is not a guy who shies away from confrontation, and one has to believe he respects a man willing to have that confrontation with him.
1) Josh Rosen
This game for the Cards’ franchise QB was... not good. He was 9/20 for 136 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. He probably should have had three, but Karl Joseph dropped what could have been his second pick of the day. A lot of this had to do with the Raiders’ defense, which played inspired football at times, but Rosen is a rookie with a long way to go. He should have been allowed to sit for a year and learn before taking the reins, but Sam Bradford did what Sam Bradford does.
2) Raiders offensive line
The good news is, the line did work in the running game, allowing Oakland to rush for a total of 152 yards. They were moving the pile in the first quarter, allowing Doug Martin to pick up chunks of yardage. The bad news is, both tackles suffered injuries at various points in the game and the line committed several silly penalties which hamstrung Oakland’s red zone offense. They also allowed four sacks. They played well enough when it counted, but they were a big part of the game situation being as desperate as it was to begin with.
3) Raiders rush defense
The Cardinals rushed for 154 yards on 31 carries for a 5 YPC average. David Johnson alone rushed for 137 yards. I mean, he does that a lot to lots of teams, but the effort today to stop him was somewhat lacking by the Raiders. They don’t really have a big run-stuffing DT at the moment, as most of their current defensive tackles are pass rush specialists at the position. The linebackers can’t shed blocks well enough and their general defensive scheme is lacking players who can execute it properly.
4) The Washington Indigenous Persons
If you paid attention to the early games today, you may have heard that Washington QB Alex Smith suffered a severe ankle injury. It was a bit more than that. Smith went full Joe Theismann, rolling over his own ankle and snapping his leg in half. It was pretty gruesome, so don’t look it up if you’re squeamish. Smith broke his fibula and tibia and will be having surgery immediately if he hasn’t already.
Colt McCoy came in for the Persons and ignited the offense even in a losing effort, which is reporter-speak for “The Texans didn’t study tape on him”. Washington will bring in a who’s-who of never-wases and has-beens to compete for the backup job behind McCoy.
Dan Snyder deserves this. He jerked around Kirk Cousins for years, never wanting to commit to him fully, and then he replaced him with Alex Smith, who will soon find himself in the Monday Night Football booth with Dan Dierdorf and the ghost of Frank Gifford. I feel bad for Smith, who was always a trooper in San Francisco, but Snyder can eat shit.