Aerial Attack: B-
The Texans defense was without three starters in the secondary and started Gareon Conley, who was with the team for less than a week. Combine that with the fact that JJ Watt was injured in the first half and did not return. All things considered, the passing game was a little disappointing, in my opinion, especially in the second half.
This isn’t necessarily the week to get on Derek Carr’s case; he did throw for 285 yards and three touchdowns. The numbers were padded by two plays that went for 111 yards, a 65-yard TD to Hunter Renfrow, and a 46-yarder to Tyrell Williams.
Tyrell Williams had two drops that were killer. The big one came on the Raiders’ final drive on 3rd and 16. Carr saw one on one coverage against former teammate Gareon Conley and gave Williams a chance to make a play. The degree of difficulty was high on the play, Conley was draped all over Williams, but I am in the belief when a ball hits a receiver hands the catch should be made.
Williams himself said after the game that they are catches he should make.
The Derek Carr to Darren Waller connection was not there; Waller caught only of two of his eight targets for 11 yards.
Hunter Renfrow was penalized for pass interference negating a 30 yard pick up by Darren Waller. The penalty came in the second quarter with seven minutes left before the half; the Raiders were playing from behind the sticks the entire drive and eventually had to punt. I believe this was a crucial point in the game. Had the Raiders been able to get points on the drive, there is a very good chance the Raiders take the momentum and a two-score lead into the second half.
Ground Game: C+
It wasn’t the worst day for the running attack, but it also wasn’t their best. Combined, the Raiders backs totaled 93 yards on 23 carries.
Josh Jacobs was kept in check with 66 yards on 15 touches. Part of the issue for the ground game was it didn’t get enough at-bats. For perspective, Jacobs has carried the ball 20 plus times himself this year on three occasions.
Offensive Line: -A
Finally, the offensive line was at full strength, although that didn’t last long. Rodney Hudson injured his ankle and did not return early in the game after just a few plays. Young Andre James stepped in and played well for Hudson.
The line did not allow a sack, and for the most part, Carr had time to make throws. The issue with the line was a huge holding penalty on Richie Incognito on the Raiders’ final drive when trailing by three.
Jacobs picked up 12 yards on the play, which would have placed the ball on the Texans 33-yard line. Instead, the Raiders lost 10 yards and were facing a 2nd and 20. The penalty was too much to overcome, and the would punt a couple plays later.
Defensive Line: B-
Although the Raiders defense gave up 130 yards to the Texans on the ground, it wasn’t all bad. They were able to generate pressure and sack Deshaun Watson three times with four hits on the QB. Big Johnathan Hankins, Benson Mayowa, and Arden Key all were able to get home.
Another stat where the Raiders did well was a tackle for loss, totaling seven on the day.
Much like with the air attack, it was the play that the D-line didn’t make that will be talked about. Arden Key had what appeared to be a sack until Watson was able to maintain balance and wiggle out of his grasp only to escape another near sack from Maxx Crosby to deliver the go-ahead touchdown to Darren Fells. It was an incredible play by Watson.
As is the case most weeks, there was nothing to write home about with the linebackers. Tahir Whitehead and Nicholas Morrow are not game-changers; they rarely make plays. Yes, they are solid, hard-working guys, but when they are your top two linebackers, you will have issues.
I did see a stat today that of the 11 receptions by DeAndre Hopkins, eight of them came while being covered by a linebacker. Hard to criticize them too badly, most speedy corners can’t keep up with Hopkins, let alone a linebacker.
All three of Watson’s touchdown passes went to a running back or tight end. This is the second week in a row that three touchdowns were scored by either a running back or tight end against the Raiders. Generally, that is a sign of poor coverage by linebackers or safeties.
Trayvon Mullin made his first start of the year and was solid, just missing an interception. He did record one pass break up.
You could criticize Lamarcus Joyner for what appeared to be some mental errors. On the first Watson touchdown pass, in particular, Joyner gave up his responsibility in coverage to come up and try to make a play on Watson.
If you go back and watch the play, you will see as Watson leaves the pocket he is being chased by Tahir Whitehead, Joyner should have stayed in coverage on Fells. Instead, he came off and left Fells open for the score. Easier said than done, I know.
Special Teams: C+
Return teams were not a factor in the ball game. Daniel Carlson made all four of his kicks (one FG/three XPA).
AJ Cole had a 48.7 yards per punt average.