The Raiders snagged a pivotal, 31-24 win on Sunday against an underrated Detroit Lions squad. They’re now in a position to make a playoff run after watching the Colts, Jaguars and Titans all drop in the standings. Who shined, who struggled and what can we expect next? Let’s take a look at this week’s Sensations, Frustrations and Declarations:
Jacobs is the train that makes this offense go. The offensive line operates as the tracks, the foundation that allows the train to keep moving, while Jon Gruden is the conductor, screaming, “Full speed ahead! More carries for Jacobs!”
After his 28 carry, 120-yard, 2-touchdown performance, there’s no question that this offense runs through Jacobs. He has a combination of power and a slippery, shiftiness that just isn’t seen regularly. Oakland needed to keep the ball out of Matthew Stafford’s hands as much as possible to grab a win, and controlling the game on the ground did that to an extent.
Derek Carr quieting the haters (for now)
The haters are quiet right now, still busy replaying their TiVo’d version of the game as they traverse every play in an effort to find something, anything, to nitpick about Carr’s game.
Stop it haters. At least for now. As Carr has found chemistry with rookies Hunter Renfrow and Foster Moreau, this offense has grown more and more dynamic. With all day to throw against Detroit, he looked downfield more often, finding success on intermediate and deep throws. From his delicious deep dime to Jalen Richard, to his improvisational dagger touchdown to Renfrow, the 28-year old led the Raiders with poise and moxie all game.
The “Jalen Richard drive”
Jacobs has understandably soaked up most of the attention this year, leaving Richard underappreciated, and maybe even underutilized, in this offense. Raider fans surely appreciated him on Sunday, as he led the team from their own 25 to the Lions’ 9-yard line after being fed on four consecutive plays.
With the score knotted at 24 apiece, Carr unleashed a deep touch pass that Richard reeled in with soft hands. After two consecutive carries up the middle nabbed the Raiders another first-down, Carr connected with Richard again on a 23-yard catch-and-run that set the team up at first-and-goal. Jacobs is the better all-around back, but the Raiders should elevate Richard’s role in the passing game and considering using him in the same manner that Bill Belichick uses James White.
Daryl Worley and Karl Joseph’s endzone heroics
While the secondary was carved up like a zamboni-less ice rink for most of the night, the Raiders would not have won this game without endzone heroics from Worley and Joseph.
Worley’s one-handed interception was one of the most athletic plays you’ll see out of a defensive back, and Joseph’s game-sealing pass breakup is the type of play young safeties dream of making. Making those plays after getting torched for most of the game speaks highly of this unit’s resiliency, and will give them a major confidence boost going forward.
Darren Waller’s lack of targets
For the second week in a row, Waller had only two catches. This time, however, he was only targeted twice all game.
The offense was still humming and doing it’s thing, but leaving arguably the most dynamic passing threat out of the gameplan was a mistake. The Lions attempted to take him away by matching him up with Justin Coleman, one of the game’s most underrated slot-corners. But Waller found himself matched up with smaller, inexperienced safeties or poor coverage linebackers (cough cough...Jarrad Davis) on multiple occasions.
A win is a win is a win. I get that. But watching Waller be largely left out of the gameplan was fully frustrating.
Oakland’s pass defense, of course
Kenny Golladay and Marvin Jones entered this game averaging 9 catches, 131 yards and 1.3 touchdown combined per game. They dwarfed those numbers in this one, tallying 12 grabs, 258 yards and a pair of scores.
The physical nature that both Golladay and Jones play with was too much for Trayvon Mullen, Worley and former Lion Nevin Lawson. They routinely snatched contested catches and bodied-up against Oakland’s smaller defensive backs.
Pass coverage has been a particular problem all year for the Raiders, from the secondary to the linebackers. Pass-catching backs have been able to feast on Oakland’s stiff-legged linebackers, which is why I started J.D. McKissic this week in fantasy.
Next up for the pass defense: Austin Ekeler and Keenan Allen. Yikes.
Trent Brown’s knee injury
We can’t be frustrated with Brown for getting injured. That’s just part of the game.
However, it’s okay to get frustrated about the fact that the Raiders offensive line hasn’t had any cohesion this year due to injury. Kolton Miller has been the lone constant on a team of shuffling hog-molies. And still, the Raiders have pushed people around up front.
They’ve only given up nine sacks through the first half of the season, while being able to plow over most opposing defensive lines. Imagine if all five starters could be together, healthy, and firing on all cylinders? That was a reality for exactly 10 plays against the Texans.
Rodney Hudson was out tonight, but the fact that his status was in question until Sunday morning is a good sign that he will be back in action soon. Let’s hope that Brown’s malady is not serious. The big fella’ has graded out as the best RT in the game by ESPN’s Pass Block Win-Rate metric, and his presence is a steadying force.
- The Raiders will make the playoffs if they beat the Chargers next week
- The defense will improve as young players continue to grow and learn the system
- Hunter Renfrow will break out in the second half of the season