Yes, we’re finally halfway through the first Sunday of football season, and for the Oakland Raiders, it was a good one. They traveled down to Tennessee to face Marcus Mariota and the Titans, another young AFC team that seems to be trending upwards. Fortunately for the Raider Nation, Derek Carr and company were able to come away with the win. How did it happen, and what can we take away from this game? Find out below in the Oakland Raiders week one takeaways.
Oakland Raiders Week One Takeaways
The Defense Was What It Was
Look, everyone is going to complain about the performance of the defense, but they shouldn’t. All things considered, they weren’t all that bad. The secondary wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible either, and honestly, what did you expect? Gareon Conley and Obi Melifonwu were the flashy defensive additions and they haven’t seen the field yet. However, there are a few interesting notes.
Firstly, for the negatives. It seemed like David Amerson was the guy Marcus Mariota wanted to go after on third down. On their only touchdown drive in the first half, two of the three third down conversions were wiped out by Amerson giving up completions. Another problem the defense had was that they struggled with gimmicky runs and pitches to the outside. For the most part, the Raiders were doing a good job of stifling the run when Tennessee went inside, but they were able to find success when they went outside, including the option touchdown run with Mariota. Not every team has the personnel to run this kind of offense, but the Kansas City Chiefs employed many of these tricks against the New England Patriots on Thursday night. That could be troublesome.
But it wasn’t all bad. The Raiders have historically struggled with tight ends, but that wasn’t the case this afternoon. They gave up seven catches for 76 yards, but that’s a shadow of what they gave up to the likes of Travis Kelce last year. Khalil Mack may not have sacked Marcus Mariota, but that doesn’t mean his presence wasn’t felt. He made several tackles in the backfield, truly disrupting the run, and he nearly had a pick late in the third quarter. Speaking of the pass rush, they didn’t set a record for sacks, but Eddie Vanderdoes and Mario Edwards Jr. definitely provided an inside rush that the Raiders certainly missed last year.
The New Boot
Oakland’s preseason placekicker, Giorgio Tavecchio had to step in because of Sebastian Janikowski’s injury, becoming the first Raider to attempt a field goal in over a decade and a half, and he did just fine. He kicked a 20 yarder early in the contest, and then nailed a 52 yarder towards the end of the first half, and another late in the third quarter. The pressure was turned up at the end of the game, when Tavecchio was called on once again for a kick, and he pulled through, giving the Raiders the ten point lead that sealed Tennessee’s fate. It’ll be interesting to see what happens to Janikowski if Tavecchio continues to play well.
Offensively, we saw exactly what we wanted to see. Not only did they pick right up where they left off when Derek Carr got hurt, but in many ways they were better. Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree were more physical than in years past, and Jared Cook played extremely well. Marshawn Lynch doesn’t seem to have lost a step, running with the same power and burst as in year’s past.
They did seem to lose some momentum as the game went on, and they missed a few key opportunities. Some play calls, like an end-around to Cordarrelle Patterson and a draw from the shotgun on second and ten, seemed to disrupt the offense’s flow. Also, there was an instance where the Raiders were on the one yard line, and Carr threw it at Cooper three straight plays instead of giving Lynch the goal line carry. If the Raiders could’ve gotten it together, they could’ve blown the Titans out at points.
It’s Still Early
It’s only week one, and as we saw around the league, just about anything can happen. The boys looked good out there today, and if they continue to improve like this, there’s no reason that they couldn’t meet the incredibly high expectations that the Raider Nation has this season. Next week, they head home to host the New York Jets. That should be a fun game for the Raider Nation.