The 2011 Oakland Raiders are still a work in progress. That’s the bad news. The good news is that as we saw last night they are clearly making progress. Hue Jackson’s debut was one to remember as he reversed the curse of both season openers and Monday Night games.
It had been 9 years (not a typo) since the Raiders won a season opener, ditto for the last time they won on Monday Night. Well, those ominous streaks are now a thing of the past.
Maybe the Gatorade bath was bit much but at least it shows how much the players both respect and admire their head coach. So far Al’s controversial decision is looking like the right move.
More proof of how little the preseason means, Hue’s bully was picked on in the preseason yet was abusive of the Broncos in the regular season opener.
The O-line pushed the Donkeys around while the D-line dominated. Kyle Orton surpassed the 300-yard mark but did so while running for his life. Darren McFadden ran for 150 bruising yards behind the physical play of the line as he continued his ownership of Denver. Going back to last season that makes three straight 100-yard efforts by Run DMC against the Mile High rivals.
While the final score might appear as if this one was close there really wasn’t much drama at all.
To be sure Sebastian Janikowski’s record tying 63-yard field goal proved vital as the final score will reflect. Still, it wasn’t until late in the 4th quarter that Denver’s offense actually produced a score. Before that the only other TD came on a 90-yard punt return by Eric Decker. That would be one of the areas the Raiders must improve in which makes this team very much a work in progress.
Another area in which little to no improvement was made came in the form of yellow laundry on the field.
15 penalties for 131 yards just isn’t going to cut it against better competition (yeah, that was intended to be a shot at the Broncos). Stephon Heyer’s miscues summed up the lack of focus that still plagues this franchise. Hue’s got plenty of work to do in that department.
From the glass half full department we’ve got Darrius Heyward-Bey looking better with each outing. Stanford Routt is more than up for the task of replacing old what’s-his-name. The run defense smothered the Donks allowing just 38-yards on 13 carries.
Before we get too carried away it is mandatory to note that these results came against the Broncos, perhaps the worst team in the AFC West (we’re keeping an eye on the Chiefs). Anytime a crowd is chanting for Tim Tebow in week one you know you’ve got yourself a top-10 pick in the future. So there is still plenty of room to improve for Coach Jackson.
Jason Campbell was efficient but not nearly as effective as necessary to win against better competition. He didn’t make any glaring mistake but he also didn’t make any game-changing plays.
Overall it was great night and the perfect way to begin the 2011 campaign. A team that once looked impossible of winning against AFC West foes is suddenly incapable of losing against divisional rivals. Coach Jackson’s bully is finally becoming the lunch-money-stealing, birthday-ruining, sending-fools-home-crying-to-their-mommas kid on the block that he envisioned. Can’t wait to see what’s next!
Topics: Al Davis, Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, Denver Broncos, Eric Decker, Hue Jackson, Jason Campbell, Kyle Orton, Oakland Raiders, Sebastian Janikowski, Stanford Routt, Stephon Heyer, Tim Tebow