Sitting in the stands at O.co Coliseum among the Oakland Raiders faithful, I heard mixed emotions about the game that was unfolding before our eyes. Some were excited, others were optimistic, and yet there were the few that didn’t like what they saw from the Raiders. Still, the Raiders were able to score a touchdown early in the game (on their first drive), and they never lost the lead. The Raiders earned a record of 1-1 with a 19-9 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars. What did Raider Nation learn about their team from this game?
The new defense came to play this year, and it is a run stopper. The Jacksonville Jaguars were held to 34 yards rushing as a team. RB-Maurice Jones-Drew had the most yards rushed with 27, but he had to leave the game after S-Charles Woodson made an acrobatic tackle on him. QB-Chad Henne passed for 241 yards and one touchdown, but it was the only positive for a struggling football team. This Raiders defense that supposedly would be unable to rush the quarterback sacked Henne 4.5 times in the game on Sunday. That now makes 9 sacks over two games. A huge difference from 2012. Unfortunately, those QB pressure situations aren’t translating into turnovers, but the season is early, and this is a defense that is still trying to mesh together. One player to keep your eye on is DE-Jason Hunter. He is making a statement as an edge rusher, and he has had a sack in both games played so far.
The interior middle line is being plugged up pretty well by NT-Pat Sims, DT-Vance Walker, DT-Christo Bilukidi, and even DT-Brian Sanford played well against the Jaguars. In the last two games, the defense has only allowed 161 rushing yards while the Raiders have gained 397 yards rushing. So far, the Raiders have not allowed the big runs from Indianapolis Colts RB-Vick Ballard and Jacksonville Jaguars RB-Maurice Jones-Drew. Their next test will come against a tough Denver Broncos offense. Passing yards have been hurting the Raiders, and they will need to try to hold off QB-Peyton Manning from getting into a rhythm.
I also want to give a shout out to a good friend of mine who questioned my support of S-Usama Young, how do you like him now Mark? When S-Tyvon Branch went down with an ankle injury, Young and DB-Tracy Porter stepped up their play. Young had 3 tackles and 1.5 sacks and Porter had 5 tackles and half of a sack. With Branch out on a significant injury, the Raiders will need these two to continue to play hard and pick up the slack.