Oakland Raiders: What Was Learned from Last Night’s Win

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Nov 20, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders linebacker Khalil Mack (52) and cornerback Tarell Brown (23) tackle Kansas City Chiefs running back DeAnthony Thomas (13) at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

5. This Franchise has a Bright Future

Last night’s victory highlighted in many ways the future of the Raider franchise. Young players like Sio Moore, Khalil Mack and DJ Hayden will be cornerstones of the defense for years to come, and Benson Mayowa has emerged as a very capable young pass rusher as well. Latavius Murray, if he can remain healthy, can be a dangerous home-run hitter as a running back, and the veteran Reece looks to still have some gas in the tank as well. Young wideouts Andre Holmes, Brice Butler and even Vincent Brown are all developing nicely and will be great compliments to the still-young Rod Streater when he is back healthy again. Mychal Rivera has emerged as both a solid receiving tight end as well as one hell of a blocking fullback, and Menelik Watson and Gabe Jackson are emerging as capable starting offensive linemen. Derek Carr is quite clearly the best quarterback of the past two draft classes and has a very good chance to finish this year with over 3,000 yards and 20 touchdown passes as a rookie.

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  • These young players are taking their lumps early, but are also getting an opportunity to play alongside and learn from some of the greats. Young DB’s like DJ Hayden, TJ Carrie, Chimdi Chekwa and Brandian Ross get to learn from future Hall of Famer Charles Woodson. Young pass-rushers Mayowa and Mack get to learn the ropes from the great Justin Tuck.  Derek Carr and Matt Schaub sit together and talk after nearly every offensive series. The group of young receivers are working every day with James Jones. Young Latavius Murray is learning from three running backs in DMC, MJD and Reece that have a combined 19,308 yards from scrimmage.

    The mixture of old and young that is helping nurture these young players was illustrated twice late in last nights game: the young Carr hit the veteran Jones for the game-winning TD strike, and Jones made sure that his rookie QB kept the football; a few plays later, Justin Tuck called a timeout just in time to bail out his young teammates Khalil Mack and Sio Moore from a boneheaded mistake, then chastised them like an older brother would.

    Many of the veteran players on this team will likely not be on the roster next season, and very few, if any, will be around in 2016, but the young players will be, and the lessons they are learning during a very difficult season will help them develop their games down the road. This group has managed to put together its first win, but the young players on this team will see many, many more. If Reggie McKenzie can continue adding quality young talent in the draft as well as in free agency, the Raiders will build a core group that can stay together for several years and play well. With a lot of pieces already in place, this team could be just a year or two away from celebrating playoff victories with the fervor they celebrated their first win of the regular season with last night.