Oakland Raiders: Week 2 Grades

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Sep 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders cornerback Neiko Thorpe (31) celebrates with safety Keenan Lambert (32) after intercepting a pass in the final minute against the Baltimore Ravens as at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Ravens 37-33. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Matthew Lorscheider

Quarterback: B-

Carr had a somewhat inconsistent game in terms of throwing the ball accurately, with several instances of underthrows or letting balls sail a bit too much. This contributed to a late interception that almost sank the Raiders. But he rallied after the pick to lead the Raiders down the field on a textbook 2-minute drill and capped it by throwing the game winner to Seth Roberts. The game winner came immediately after a pick in the end zone that was negated by a holding call against the Ravens.

As the penalty yardage was being walked off, Carr ran to the sideline and told Bill Musgrave he wanted to run the same play again, just to the opposite side. It was that play that got the Raiders the winning touchdown. That is a veteran move, the type of thing the greats do, but most QB’s don’t. It also shows the kind of trust that Musgrave already has with his young quarterback. Carr had a great game by the numbers despite his struggles with accuracy, and Raider fans should feel renewed confidence that he’s our guy.

Running Backs: C+

In a shootout where two quarterbacks combine to throw the ball 90 times, you’re not going to have a lot of big time running performances, and this game was no different. Still, the Raiders managed to run the ball much more effectively this week with Latavius Murray, against a very tough Ravens run defense. Murray carried 15 times for 65 yards and a score and the Raiders managed to pick up 4 first downs on the ground. Murray also contributed 3 receptions for 22 yards and Marcel Reece and Taiwan Jones also contributed a catch of their own. It was a solid but not spectacular performance.

Wide Receivers: A+

Against a solid Baltimore secondary, the Raider wideouts played like an elite unit on Sunday to help secure the win. Rookie Amari Cooper kicked things off with a 68 yard TD on the opening drive and finished with 7 catches for 109 yards. Michael Crabtree led the team with 9 receptions for 111 yards and had a touchdown catch late in the third to put the Raiders up by 10. He also had more than a couple clutch third down receptions.

Andre Holmes came up with 3 receptions including a bigtime 21-yard catch that he held onto after taking a huge hit. Seth Roberts didn’t touch the ball until about 30 seconds left in the game, but his one catch was the game winning score. Carr completed 30 passes on Sunday; 16 went to either Cooper or Crabtree, 20 went to a wide receiver, including all three touchdown throws. It was a huge game for the wide receiver group.

Tight Ends: C-

In a game characterized by the pass, Raider tight ends were again a non factor. The three tight ends managed 5 receptions for a total of 25 yards, with three catches and 15 yards coming from Mychal Rivera. It didn’t seem to matter, because the Raider wideouts were unstoppable, but this group – especially Rivera and Walford – is going to need to start contributing soon.

Offensive Line: B

The Raiders offensive line played strong game against a tough Ravens front on Sunday. They kept Derek Carr clean, giving up only a single sack for a negligible loss. They got a push in the run game when it was needed, helping Latavius Murray average 4.3 yards per carry and clearing the way for him to pick up three first downs and a touchdown on the ground. Special recognition should go to Raider right tackle Austin Howard, who spent most of the game tasked with blocking elite pass rusher Elvis Dumervil.

Defensive Line: D

For the second straight week, the vaunted Raider pass rush was a giant goose egg in the sacks category and once again Aldon Smith had the sole hit on the opposing quarterback. The unit was worn completely out due to the heat late in the game, but that doesn’t explain the almost total lack of pressure on Joe Flacco, even if the Ravens did run max protect most of the game.

The Ravens also had their way in the run game for the most part: Baltimore running backs managed 107 yards on 23 carries combined, and the Ravens managed 6 first downs on the ground. This unit has underperformed.

Linebackers: C

Possibly due to the deficiencies of the D-line, Raider linebackers Curtis Lofton and Malcolm Smith tallied a combined 25 tackles, including 7 solo tackles each. But for the second straight week, the linebackers struggled in coverage against an unheralded tight end: this time it was Crockett Gilmore, who had five catches for 88 yards and two scores. While some of that blame also falls on the secondary, it’s clearly a recurring issue and needs to be addressed.

Secondary: D+

For most of this game this unit deserves an F ranking. Safeties got caught out of position. Corners got beat. A 37 year old man caught 10 passes for 150 yards. Joe Flacco threw for almost 400 yards. It was ugly. But the Raiders secondary also came up big on multiple occasions: an early strip by TJ Carrie helped the Raiders go up 10 early on. And a late pick by Neiko Thorpe sealed the win. Down a man and facing a quarterback who had all day to throw, the Raiders DB group got dissected, but they just managed to control the bleeding enough to get the win.

Coaching: C

Bill Musgrave called a remarkable game on the offensive side. The Raider offense performed at a level we haven’t seen since Hue Jackson was here, and the passing game looked unstoppable at times despite some accuracy issues from Derek Carr. The pass worked and Musgrave stuck with it, to his credit, even when the safe play was to run the ball.

Unfortunately the game was poorly coached on the defensive side, and that blame falls on both Ken Norton and Jack Del Rio. The defense had massive issues with substitutions and shifts, leading to a couple of flags for too many men on the field, a couple instances of playing with only ten, and an instance where Joe Flacco pretty much walked for a first down because the Raider D was out of position. Combine that with a scheme that simultaneously could not cover anyone and also couldn’t get any pressure, and you have a piss poor defensive performance that started at the top.

Overall Grade: C+

The team got an exciting win at home against a very good opponent. They’ll need it as the prepare to go on the road for three of the next four. But the defense MUST improve if this team is going to win consistently down the stretch.

Next: JBB Week 2 Grades: Shannon Bray