Oakland Raiders: Week 2 Grades
By Chase Ruttig
Sep 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fans react during the game against the Baltimore Ravens as at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
Derek Carr played the best game of his young NFL career Sunday. Although he still continued to struggle with accuracy at times, Carr’s miscues should be overlooked due to his overall solid performance in Oakland’s first win of the 2015 season.
Carr demonstrated great poise in the pocket, as he was able to fully step into nearly all of his throws and easily found enough holes in the Ravens’ pass rush to step up in the pocket in order to extend the play. With the increased amount of time he had during his drops, Carr responded to the good pass protection well by successfully going through his reads and finding the open receiver.
After throwing an interception late in the fourth quarter that nearly cost Oakland the game, Carr took the Raiders 80-yards down the field in under two minutes to win the game with a 12-yard touchdown pass to Seth Roberts. Carr proved to the Raider Nation that he is a quarterback that can win the game late, and that is what made all the difference.
His accuracy issues and forced decision on the interception keep him from earning an A, but his improvement has not gone unnoticed.
Running Backs: A-
Latavius Murray wasn’t relied on to carry the offense down the field or really wear down the defense, but he performed well when given the opportunity and substantially affected Oakland’s ability to successfully move the ball down the field. Despite punching in a one-yard touchdown early in the second quarter, Murray’s biggest contribution to the offense was his ability to churn out solid gains on first and second down.
With 15 carries for 65 yards, Murray finished the game with an average of roughly 4.3 yards a carry, which in turn, consistently had Oakland’s offense setting up manageable third downs. Murray stayed patient in the backfield to allow the holes to create themselves rather than forcing himself into crowded space.
Wide Receivers: A
The combination of Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree finally lived up to the hype, as the two receivers combined for 220 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Though he did have some questionable drops, Cooper put together an extremely impressive performance that included a 68-yard touchdown on Oakland’s first drive of the ball game. His route running ability continues to be a strength, while he also looked effective running after the catch on short passes and screen plays.
Crabtree had multiple great catches on key downs, as he continues to be a great possession-receiver for an Oakland offense in desperate need for a reliable third-down target. I also want to mention the performance of both Andre Holmes and Seth Roberts, as the two receivers had a significant impact on the outcome of the game. Roberts of course caught the game-winning touchdown with just 26-seconds left on the clock, while Holmes had a nice catch in traffic that set up Murray’s one-yard score.
Tight Ends: C
While Mychal Rivera and Marcel Reece both had some solid catches throughout the game, the group itself simply didn’t have the amount of impact expected from such a talented slew of tight ends. I expect bigger plays from this group moving forward, but for now they sit among the worst graded offensive group for the Raiders in Week 2.
Offensive Line: B+
Oakland’s offensive line allowed just one sack against a Baltimore Ravens defense that got Peyton Manning to the ground four times in Week 1. Both Donald Penn and Austin Howard did a great job of washing their faster edge-rushers up field to allow Carr to step up in the pocket, while also holding their own against aggressive bull-rushing techniques.
I thought they could have done a better job preventing so much early penetration in the backfield in the run game, but overall Gabe Jackson and Rodney Hudson bullied Baltimore’s interior defensive line enough to create a good amount of run lanes throughout the game.
An area of focus moving forward should be for this group to reduce the amount of penalties thrown their way, but I’m sure Del Rio will place an emphasis on exactly that as the season progresses.
Defensive Line: C-
Oakland’s defensive line must find a way to put pressure on the quarterback. Though the talent on the edges is supposedly there with free agent addition Aldon Smith and sophomore Khalil Mack, the Raiders’ defense simply isn’t getting there.
Although Oakland seemed to bottle up Forsett quite well, they still allowed the Ravens to rush for over a 100 yards with a 4.4 yards per carry average. Dan Williams performed well for a majority of the game, but it was still seemingly clear that they were struggling without starting defensive tackle Justin Ellis.
Ray-Ray Armstrong’s consecutive underwhelming performance is officially a cause for concern, as the young outside linebacker is visibly struggling to hold the edge on outside runs and has become quite the liability in coverage. Though Armstrong’s poor play had a significant impact on the game, it still shouldn’t overshadow the solid performances out of both Curtis Lofton and Malcolm Smith. Both linebackers proved that they could regularly make tackles in the open field, while Smith also looked like he could hold his own in coverage at times.
While there is room for praise for some of Oakland’s linebackers, they still should be held responsible for Ravens tight end Crockett Gilmore running wild on their defense for 88 yards and two touchdowns. Whether or not this is a scheme problem, someone must begin to address why both Tyler Eifert and Crockett Gilmore gutted Oakland’s defense over the last two weeks.
As one of many not in favor of D.J. Hayden’s play during the preseason and Week 1, it surprises me to say that Hayden actually flashed some of his first-round potential against Baltimore. Primarily working out of the slot, Hayden looked like he was holding his own against some of Baltimore’s receiver deeper on the depth chart, but no Raiders defensive back had a successful time limiting Steve Smith Sr.’s production. Smith Sr. brought in 10 receptions for 150 yards.
Neiko Thorpe also came in and made some plays when lined up at the outside corner spot.
Raiders’ safeties Charles Woodson and Larry Asante both struggled tackling players in the open field, while they also were apart of some blown coverages deep down the field.
Defensive Coordinator: F
To put it simply, Ken Norton Jr’s defense gave up 493 total yards of offense and 33 points. While a lot of the negative statistics can be accredited to the lack of talent Oakland has in the secondary, Norton Jr. still has to find a way to get pressure on the quarterback. Oakland won’t be able to keep pulling wins off like this if Norton Jr. doesn’t start putting quarterbacks down in the backfield, and in turn, making it easier for his corners to make plays in the secondary.
Offensive Coordinator: A-
While there were some calls I wouldn’t have made offensively, offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave still led an offense to nearly 450 yards and a total of 37 points. Oakland’s offense did a much better job of staying on the field and converting third downs. Musgrave looked as if he finally took the lid off the offense in order to allow Carr to sling the ball deeper more often. Given their matchup against a very talented Ravens defense, I believe Musgrave deserves a lot of credit for Oakland’s win Sunday.
Head Coach: A
While there weren’t too many game-deciding decisions to make, head coach Jack Del Rio still did a great job of rallying an Oakland Raiders team that was simply embarrassed in Week 1. Great coaches are able to motivate their teams when they are down. Del Rio did exactly that, and his efforts highly contributed to Oakland carrying out their first win of the season.
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