Next, let’s take a look at three areas where the Raiders need to make immediate improvements.
1. Too Many Penalties
It was a theme of the preseason, and to be frank, it’s been a theme of the last 13 or so years. The Raiders commit way too penalties.
In three of the four preseason games, Oakland committed double-digit penalties. In the regular season opener, they were called for 14 penalties, totaling an astounding 141 yards. A pace of that many penalties would shatter the single-season records by nearly 60 penalties and 1,000 yards.
Here is the damage:
Three defensive pass interference penalties, one offensive pass interference, two false starts, three offensive holding, two holdings on kick returns, one holding on a punt return, one defensive holding, and one encroachment.
Oakland cannot continue this and expect to win on a consistent basis.
2. Allowed 400+ Passing Yards
Yes, Drew Brees is a future Hall of Famer and is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, but allowing 423 passing yards from any quarterback is unacceptable.
That was Brees did against a revamped Raiders secondary, on 66.67% completion percentage to go along with four touchdown passes. That performance was good for a QB rating of 131.3.
With numbers like that, multiple receivers are bound to have big days, and Willie Snead and Brandin Cooks did just that. Nine catches for 172 yards and one TD for Snead, and six catches for 143 yards and two touchdowns for Cooks.
It got so bad, that star free agent signing Sean Smith was benched. Obviously not ideal for a player in his first game with the team, fresh off a $40M contract. But as a bigger, longer cornerback, speedy wide receivers give Smith (and similar players) trouble. So no need to panic, unless this continues.
With Smith, Amerson, Nelson and Joseph hyped up in the offseason as the new-look secondary, it was a rough start to the year. Joseph only played nine snaps, but he might have to be thrown into the fire if his teammates get torched again.
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3. Lack of OL Depth
The offensive line is absolutely a strength for this team — the starting five, at least. Penn, Osemele, Hudson, Jackson and Watson/Howard is a formidable group. But that group is not the problem.
With Austin Howard already injured, it took less than one half of football for Menelik Watson to find himself in the same boat. It took less than another half of football for Matt McCants to join them.
Suddenly, Oakland had no right tackle — Vadal Alexander was inactive — and the Raiders had to shuffle the line. Osemele was the new left tackle, Penn slid over to the right side, and Feliciano filled Osemele’s spot at left guard.
Fortunately, the team still didn’t allow a single sack, but if any of the injuries to Watson, Howard or McCants will lead to more missed games, the Raiders need to do something to address the lack of depth.