Still riding the momentum of their comeback win over the New Orleans Saints, the Oakland Raiders (1-0) will take on the Atlanta Falcons (0-1) at The Coliseum on Sunday, September 18th.
Outperforming future Hall of Fame quarterback Drew Brees in a shootout in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome isn’t easy. Having the guts to try a two-point conversion that would either put you up one point or confirm your loss is a level of coaching not seen everyday.
Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio praised his team for their ability to compete late in last week’s contest.
"“At any moment, you can let go of the rope and you’re done,” Del Rio said in his press conference after the game. “We didn’t. There were some moments that really hurt. It hurt to hang in and keep fighting. I think that we are developing that skill and that ability to do that as an organization and as a team with that grittiness that says ‘Hey, we are going to keep coming. We are going to keep coming all day.’ We came here to win. That is what we are about. I am really proud of our guys for that.”"
Against Atlanta, Del Rio is hoping he won’t have to put everything on the line in the final minute of the game to come away with the win, but that doesn’t mean Oakland isn’t capable of doing just that.
Carr to Stay in Gear
Having completed 24 of 38 passes for 319 yards and the touchdown that led to veteran receiver Michael Crabtree’s game-winning two-point conversion, Raiders third-year quarterback Derek Carr is already off to a stellar start to the 2016 season.
He is expected to have a similar outing against a Falcons defense that allowed Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston to throw for 281 yards and four touchdowns.
Against Tampa Bay, the Falcons struggled to get pressure on Winston the entire day, as they finished the game with zero sacks and just five hits on the Florida State alum.
Falcons defensive coordinator Richard Smith highlighted the Raiders’ ‘big, physical’ offensive line and Carr’s athletic ability as two things to focus in their week of preparation.
"“When you look at their line overall, they’re a big physical group,” Richard said, per James Rael of TheFalcoholic.com. “Ya know, 340 pounds, 330, so it’s a big physical group that can move the line of scrimmage. They’re doing a really nice job of protecting Carr. Plus, Carr has the athletic ability to move around with his feet. A lot of times on third down, he extends those drives, not only with his arm, but with his feet.”"
Carr makes one superman dive over a defender to move the chains on third down, and finally everybody is willing to acknowledge his athleticism. I’m glad it doesn’t take much to earn some recognition.
Regardless of whether or not Carr is getting the job done with his feet, strong protection will lead to good things happening through the air for Carr and the Raiders’ offense.
With that being said, Carr’s top two targets, Crabtree and second-year phenom Amari Cooper, will likely get in on the fun, too.