1. Vadal Alexander
To Alexander’s credit, he didn’t allow a single sack on Sunday. Keeping the franchise quarterback on his feet is priority number one, priority number two, and priority number three. So kudos to Vadal for his effort in pass protection.
But the reason why Vadal makes the list is because outside of that, it was a rough day for the rookie right tackle. Which as a seventh-round pick in his first career start, is understandable.
In total, Alexander committed four penalties against the Ravens. Three of them were holding, and the fourth was a false start. So that’s four penalties for 35 yards committed by a single player.
One of them was brutal. 3rd & 6 with about two minutes to go until halftime. Carr scrambles for seven yards to convert the first down. Oakland would have had a first down on Baltimore’s side of the field, with time on the clock and timeouts left, with a chance to build on a 14-3 lead.
Instead, the penalty negated the first down and the Raiders punted one play later. The Ravens scored a field goal on the ensuing drive, cutting the lead to 14-6 (one possession), and they also had the ball coming back in the second half.
Fortunately, Mike Tice is the best in the business, so Vadal should certainly learn from his mistakes and improve going forward. Best case scenario, the right tackles get healthy, but if Vadal is called upon once again, some improvements will be needed.
2. Run Game
19 carries for 62 yards — that was the total production from the run game against Baltimore.
DeAndre Washington accounted for nearly half of that, logging 5 carries for 30 yards. Latavius Murray had by far his worst game of the year, gaining just 19 yards on 8 carries. Jalen Richard added 15 yards on a pair of carries.
The run game only managed 3.3 yards per carry, and that simply won’t cut it.
Not to create too much panic, but this is the fourth consecutive game the total yards rushing has declined. From Week 1 to Week 4 — 167, 139, 123, and now 62. But Oakland still had the #2 rushing offense headed into Baltimore, and shouldn’t drop too far after the lackluster showing.
The one concern moving forward with the running back by committee is that it’s been difficult for any of the backs to get into a groove.
Everyone is staying fresh, which is always a positive, but the Raiders leading rusher in a single game was Richard in Week 1, with 84 yards. But 75 of those came on one carry. Outside of that, Murray rushed for 57 in Week 2, and Washington picked up that same amount in Week 3.
San Diego is the sixth ranked rushing defense, and that is who Oakland has up next. It’ll be a tough test for the run game to get back on track, but we’ll see if they’re up to the challenge.
This is a general observation — something I wanted to avoid, but it was just too hard to pinpoint one specific area.
While the defense has made some improvements since the first two disastrous weeks, and while there were a few bright spots in the win, there is still a lot of work to be done.
Joe Flacco completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 298 yards, although he was limited to one touchdown pass. 37-year old Steve Smith was the primary receiving weapon, grabbing 8 receptions for 111 yards and a touchdown.
On the ground, Terrance West — a running back the Browns cut in 2015 — carved up the run defense to the tune of 113 yards and a touchdown on just 21 carries. West is a mediocre player at best, and the Ravens offensive line was banged up, yet West still racked up 5.4 yards per carry.
In total, the Raiders gave up 412 yards. Only four teams are giving up that many yards per game for the season.
But hopefully the team can keep making improvements. It won’t be an overnight fix, and they’ll have Aldon Smith (hopefully) and Mario Edwards Jr. back, so if they can hang in there until then, those two will make a big impact.