Week One: A Closer Look

Chase On Tape: Season 02 Vol. 01

Jon Gruden’s first game back as head coach of the Oakland Raiders fell on Monday Night Football. Raider Nation witnessed a let-down as Oakland fell to the Rams 33-13. Oakland’s performance left us with much to digest, so lets dive in and take a look.

The Good

The 2018 season began with a bang for the Oakland Raiders. With Marshawn Lynch giving the Black Hole a new classic highlight to remember on the opening drive of the game. Lynch finished out the night with 11 carries for 41 yards, giving him less than 4 YPC.

Beastmode ran hard enough to prove he has plenty left in the tank. Despite having only 11 carries, the RB had showed off his patented stiff arm, ran through tacklers, and pushed what seemed like the entire Rams’ defense into the end zone.

Speaking of Lynch’s first touchdown of the season, it would be irresponsible to not give Rodney Hudson credit for helping push the pile enough to help Marshawn regain his momentum and score. According to PFF, Hudson graded out with a 75.4, which was the 2nd best performance on the team. Hudson may just be the most well rounded player on Oakland’s entire offensive line. The Raiders’ Center continues to be one of the most underrated lineman in football.

Also, along the offensive line, both LT Kolton Miller and RT Donald Penn deserve recognition for the work they put in. On 41 passing attempts, neither tackle gave up a single sack and were responsible for only 4 combined pressures.

No player had a larger impact statistically than Jared Cook. PFF graded Cook as the 2nd best TE in the NFL through Week 1. The veteran caught 9 of 12 passes thrown his way and set a franchise record with 180 receiving yards. Four of his catches went for at least 20 yards.

Cook flashed finesse at the top of his route, the athleticism to get yards after the catch, reliable hands without a single drop, and the physicality to run through defenders to get a well deserved 1st down. There is no question that fantasy football players were racing to the waiver wire this week in hopes of acquiring Oakland’s standout TE.

On the defensive side, Leon Hall logged the best grade from PFF at 68.4. Many Raiders fans refused to believe Hall would be a contributor once the regular season began. On Monday night, Hall played much of the game as Oakland’s slot defender. The 33 year-old Corner finished the game with 6 combined tackles, a near interception in the end zone, and solid coverage against the pass all evening. Raiders fans will soon be warming up to veteran Leon Hall.

The Bad

Derek Carr finished the night with the worst opening game performance of his career earning a 62.8 quarterback rating. At the end of the 1st half, Carr was 20 of 24 for 199 yards. In the 2nd half, Carr went 9 of 16 for only 101 total yards. Carr had 3 costly interceptions including a game sealing interception intended for Cook, which was returned for a touchdown by Marcus Peters.

In Week 2 the Raiders travel to Denver. Carr has never thrown for over 260 against the Broncos defense, and has been sacked 16 times in 7 meetings.

On the defensive side of the ball, Oakland allowed Goff to have a clean pocket for most of the night. Bruce Irvin was responsible for Oakland’s only sack, and he made it count by swatting the ball out of the quarterbacks hand for a forced fumble.

Rookie Arden Key had a rough NFL debut. Although he did lead the team in QB pressures with 2. Aside from those, Key was on the ground or out of position on too many plays. Moving forward it will be critical for Oakland to pressure opposing QBs. After playing it safe with a four-man rush for most of the night against the Rams, it will be interesting to see if the Raiders blitz more moving forward.

The Raiders defense had a tough time defending LA’s rushing attack. The Rams ran the ball 26 times and averaged 5.4 YPC.

With Oakland’s run stuffing DT Justin Ellis now placed on IR, the already thin defensive front is now filled with even more question marks. Newly signed DTs Clinton Mcdonald and Jonathan Hankins will have to hit the ground running and contribute right away if the Raiders are going to be able to stuff opposing running lanes.

In the 1st half Oakland’s 2018 pass defense looked to be improved, with 3 passes defensed and only 52 passing yards allowed up until halftime. The second half was another story as LA notched over 170 yards on an aggressive passing attack.

Reggie Nelson consistently allowed receivers to get behind him on deep attempts that almost hooked up, and play action rollouts allowed Goff to find open WRs for enough explosive plays to run away with the game.

Without any success rushing the QB, Oakland’s pass defense may end up with too much pressure on their shoulders. After a season in which Oakland set an NFL record for consecutive games without intercepting a pass, the Raiders travel to Denver to face journeyman QB Case Keenum in hopes of snatching their first INT of 2018.

Written by: Chase Bugas

@RaidersUnsung