Two weeks, two games into the season and the Oakland Raiders are meeting their expectations in many places, and exceeding them in even more spots. The overreactions from their toughness and scary playmaking are interesting but justified. The Raiders transition from dumpster fire to Super Bowl contender is nearly complete.
An Offense of Perfection
The Oakland Raiders didn’t add any immediate game changing defensive personnel to their team through free agency. The two major additions the Raiders did add are two offensive weapons who have transformed the offense into a dynamic power. Although jumping the gun with that reaction, Marshawn Lynch and tight end journeyman Jared Cook have added consistency to the Raiders offensive gameplan.
Lynch has brought his legendary beastly mind set to the Raiders backfield and that toughness has spread. DeAndre Washington runs with the same hard nose approach of Beast Mode, but combines that with better agility and the quickness of Jalen Richard. The three backs have formed what looks like a perfect running back committee, powered by the dominant offensive line.
With a mostly consistent running game, Derek Carr has found many more opportunities in the passing game and feels even more comfortable than usual. The play action is always in the arsenal now and Cook is gashing through the middle and the sidelines. The offensive line is nearly perfect in protection and Michael Crabtree is playing his best football.
The biggest question mark so far is Amari Cooper. Why has he reverted back to brick hands? His concentration is not there and his failure to reach his potential is maddening. This team has the best offense in the league, but it needs Cooper to be the true elite wide receiver that he is. Only then does the overreaction of their dominant offense become fact.
A Defense of Potential
Potential is the only word to describe the talented but inconsistent Oakland Raiders defense. The team has a perfect blend of veterans mixed with the youth that peppers the defensive line, secondary and linebacker corps. One of the most prominent impressions from the first two weeks is the ferocity that Bruce Irvin has begun to install into the mentality of the Raiders. In two straight weeks, he has been called for an unnecessary roughness penalty on two similar plays, slamming the ballcarrier to the ground. Regardless of whether the calls were justified, his physical play is mentally game changing.
The other veteran leader, safety Reggie Nelson looks a lot more comfortable as the leader of the secondary, and his play is helping Karl Joseph grow. Joseph has several highlights already through this season. He has been a force in the run game, disruptive defending the pass, and found a lot of success pressuring the quarterback on blitzes.
The Raiders allowed the Tennessee Titans to score on the first possession for Marcus Mariota and the offense, but after that, Tennessee was kept out of the end zone. In the home opener versus the New York Jets, quarterback Josh McCown was too successful moving the ball up the field in certain possessions. The running game gashed the Raiders at moments as well gaining 126 yards on five yards per carry, and the Jets ended up scoring 20 points.
The stats and point totals tell one story, the film tells another. Cornerback David Amerson is still getting burned by inferior wide receivers, the linebackers aren’t stopping the run well enough, and the 2016 Defensive Player of the Year Khalil Mack is not receiving good enough coaching or play calls to maximize his talents. The talent is there, the consistency is not.
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