The Oakland Raiders played a very good game last Sunday, almost good enough to beat the Indianapolis Colts.
Oakland led almost every positive category: rushing, receiving, first downs (20-18), 3rd down efficiency (7-13 to 6 of 10 for the Colts).
On the flip side, they led in negative categories as well: turnovers (2), and penalties (8 for 51 yards, which is a major improvement) The Raiders even led in the fourth quarter, 17-14 with 5:20 to go in the game.
With the whole team needing a makeover, parts of the team are still in shambles. Yet, the Raiders took one small step towards bringing the program back to its winning ways and hopefully will continue to improve with time and experience.
The secondary will play as good as the pass rush will allow. Against the Colts, Andrew Luck was sacked four times and hit in the mouth several times during the game.
With that said, in the beginning of the game, Luck completed eight passes in a row with ease. The secondary looked confused and dazed; wide open receivers would validate that point.
Charles Woodson didn’t have much of an impact in his first game back. Cornerback Tracy Porter was beaten for one touchdown after slipping in the end zone. Tyvon Branch was a little more effective, and did get one of the Raiders’ four sacks.
With nine new starters on defense, you expect for there to be chaos, but with experience, it should disappear as fast as it appeared. An example of the Raiders’ chaos: Mychal Rivera, a sixth-round draft pick, caught two passes for 26 yards, but he was also called for too many men on the field during Oakland’s final drive.
The Raiders’ running game was non-existent in 2012 with the zone snooze. It was just as sad and pitiful in the first game of the 2013 season — in the power mode, if you will. Darren McFadden scored the team’s only rushing touchdown, but was otherwise shut down, cut off and not allowed to participate in the game. He had 48 yards on 17 carries for just a 2.8-yard average. McFadden’s stock has dropped, and resigning him should be on a performance-based criteria. Yes, it is game one, but if there is a pattern here, McFadden is a non-factor.
One aspect of the game that was a surprise was the kicking game. Sebastian Janikowski misses his first field-goal attempt of the season, a 48-yarder that is a chip shot for him. That miss was larger than life, as it forced the Raiders to have to go for a touchdown rather than a potential go-ahead field goal on the final drive. Let’s not forget that the Sea-Bass is working with a different holder in Marquette King.
Speaking of King, the Raiders’ new punter played well with two explosive kicks to show off his range, and some so-so kick that exposed his lack of direction on directional kicks.
Oakland is still in its infancy of being what was once a dominant empire, starting nine new players on defense and a QB that has only started one other NFL game. The fact is the Raiders had won only one of its previous 10 season openers.
With all that being said, the Raiders were in position to pull off what would have been a stunning upset and become the talk of the NFL.