The Oakland Raiders had a rough Monday night, as they were easily handled by the Denver Broncos. The game showed that the Raiders are not quite ready enough to challenge for a division title and still have a ways to go. Peyton Manning had his way with an overmatched Raiders’ defense and the Raiders running game ran into a wall. Despite the many negatives in the game, there were a couple of bright spots. Let’s take a look at the good and the bad from last night:
- The Good -
1. Terrelle Pryor and the passing game find success
Not a lot went right for the Raiders on Monday, but there was a silver lining to the game. That silver lining was the play of Pryor. Pryor looked the best as a quarterback as he has been in his short career and that bodes well for the Raiders in future. He is actively working on becoming a better quarterback and it is showing progress, which gives hope that the team could develop his tools a little more than they expected.
Pryor looked poised and composed throughout the game, as he looked more comfortable in the pocket than in any of his previous starts. He completed nearly 68 percent of his passes for 281 yards and one touchdown. He also added 36 yards on four carries on the ground. The most important stat is the zero turnovers, as the Broncos are a very opportunistic defense with six interceptions in their first two games.
This game has to leave the Raiders feeling very confident in their young quarterback. Pryor has made many positive strides in the first few weeks of the season. He is looking more comfortable in the pocket, which allows him to set his feet to make throws and not just look to run. Pryor’s growth as a passer is going to be vital for the Raiders this season. Also, giving Pryor more help, especially along the offensive line will allow him to be better by taking the weight of the offense off of his shoulders.
2. Raiders cause first two turnovers of the season
The Raiders defense entered the Monday night contest without a single turnover caused during the first two weeks. The Raiders as a team were minus three in the takeaway to giveaway ratio heading into Monday night’s contest. The poor turnover ratio is a major reason why the Raiders had one win, instead of two.
The game was already well in hand prior to the two turnovers forced against the Broncos, but the Raiders turned those in points. The ability to convert turnovers into points will become key in close games and will allow them to upset some of the better teams in the league. Turnovers are major momentum changers and the ability to put points on the board is a way to quickly change the flow of the game.
- The Bad -
1. The defense gets shredded
The story of the game was the poor play of the defense. The defense allowed Manning and the Broncos to march up and down the field almost at will. At one point, the Broncos scored on five consecutive drives and they scored on seven of their 10 total drives. The Raiders could do nothing to slow the Broncos, as they only forced a single punt on the Broncos second drive.
Manning was magnificent, as he complete 86 percent of his passes for 374 yards and three touchdowns. He was sacked once, but the Raiders were unable to create much pressure. The lack of pressure in Manning’s face allowed him to sit in the pocket and pick apart a helpless secondary. Three separate Broncos’ receivers had over 80 receiving yards.
The Raiders’ run defense was equally as poor with 164 yards allowed, as the Broncos averaged nearly five yards a carry. Overall, it was a rough night for a Raiders’ defense that had looked improved during the first two weeks. How they bounce back next week will show how improved this unit is, as they head into the meat of their schedule.
2. The running game goes nowhere
The Raiders’ number one ranked rushing attack went nowhere, as the Broncos stuffed the running lanes. The Raiders gained 49 yards on 17 carries for a 2.9 yards per carry average. The lack of a running game wasted a great night by Pryor, as the Broncos could pin their ears back and freely rush the passer without the threat of a running game.
Pryor was the team’s leading rusher with 36 yards, which came mostly on him being forced to scramble away from pressure. Darren McFadden made more noise with his arm than his feet, which is troubling considering what he is paid to do. McFadden averaged under a yard per carry with nine yards on 12 carries.
This offense is more efficient when the passing game is opened up by the running game. The Raiders have some speed on the outside and that is better utilized with deep shots opened by the play action. It also helps out Pryor by giving him easier reads with teams playing more man coverage to combat the rushing game. The Raiders’ offensive line needs to step up against better competition, as their lone good game came at the expense of the woeful Jaguars.
3. Pryor suffers a concussion in garbage time
The worst news was not the scoreboard in this one, but the Raiders have possibly lost their quarterback for next week. Pryor was hit in a helmet to helmet collision late in the game on designed run play with about six minutes left to play. Pryor would finish the drive, but would be replaced by Matt Flynn on their final offensive possession.
Pryor was diagnosed with a concussion and is doubtful for their game against the Redskins this upcoming Sunday. The lost of Pryor hurts the Raiders’ offense, as he was the cog that the offense revolves around. It might be lessened by the fact the Redskins are one of the worst defenses in the league, but Matt Flynn failed to find success in preseason and does not inspire much confidence in his abilities.
The Raiders would have been a favorite to knock off the Redskins at home with Pryor, but Flynn is a major question mark and it would not be surprising to see the Redskins slow down the Raiders, as they should not fear their passing attack.