Oakland Raiders: Bye Week Notes And Observations

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October 11, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders fullback Marcel Reece (45) celebrates after scoring a touchdown with tight end Lee Smith (86) and tight end Clive Walford (88) during the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

For the Oakland Raiders, the bye week couldn’t have come at a better time. Coming off a gut wrenching streak that saw the Raiders give away two games they could have – and should have – won, a week to step back and stop the bleeding may be just what the doctor ordered. But it’s not a week to sit back and relax. With eleven games left in the season, and Oakland facing a three game deficit to the division leading Broncos, there is a lot of work left to be done.

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One of the biggest benefits of the bye week is that it will give the Raiders a chance to rest up and get healthy. They’ve had a number of players like Justin Ellis, Benson Mayowa, and Taiwan Jones miss significant time with injuries. There are also the walking wounded like Charles Woodson, Travis Carrie, and Michael Crabtree who will benefit from a little downtime.

Of course, the Raiders have lost Justin Tuck for the year with a pectoral muscle sustained against the Broncos, so the extra week will give his likely replacement, Mario Edwards Jr. a chance to acclimate to his new role. In limited action so far this season, he’s been relatively effective, but a chance to take all of the first team reps will only benefit the rookie.

Offensively, the Raiders have been up and down. They’ve shown flashes of how strong and potent this offense can be, but they’ve also shown that they really need to work on their consistency. Dropped passes, poor decision making, and terrible ball security have helped doom the Raiders these last two weeks against Chicago and Denver.

If the Raiders are going to make a push coming out of the bye, the offense is going to need to fix those issues.

Defensively, the game against Denver may have been their best of the season. The defensive front was strong and powerful, harassing Peyton Manning all day, sacking him twice and forcing him into two picks. They bottled up the running game, limiting Denver to just 43 yards on the day. And although Denver’s receivers got some yards, led by Emmanuel Sanders‘ 111 yards on nine receptions, they kept Manning from throwing a touchdown strike.

In fact, the Raiders’ defense kept Denver’s offense out of the endzone entirely. Three field goals and Chris Harris‘ pick-six accounted for all of the Broncos points in the game. It was a stout effort from a unit that is looking like it may be on the rise.

The Raiders are a far better team than most of the sports media industry believed they could be at the outset of the season. If not for a few bad breaks and boneheaded blunders, this Oakland squad could easily be 4-1.

But they’re not, and as a result of those bad breaks and boneheaded blunders, they sit at 2-3 and have a pretty big mountain to climb after their bye week. The good news is that the arrow seems to be pointing up and this Oakland team has a real chance to challenge for a playoff spot.

But for that to happen there is still much work to be done…

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