3 Takeaways: Week 1 @ TEN

After a strong, tone-setting, road win for the Raiders against an opponent I was personally very high on, I spent the rest of my afternoon sorting through my mentions and addressing the obvious question:

How did you honestly pick this team to win only seven games this season?

It’s only one game, and that prediction may have looked off a week or so ago, but it certainly looks off now.

You try and not get too high after a win (or too low after a loss, for that matter). But what the Raiders did, traveling to Tennessee, really can’t be overstated enough. The defense, namely, looked more-than-competent (save for the opening series, or so) for a majority of the game.

While I tabbed this team for obvious regression, citing close victories in 2016, coupled with a suspect defense heading into the season, I did contend that 8 wins could absolutely be in the range of outcomes. 8 or 9 wins seems like the new obvious floor after leaving Nashville, however.

We knew about the offense coming into the year. We knew Derek and all the players around him were good last season, with a chance to be even better in 2017. Despite my apparent pessimism, the quality of the offense was never in question.

To be clear, this is not an attempt to back-peddle whatsoever. I have no interest in doing so. I also have no issue with admitting I was wrong. Honestly, that’s the fun in all this for me. You stick your neck out, plant your flag (with appropriate reason, of course), and see how events unfold. It’s similar to watching college football players in that regard. Everyone’s opinion on the same player may vary – some higher, some lower – so arriving at the eventual “conclusion” is what we’re all playing for.

Anyway, at the end of the day, the point of all of this is to have fun. Writing about the team, talking about the team – both positives and negatives – whatever it may be.

It looked like Raiders had some fun yesterday.

Welcome back, Marshawn.

With so much to talk about, especially coming off a win, it’s hard to single out only three “headlines”.

No matter how we go about this thing, there’s no way we’re not going to talk about 24.

The source of “fun” for the Raiders, I imagine, is largely due to Lynch’s presence. Whether it was his first carry, making three or four defenders miss, or running over 305-pound Jurrell Casey, I think we’re safe to say that Marshawn is “back”. The Raiders’ haven’t had that “grinder” that can push for those hard 3 or 4 yards in the past, he brings a whole new attitude to an already-potent offense.

How will his body feel after 12 or 13 weeks, that’s to be determined, but if the Raiders’ backfield rotation against the Titans yesterday was any indication, he’ll have plenty of time to get right and stay right this season.

Déjà Vanderdose?

How incredibly corny is that for a lead-in, you guys?

You talk about Eddie Vanderdoes, and you’re most likely going to hear about Mario Edwards Jr. Two early-round selections for Oakland who were highly-recruited coming into their respective colleges, and both players who didn’t quite “live up to expectations” during their time at school.

Edwards has been working hard to get back to 100% this offseason, and it appears he’s done just that – for now.

Vanderdoes, the rookie by way of UCLA, is just working. Building on a strong offseason, Eddie flashed plenty against a impressive Titans’ offensive line. With 4 pressures on 20 attempts (per PFF), the former Bruin capped things off by running over All-Pro right tackle Jack Conklin, the former Spartan:

I mentioned the Raiders’ defensive front a couple of times in my prediction and write-up. I had circled Vanderdoes’ name. If he hits, early, things obviously get a lot easier for Oakland moving forward. Pressure up the middle was nonexistent for the Raiders’ in season’s past, and the addition of Eddie V. (coupled with a healthy Mario) looks to change that.

We can spend this entire portion of the article discussing Oakland’s efforts on defense as a whole, if we wanted to. They played well, and certainly a lot better than I had anticipated. I pegged Marcus Mariota and this Tennessee offense as a unit ready to breakout in 2017. While that’s still entirely possible, the Raiders were able to hold 2016’s third ranked rushing attack to under 100 yards (on 21 carries). Not bad for opening Sunday.

While there’s still work to be done across the board, and Mariota was able to complete a few big passes on some even bigger catches, overall, it was a performance you have to be excited about moving forward.

Amari’s breakout season begins.

This is the year, you guys.

I talked it up all offseason, but this is finally the year when all the stars align and Amari Cooper safely moves into that next tier of wide receiver greatness.

Cooper commanded 13 targets on Sunday. He had a frustrating series, setup nearly on the goal line, where he had three legitimate opportunities to score. While securing (only) 5 for 62 yards and a touchdown, I was elated to see Carr actively “force” him the ball in the red area. His usage in these situations, in previous seasons, has always been puzzling. Let’s hope this is a sign of things to come.

Last words…

First-year offensive coordinator Todd Downing looked right at home with the play sheet. It’s a testament to his relationship with Derek Carr, as well. This front office and coaching staff alike thought highly of him, and after only one weekend, it’s easy to see why. Sticking with the “don’t get too high” theme, we’ll end the praise there. But the future appears bright as ever.

With no bigger pads to fill (literally and metaphorically) than Sebastian Janikowski, Giorgio Tavecchio was effortless yesterday afternoon. With two 52-yard strikes, and finishing 4-for-4 on the day, perhaps that injury reserve news for Jano won’t be as crippling with GT on the field.

Jared Cook looks like a factor on offense, and someone this staff is going to continue to scheme around. Going from a great quarterback like Aaron Rodgers to a better one is a luxury very few players get to enjoy, outside of our guy James Jones.

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


3 thoughts on “3 Takeaways: Week 1 @ TEN

  1. For a moment in the first half I thought oh **** same crappy D ! Then things improved in the second half! One game at a time, if the D can keep improving each week we may have a legitimate chance of a deep run in the post season. GO RAIDERS!

  2. The biggest thing I noted about the Raider D was the DBs were contesting passes consistently. Titans receivers made some great catches with Raider DBs all over them. They’ll get better and soon get there heads around and pick and knock the ball down on some of these type of plays. The Raider secondary played well in this game.

  3. I was of the same opinion going into this game. 10-6 seemed like the absolute best the team could hope for, with 9-7 much more likely. Now, though, most anything seems possible, although we should all wait to see how they do with teams with better receivers and a better quarterback. We also need to see if KC is really that good and the Pats are getting too old.

    I remember that, the last time the Raiders made to the Super Bowl, they had the League’s best offense and only an average defense. That same formula could work this year too.

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