Oakland Raiders Enter Second Half of Season with Real Momentum

The Raiders earned a much needed victory last week against the Detroit Lions. They now enter the second half of the season evened up with four wins and four losses, while also matching their win total from the 2018 season. Sunday was a crucial win for a young Raider team that gave away a win on the road to the Houston Texans a week earlier.

The Raiders move forward now with an offense that still has yet to peak and a defense that has a slugger’s chance of stopping opposing teams (i.e. they’re not very good at it).

The Offense.

Quarterback Derek Carr is having a career year. The oft-criticized front man for the offense is making big league throws and giving the team every opportunity to put points on the board. He has been able to do this because the Raiders offensive line is keeping him clean and blowing gaping holes for the running game. Ironically, it’s been the offensive line depth that has been the biggest surprise of the unit so far. The starters on the line have only played about a quarter together all season. Maligned much of last season, OL Coach Tom Cable deserves a massive amount of credit for turning the unit around in only one season.

If the offensive line is the engine, and the passing attack the nitro, then the running game has been the Raiders high octane fuel. Led by rookie phenom Josh Jacobs, the Raiders running attack is plowing through defenses to the tune of 4.8 yards per attempt. It is becoming a juggernaut with FB Alec Ingold paving the way and De’Andre Washington and Jalen Richard both providing solid support off the bench.

Maybe the biggest surprise is the receiving corps led by the tight ends.

With number one wide receiver Tyrell Williams missing a lot of time due to injury, tight end Darren Waller has more than filled the void. Waller is getting a second chance in the NFL and is making the most of it. He has over 500 yards through 8 games. Even after missing time, Williams has made his presence known with five trips into the end zone so far this year. Then there is rookie receiver Hunter Renfro and rookie tight end Foster Moreau – two young pass catchers that have hauled in almost 400 yards and have 5 touchdowns between them.

What to expect going forward.

For the Raiders to have any chance to secure a post season birth, they will need to have their offense leading the way. They should be in luck there, as the offense seems to be improving each week. As long as the offensive unit remains relatively healthy, the best should be yet to come. Time working together, and muscle memory, should continue to streamline the execution.

Speaking of which, head coach Jon Gruden is bringing the weight of his playbook, and using it with surgical precision. His play calling, especially off script, has been exceptionally sneaky and unpredictable. From an offensive play calling standpoint, the last three weeks have been some of the best ever from coach Gruden, and as the players better execute it, the results will only improve.

The Raiders offense has come a long way under Gruden’s short reign and is finally starting to bear fruit. It is ready to make a run, and the only thing that seems to be able to stop it, are self inflicted mistakes.

So Buckle up because the Raiders are ready to roll.

*Tomorrow I will be writing about the Raiders defense… and expect a pleasant surprise of sorts. 


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