Seven days ago, the Raiders’ direction changed drastically after head coach Jon Gruden resigned from his position with the team after emails leaked from his past. Yesterday, the Silver and Black got their first win in the post-Jon Gruden era of Raiders football with a 34-24 beat down of the Denver Broncos that was not as close as the final score indicated.
This past week’s practices had a really weird feel to them. Interim head coach Rich Bisaccia attempted to make things seem normal, but how could he? The Raiders started the season off high, and would eventually lose two straight games and their head coach.
To say the Raiders were facing adversity would be an understatement.
“We needed a win bad this week,’’ Raiders quarterback Derek Carr said Sunday. “Sometimes when you get punched in the gut, it’s hard to bounce back. But we were able to do it.’’
The Raiders were able to bounce back after a punch to the gut. They started Sunday’s game off with a touchdown after not scoring on an opening drive for 11 straight weeks dating back to last season. The Raiders have struggled on offense the past two seasons with consistency throughout the game, but on Sunday they were able to score points in every quarter.
Derek Carr looked like he did during the team’s 3-0 start, firing off deep passes to his receivers downfield and giving them chances to make plays. On 18 completions, Carr threw for 341 yards, an average of 12.6 yards per completion, which is the highest YPC of his career.
Carr looked and felt comfortable on Sunday. OC Greg Olson was getting plays to his QB quickly, which allowed Carr to get to the line of scrimmage, and change a play if necessary. Olson trusts Carr’s decision-making and gave him the keys to the offense. He allowed Carr to push the tempo and it really opened things up for the Silver and Black.
“He was giving the plays to me so early so I had time at the line of scrimmage to go fast or push the tempo or trick them,” Carr said. “We got an offsides because he was pushing the tempo in the headset and I was able to get the guys set. It was very smooth.”
The Raider’s offensive line also had a great game in both phases of the game. When it came to pass blocking, they were ranked as the 21st offensive line coming into this week’s game. They responded to the challenge, giving up only 3 QB hits on Sunday. They were ranked as a top 15 unit in Week 6 in pass blocking. They also averaged 4.1 yards per rush, opening up rushing lanes for the running backs.
The Raiders defense also responded to the adversity this team faced. Prior to a late garbage-time touchdown, the Raiders had held Teddy Bridgewater to less than 300 yards passing and 3 interceptions. Johnathan Abram, Brandon Facyson, and Tre’von Moehrig all had an interception.
But it was the defensive line that most stepped up to the challenge, led by a Gus Bradley chess move prior to Sunday’s game. Knowing the Denver Broncos were game-planning for a mixture of Darius Philon, Solomon Thomas, and Quinton Jefferson, Bradley decided to switch things up.
Darius Philon was a healthy scratch and the Raiders decided to roll forward with DTs Damion Square and Kendal Vickers, two guys who haven’t played for the Raiders this season, and it paid dividends. Square started the game off strong, getting multiple pressures early on. He would finish the game with 2 sacks.
As a whole, the defensive line got it done. After starting off strong Weeks 1-3, garnering 25 combined QB hits and sacks, they had only 8 total combined QB hits and sacks in Weeks 4 and 5. If the Raiders wanted to have success, it would be up to the defensive line, and boy did they deliver. In Week 6, the defensive line combined for a whopping 16 QB hits and sacks. Maxx Crosby was credited with 5 sacks by Pro Football Focus.
“I feel like we’ve been rushing really well, we just haven’t finished,” Crosby said Sunday. “Today, we finished. We got to the quarterback consistently. I can’t say enough about Quinton Jefferson, Solomon Thomas, Yannick — all those guys played a big part in me getting to the quarterback.”
The Raiders play the Philadelphia Eagles next week at home, a game that could determine the future of this team.
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