Point of no return is defined as: “The point beyond which one must continue on one’s current course of action because turning back is physically impossible, prohibitively expensive, or dangerous”
Captain Obvious moment here, but suffice it to say, the Oakland Raiders emphatically crossed that threshold in its 31-30 win over the Kansas City Chiefs last Thursday.
Let’s cut the chase. It would be inherently dangerous for offensive coordinator Todd Downing to depart from what the Raiders did against the Chiefs. To revert back to the dink & dunk offense that preceded Thursday night’s exploration into creativity and aggression could have detrimental effects on a team that is showing signs of life after a four-game losing skid left players and fans alike seeking answers.
Downing had a “come to Jesus moment” amidst the darkest hours as the offense languished in NFL purgatory. And anything less than building upon the impressive winning display would be heinous.
“I think we looked like a completely different team,” heavily-involved tight end Jared Cook said. “I can’t put my finger on it, but we need to play like that every week. It was something we’ve been looking for and something we needed.”
“The way we responded last week, we just want to bottle that up and keep it going,” said newcomer and instant-starting middle linebacker NaVorro Bowman.
I would be remiss if I didn’t call a spade a spade though. The Chiefs defense isn’t a proper barometer of “We’re Back”. Kansas City’s defense is a habitual practitioner of the improper. Ever since the team lost stalwart safety Eric Berry, the secondary — besides cornerback Marcus Peters — can and will be toyed with.
But this is not to diminish the Raiders’ offensive rejuvenation. It’s meant to bring the following point across: If Downing engineers and quarterback Derek Carr conducts an offensive freight train against Buffalo, the “Their Back” talk gains deafening volume.
Sean McDermott’s Buffalo Bills are ranked second in the league in the least points allowed (101 total). Only the Seahawks yield less at 94. Sure, the BIlls give up a bevy or yard (343.2 per game, good for the 21st ranking in the league), McDermott’s bisons can stymie drives before points hit the scoreboard. His squad is third in the league in interceptions (nine) and fifth in forced fumbles (eight, with four recoveries). All this from a defense that spends an average of 31:38 minutes per game on the field.
In comparison, Jack Del Rio’s defenders spend 32:06 on the field and are tied 22nd in points given up (156) and 26th in yards per game (360.6).
So you see folks, a Silver & Black avalanche Sunday goes a long way to separate the team from the tip-toe version that suffered loss after disheartening loss. We’ve witnessed the Raiders offense when it’s not creative and predictable.
Against the mediocre Chiefs defense, we saw Downing give wideout Amari Cooper ample time in the slot. And what happened?
An 11-catch, 210-yard, two-touchdown breakout evening.
We saw Carr with Carr the much-needed time to survey the field and go deep. And what happened?
The QB’s first 300-yard passing game (417 to be exact) of the season and a trio of TD strikes.
What was once absent arrived with a vengeance.
I’m down to see how all that would play out against a much stingier defense.
I mean come on, at 3-4 overall, what does Oakland have to lose?
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather see the Raiders go down swinging haymakers wildly than getting dropped while meekly covering up like a turtle in its shell.