Marshawn Lynch returning to his terrorizing form. Backup receivers making plays for Derek Carr. And the Oakland Raiders in a three-way tie for first place in the AFC West at 6-6.
Sure we’re not watching Stranger Things Season 3?
“It was some pretty big shoes to fill,” wide out Johnny Holton said of the team missing Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. “Those guys are pretty good receivers. We had to step up and make it happen.”
Despite everything, the Raiders did make it happen.
“It’s just right in front of us. It’s there,” said Carr, the Raiders franchise quarterback, after the team’s 24-17 victory over the visiting New York Giants this past Sunday. “Everything we want to is right there. The NFL … crazy. You gotta stay the course. There’s a lot of adversity that happens every season. You wish you could just go out and win ‘em all and do it in a good way. But that just hasn’t been our road this year.”
No, it has not.
The Jack Del Rio-led Raiders are an homage to Sergio Leone’s masterpiece: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly. The Silver & Black has been equal parts of all three this season. We saw more of it against the downward spiraling G-Men. A big bang to start followed by maddeningly inept football and then a flurry of competence to close it out. The bipolar Raiders.
Let’s hit those Quick Slants:
The Power I formation … wait, what? Watching Oakland’s offensive line clearing the way and Jamize Olawale in front of Lynch was a thing of beauty. And when Beast Mode tore through for a 51-yard score untouched, all I could think was “better late than never”. The formation should remain a staple in Oakland’s offense going forward.
Cordarrelle Patterson told the Raiders offense to jump on his back when it counted most. Patterson took a bubble screen in the fourth quarter and almost housed it before getting tripped up on a 59-yard gain. Patterson’s speed is absolutely lethal and watching Oakland harness that speed is something to behold.
Holton’s hands and body control were fantastic. His leap and toe-tap on the sideline helped set up DeAndre Washington’s nine-yard touchdown run. The play by the core special teamer was one Carr talked up in practices. Good to see it translate to game day.
The Spruce Bruce is back. Bruce Irvin has been rejuvenated under John Pagano as he had a strip-sack on former college teammate and Giants starting quarterback Geno Smith. Irvin’s total output in the two games under Pagano: 11 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles.
Mack is also on the attack. Not to be outdone is stalwart defensive end Khalil Mack who had an imposing strip-sack himself. Like his pass-rushing counterpart Irvin, Mack produced 6 tackles, 2 sacks and a forced fumble under Pagano’s watch.
Denico Autry: Interior pass rush expert. Irvin and Mack have fed off the edge while Autry is eating in the middle. The undrafted free agent racked up six tackles and three sacks in the same two-game span.
When a dumpoff becomes much more. Lynch juked, side-stepped and powered his way to 21 crucial years on a checkdown pass on 3rd-and-7. The pep in Beast’s step was a window back in time, to Lynch’s Buffalo and Seattle days.
Next man up as punt returner? Sunday was a forgettable day for Jalen Richard. It seems every ball he fielded was covered in butter as a trio of fumbles encapsulated his day. Perhaps it’s time to give Patterson or even Holton a shot as return man.
He’s still got the heart, no longer the legs. The desire is clearly there for veteran safety Reggie Nelson. But it’s the speed department where he is lacking. No longer as “rangy” as he once was, Oakland would be wise giving snaps to a younger player.
Yes, Clive is indeed alive. The seldom-used tight end put in some good work with starter Jared Cook hobbling after a low hit. He showed above-average speed on his routes and the requisite hands to provide a reliable target for Carr. Does this merit more playing time? Who knows.
Carr and the Raiders got lucky on a few plays. From would-be interceptions to fumbles that weren’t recovered, Oakland would be wise not to press their luck heading into a brutal but critical four-game stretch to close out the year. Good teams win in December.