Perspective is everything, and while the Oakland Raiders week one loss to the Los Angeles Rams was a deflating one, believe it or not, there are some positive takeaways.
This is the first in a weekly series called the Silver and Black Lining, where we look to find the best of the game, even it was a bad loss. This week, we focus on the silver lining in Oakland’s disappointing loss to the Rams.
The Silver (And Black) Lining: Week One
The Game Half-Full
The story of the game is obviously the Raiders second-half collapse, but that doesn’t mean you can’t appreciate the good stuff. And believe it or not, there was some good stuff. In the first half, the Raiders contained Todd Gurley, Brandin Cooks, and Jared Goff. Offensively, Derek Carr started brilliantly. The team played extremely well for the first thirty minutes of this game, and it looked like the Raiders had a real chance.
The Raiders were running the ball well when they tried, Jared Cook went off, and Carr looked extremely sharp. It’s bittersweet now, because the team just failed to respond to Sean McVay’s coaching adjustments, but there were signs of life early, hopefully signs that we’ll see again before it’s all said and done.
A Decent Attempt at an Excuse
Nobody wants to hear this, but there were always going to be growing pains with Gruden’s Raiders. You can’t install brand new schemes on both sides of the ball and expect any kind of dominance. It wasn’t pretty, and as far as growing pains go, the second half made puberty look easy, but it might not be this way forever.
The Raiders had a ton of roster overhaul, a new offense, a new defense, and oh yeah, they were facing off against a trendy Super Bowl team. The Raiders were never going to be flawless, and while nobody expected the mistakes to be that bad, there’s something to be said for letting a good team get away from them.
Cookin’ With Fire
It’s easy to forget because of how many plays ended up being check-downs to Jalen Richard, but Jared Cook had himself a night. He had nine catches for 180 yards and was just about the only weapon that got vertical all night long. There was talk about how Gruden historically doesn’t like tight ends, and how Amari Cooper was going to be the focal point, but ultimately, it was the tight end who had a career night.
Was it a fluke? Maybe. But maybe not. At some point, Gruden is going to take this offense vertical, and if tonight was any indication? Cook will once again be a huge target for Carr.
Much was made about reigning defensive player of the year, Aaron Donald. He got paid last week, becoming, briefly, the highest paid non-quarterback in NFL history. It was going to be a big task for Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson, and Gabe Jackson to stop both him and Ndamukong Suh from getting to Carr. And you know what? They did just that.
Suh and Donald had a combined three tackles, and zero sacks. Carr might’ve collapsed in the second half, but it was not because of Los Angeles’ star pass rushers. On top of that, with the exception of some hideous holding penalties, Donald Penn and Kolton Miller both did their jobs. What if the Raiders had committed to the run and really given Marshawn Lynch a chance? They might’ve had more success as an overall unit.
It’s. Just. Week. One.
It was an ugly game. It was a hideous game. Raider Nation wants to hit the self-destruct button, they want Gruden gone, they want Carr gone, and they’d want Amari Cooper gone if he would ever show up! But it’s just week one. There are growing pains to work out, and we’ve got 15 more of these, almost all against teams that aren’t as good as the Los Angeles Rams.
The Kansas City Chiefs blew out the New England Patriots to start last season. Earlier this week, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers took the New Orleans Saints to the woodshed. Hell, this time last year, the Oakland Raiders blew out the New York Jets and seemed to be Super Bowl bound.
It’s a long season, and it’s just getting started. There will be growing pains, but keep watching, you never know, it just might get better. Be sure to check in next week, when hopefully we don’t have to squint so hard to find silver linings.