Raider Nation couldn’t have asked for a better way for their beloved team to kick off the new season. Every facet of the squad looked excellent Monday, and while it was only one game, there’s a lot for everyone to be excited about.
First and foremost…
The old Derek Carr may be back
Carr looked like his 2016 self Monday night, throwing for 259 yards, a touchdown, and an 84% completion percentage (22/26). He threw a beautiful deep ball to Tyrell Williams in the second quarter and even scrambled for a few yards later in the quarter. Both of those plays were nice to see since Carr’s biggest criticisms these last two years have been about this hesitations to throw the ball deep and run.
Carr looked like a man on a mission from the get-go, and I think it had a lot to do with a certain somebody leaving the team two days before the game. Derek spread the ball around, completing six passes to Tyrell Williams, seven to Darren Waller, and a couple to Ryan Grant, and Hunter Renfrow. If Carr repeats this performance throughout the season, the Raiders will go far this year.
The hype around Darren Waller and Josh Jacobs is real
Throughout the offseason, expectations grew for these two as we envisioned them in Gruden’s offense. They both showed out last night, with Waller tallying 70 yards on seven catches, and Jacobs picking up 113 total yards (85 rushing) and two touchdowns. Jacobs joined LaDainian Tomlinson as the only other running back in NFL history with 100 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns in their debuts.
The Raiders’ were criticized last offseason for not replacing Jared Cook, but Waller helped shut up some critics last night. He’s easily one of the best athletes at the tight end position in the league, and his combination of speed and size is a matchup nightmare for defensive coordinators around the league, as he proved last night.
Tyrell Williams is ready for the WR1 role
With AB’s departure, Williams became the lead receiver on this team, a role he’s never had before at the NFL level. With him leading the receiving corps, and facing one of the better corners in the league, Williams surprised us by taking over the game. Tyrell caught six of his seven targets for 105 yards and a touchdown, including a 43-yard bomb from Carr. Williams looked up to the challenge, and his performance adds a lot of excitement to our receiving core this season.
Both Kolton Miller and defensive line showed signs of improvement
Before his knee injury early last season, Miller was very impressive, and with an offseason to heal, it looked like Miller was back to that form on Monday. The Raiders’ line was among the worst in the league last season, and Miller and Brown had a very tough test Monday, having to block Bradley Chubb and Von Miller. They passed with flying colors. Carr stayed upright the whole game, only having to scramble a handful of times, and he didn’t take a sack. That’s a ton of improvement from last year, against one of the best pass-rushes in the league.
The Raiders’ pass rush looked completely different than last years. The unit came up with three sacks last night, Benson Mayowa had two, and Clelin Ferrell recorded his first career sack. The defense got consistent pressure on Flacco all night, and it did wonders for the secondary.
There were a lot of things to be happy about from last night’s game, and Raider Nation should be pleasantly surprised. The Raiders played together, and they played very well. If they can carry that effort throughout the season, they’re gonna surprise a lot of teams this year.