Final Oakland Raider Grades @ Baltimore Ravens; Week 4:
Baltimore Ravens 27 (3-1)
Oakland Raiders 28 (3-1)
On Sunday the Raiders came back and beat the Baltimore Ravens 28-27 in an exciting game. The Raiders are now 3-1 heading home for a game with the Chargers.
I’ve been very honest about Reggie McKenzie. Here’s my article on his tenure with the Raiders.
Some bash him when the Raiders lose but in reality SIX of the 7 2016 NFL draft picks played a significant role in the Ravens game, and in the entire year.
Derek Carr saved his best for last. The Ravens have a solid defense and they held the Raiders to only 13 first downs, 3 for 12 on third down, and 0 net yards in the 3rd quarter. Not his best performance; only threw for 199 yards; but a gritty win on the road with clutch throws in the end.
Carr came through in the 4th quarter but he did have his struggles. He had a costly delay of the game penalty and was a little rattled at times early with the pass rush. Those should be fixed and look for a big game next week against the Chargers. Carr looks forward to a juicy match-up against the weak Charger pass defense.
The Raiders RB by committee has worked wonders this year but it just wasn’t their day. Latavius Murray was ineffective and DeAndre Washington had a big fumble. Carr’s passes to him didn’t have much touch on them but Jalen Richard dropped a couple of passes that I’m sure he regrets. Washington had a really nice run of 28 yards but if you take that away, the RB’s had only 18 carries for 34 yards. Sometimes it’s just not your day.
The Ravens made a point of stopping the run and they did loading the box at times. Better days ahead for this group after 3 excellent weeks. RB’s pass blocking was pretty good.
After the first couple of drives Carr again had lots of time to throw. Rarely did the Ravens get to him. Baltimore had a good game plan to shut down the running game but the Raiders OL and RB’s picked up the blitz well. Due to injuries, Vadal Alexander was thrown to the wolves at tackle and the media were on him. He had 3 holding calls and 1 false start but Baltimore was putting Terrell Suggs on his side much of the time. Suggs is not the monster he used to be but he’s still solid. Alexander was tough and at times got no help against Suggs but he helped in the final TD drives protecting Carr.
The Raiders running offense struggled but the passing game and protection excelled. Alexander is a project but he was made to start and he gave a gutsy performance that will be a learning experience.
NOW people know why I was touting Michael Crabtree when he came out for the NFL draft. At Texas Tech and San Francisco he was a huge talent when healthy. He’s the best possession WR in the NFL right now and a top 6 WR. The Carr to Crabtree connection is on top of their game. Crabtree’s route running is fun to watch. Seth Roberts with a nice TD catch was also a plus. Teams continue to keep Amari Cooper from going deep and that is opening up the middle of the field. Still would like more TE throws; the Raiders had injuries at TE which may have helped limit that.
It was quality over quantity. The Raiders offense struggled but when they needed to pass, they did a good job. The stupid call by John Harbaugh to take the penalty allowing a 3rd and long changed the game and allowed the Raiders to take a 2 score lead.
The Ravens averaged only 19 points a game in the first 3 games versus 1-8 teams. As I said, Joe Flacco and the rest of the offense is not that good and the Ravens were very overrated. I had the Raiders winning this game and some that I was a little crazy. Khalil Mack’s annual slow start is hopefully over. He terrorized Joe Flacco all day. Mack has been solid against the run, but not much of a factor in their pass rush. The entire line had good push and Flacco was under pressure much of the time.
Against the run it wasn’t a good story again. The Raiders gave up 130 rushing yards at 5.0 yards a rush with 2 TD’s. Ward and Autry are playing more to get a push on the QB but it’s hurt the run defense. I’m not sold on either playing so much. Williams and Ellis are only playing around 15-20 plays a game. but they are limited in the pass rush.
The Raiders against the pass were great, but another fail against the run. It’s not like the Ravens have Adrian Peterson either. They gave a healthy scratch to their starting RB Justin Forsett but still rushed for 130 yards.
Pretty much you can see the DL. The Ravens like the Titans don’t have much team speed on offense. The Raiders handled them fairly well in the passing game but struggled again in the running game. Cory James was beaten more than the Raiders would like against the run but he was excellent in pursuit and covering the pass. Bruce Irvin also had a nice game with his coverage and his pass rushing. James is definitely an upgrade at LB but the Raiders still don’t have that stud run stopper.
Again, the mantra for the Raiders all year is can they stop the run. The answer so far is not really. That has to change if the Raiders are going to get to the next level.
All week the Baltimore media had brought up Joe Flacco being an elite player (announcer Steve Tasker did too) including Pro Football Focus’ rating of him the first 3 weeks. We must have been watching different players. Flacco has looked horrible at times this year and has the 2nd worst 4th quarter quarterback rating in the NFL. Last week against the Jaguars, his 2 key interceptions almost blew the game. Four TD’s and 4 INT’s is NOT elite. That’s why I said the Raiders should handle them and they did.
The Raiders speed was evident against the slow offense of the Ravens. The game plan was perfect; put David Amerson on Steve Smith and not worry about the others and it worked to perfection. Every DB played well. Karl Joseph is getting more comfortable and he hopefully can help with the run defense.
With the Titans pretty much having no deep threat, the DB’s played aggressive and physical again. Other than a blip here and there and the long pass and run to iconic WR Steve Smith Sr., there were few worries.
Overall a well coached game. Raiders offense didn’t have a great game but enough to win. No yards in the 3rd quarter and another slow start is a worry. I think the Raiders should go more no huddle and put pressure on the offense.
On defense the game plan of putting Amerson on Smith Sr. was a great move that helped limit him. Funny how Ken Norton’s name is never spoken when the Raiders defense plays better. Some casual fans give all the credit to players when they win, and all the blame to coaches when they lose. Crazy.
The Raiders have to start the games better. Another 2 drives with little to nothing to show for it. They also had 0 yards in the third quarter. I wish their offense was more aggressive.
Marquette King is really becoming a force. He helped the Raiders with great field position earlier in the game when the offense was struggling. Richard is a good return man.
Solid day all around.
As I said going into this game, it’s a very winnable game. Joe Flacco is not a great QB and their offense only averaged 19 points a game. The Raiders run defense is still an issue and they did give up 27 points to an average at best offense. That has to change. Offense came through in the 4th quarter and King is a weapon as a punter.
San Diego Chargers:
Philip Rivers had another last second drive fail against the Saints; something he’s done a lot of in the past; and the Chargers dropped to 1-3 losing to the Saints late. Rivers to me is this era’s Steve Deberg. A good QB who gets great stats in the first 3 quarters but doesn’t win anything. Nothing wrong with that but the networks push to make QB’s great is annoying at times. His epic fails late are more than people think.
The Chargers defense is 27th against the pass and 8th against the run. Look for a big game from Carr and the WR’s may have a field day. The Chargers lack talent and on paper this looks like a great match-up for Oakland. Rivers will always have his stats but they greatly miss WR Keenan Allen who is out for the year.
Joey Bosa may make his debut against the Raiders but the Charger fans are ready to blow him off for the year. The late signee has been hurt and hasn’t been ready to play. He has not endeared himself to the fans that’s for sure.
Oakland is winning the close games and that is a big maturing process in a losing franchise learning how to win. There is a lot of excitement but there still is much work to do. The Raiders are playing with fire playing close games. A good team like Atlanta made them pay for it. The Raiders run defense is probably going to be an issue all year. They have a very favorable schedule especially with Kansas City, the Colts and Carolina struggling so much. Seems like all the stars are aligning as long as they beat the teams they should beat.
They can’t take anyone for granted. On paper the Chargers look like a team they can handle, but the Raiders have to start putting teams away and play a good consistent game for 4 quarters. Something they are looking to do against San Diego.
Defensively, the Raiders will be tested by the passing game of the Chargers but they always seem to fall short. The Chargers are 1-3 and the big loss was the opening game loss to Kansas City in OT when they were up big early.
Look for a fun game with the Raiders flexing their muscle on offense again. The Chargers running game has improved but is still only 19th in the NFL. Look for San Diego to try and establish a running game and when it struggles, they will be throwing often from behind. Should be a high scoring affair with the Raiders looking to continue their road to success.