Biggest Takeaways from Oakland Raiders' Week 8 Win
In consecutive weeks, the Oakland Raiders jumped out to an early lead and maintained control throughout, leaving no room for doubt in their dominance. When viewed on film, neither game presents a flawless victory, but it’s clear Oakland took the field with the better group of football players.
On Sunday, the fans in the Black Hole celebrated a victory and an above .500 football team at the midpoint of the season—an uncommon occurrence over the past decade.
Head coach Jack Del Rio and his coaching staff have put together their own recipe for success with minor alterations to the game plan fitted for opponents each week. What can we takeaway from Sunday’s win?
Raiders Offense: Fearless
The first play of the game sent an intended message to the Jets defense.
“We’re not scared of you.”
It’s plausible that the Raiders would go after Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis on the first play. The Raiders routinely throw to rookie wideout Amari Cooper to start an offensive drive and that didn’t change with a six-time Pro Bowler defending the 21-year-old wide receiver.
The pass fell incomplete, but it didn’t matter. The Jets understood the message, and the Raiders carried out an offensive onslaught on a respected defense.
Running back Latavius Murray didn’t make any timid steps when attacking the league’s best run defense. Wideout Michael Crabtree refused to go down on first contact, bullying his way into the end zone for the Raiders’ second touchdown.
This particular game fits Del Rio’s mantra uttered to reporters in a press conference, per Raiders.com, after a victory over the Cleveland Browns in Week 3. “We respect everybody, but we fear nobody."
Embracing Andre Holmes, Flaws and All
Wide receiver Andre Holmes will make you cheer, and he’ll make you scowl in disappointment. The Raiders coaching staff seems okay with his inconsistencies.
Holmes went missing in action, failing to record a catch for three consecutive weeks before scoring two touchdowns against the Jets secondary. He provided a target for quarterback Derek Carr in the red zone and beat Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie over the top for a second touchdown grab.
The fifth-year wideout also dropped a third down pass later in the game as the Raiders tried to sustain an offensive drive.
On Sunday, the good certainly outweighed the bad. There’s a reason Holmes remains on the active roster despite his spotty contributions week-to-week. When he’s productive, the wideout provides an advantageous matchup for Carr in the red zone and on deep throws.
Taiwan Jones: A Bigger Deal Than You Think
Running back Taiwan Jones recorded two carries for five yards, one catch for a 59-yard score and four kickoff returns for 101 yards against the Jets. On the touchdown, he produced a highlight-reel play with some jukes and quick feet.
Most importantly, he’s the jack-of-all-trades on Oakland's roster. He has experience playing within all three phases of the game.
Jones can take a few carries as a running back and use his speed to break runs outside to prevent linebackers from teeing off on the quarterback. He’s made a solid claim on special teams as a kick returner. Finally, he can play as an emergency cornerback with two years of experience lining up against wide receivers.
Most players say they’ll do whatever it takes to help their team win, and Jones has a proven track record of doing so. He’s a player to watch as offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave continues to add wrinkles to the game plan.
Raiders Defense Establishing an Identity
Recent championship-caliber defenses established an identity. In the midst of the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl run in 2013, their secondary—known as the Legion of Boom—took pride in shutting down passing attacks with menacing pass coverage.
The 2000 Baltimore Ravens presented themselves as a gritty, throwback defense that roughhoused its way to a Super Bowl victory.
The Raiders have begun to show increased physicality in their play, from the defensive front to the defensive backs. Both Jets quarterbacks left the Black Hole battered and bruised, per NFL.com’s Jeremy Bergman.
The defensive line drilled Jets backup quarterback Geno Smith in the pocket. Cornerback David Amerson nearly took the signal-caller out of his cleats on a scramble toward the sideline.
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. came from a physical culture in Seattle as the linebackers coach. Now, he’s instilling some of that attitude with a young defense looking to make a statement as a tough unit.
Based on production, the Raiders front seven has already established themselves as one of the best run defenses in the league.
Darrelle Revis Respects Amari Cooper's Game
The Revis versus Cooper matchup took precedent over the game itself in some ways. Spectators wanted to see what a rookie wideout can accomplish against a grizzled veteran at the top of his game.
Neither player made a huge impact on the outcome, which shows the required teamwork to become successful in the NFL.
Many will argue who got the best of whom between Revis and Cooper, but the one-on-one battle became irrelevant as the Raiders pulled away using so many other weapons to expose the Jets defense.
Revis gave his thoughts on Cooper, per CSNBayArea.com reporter Scott Bair via Twitter.
“The sky is the limit for him. A special player, he is,” said Revis in reference to Cooper.
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Week 8 play-by-play provided by: NFL.com.