Biggest Takeaways from Oakland Raiders' Week 12 Win
This resilient Oakland Raiders team doesn’t resemble the same three- to four-win clubs over the past three seasons.
The Silver and Black earned their second comeback victory on the road in inclement weather. A defensive holding penalty on Tennessee Titans cornerback B.W. Webb extended the Raiders' final offensive drive, and quarterback Derek Carr seized the scoring opportunity.
Some will point to luck or a phantom penalty, but the Titans didn’t hand over the points.
Carr and wideout Seth Roberts made the best out of a second chance in a high-pressure scenario. To the Raiders' credit, their young core didn’t crumble with legitimate playoff hopes on the line.
Oakland also made some strides and telling roster moves for desirable results. What stood out most from the Raiders’ Week 12 victory? What should we expect going forward?
D.J. Hayden Losing Traction on Starting Position
For Raider Nation, D.J. Hayden’s transition to a reserve cornerback seems long overdue. However, it’s clear the Raiders coaching staff would give the former first-round pick every opportunity to progress as a starter.
At some point during the week, the coaching staff decided to head in a different direction, sending Hayden to the sidelines on Sunday, per CSNBayArea.com's Scott Bair. Cornerback David Amerson neutralized one side of the field in coverage on the perimeter.
After Jeremy Ross fumbled on a Raiders kickoff return, Amerson's interception in Oakland territory thwarted Tennessee's momentum shift. His success could expedite Hayden’s demise as a No. 2 cornerback.
The Raiders will likely stick with Amerson in the starting lineup as long as he plays well, pushing Hayden into nickel and dime packages.
Ken Norton Progressing with Adjustments
As a first-time defensive coordinator, Ken Norton Jr.'s defensive adjustments were nonexistent or inadequate to start the season.
On Sunday, he made a subtle but effective tweak to slow down Titans tight end Delanie Walker. Marcus Mariota targeted the tight end early and often, connecting with Walker on four passes for 56 yards.
Taylor Mays took the field in coverage as an undersized linebacker playing the middle of the field. The sixth-year safety made plays from sideline to sideline and quelled the tight end issue. Walker only caught two passes for 35 yards in the second half after a fast start.
The Raiders hope to reintegrate linebacker Neiron Ball into the lineup once he recovers from a knee injury. His return to the field gives Norton more latitude for creativity in intermediate coverage and substitutions.
We'll have a better assessment on Norton as a defensive coordinator with a relatively healthy defense to close the season.
Seth Roberts More Dynamic Than Expected
Inquiries about wide receiver Rod Streater's return to the active roster reached a high pitch during a two-week catchless stretch for Seth Roberts between Weeks 4 and 5.
Many felt Roberts’ ascension to three-wide receiver sets came prematurely as a young player with inconsistencies. His Week 2 game-winning touchdown catch faded as a distant memory.
On Sunday, Roberts cashed in on the coaching staff’s unwavering faith in his ability as a complete wideout.
He’s not limited to blocking assignments downfield. He’s also capable of making big catches in critical situations.
Roberts sealed another Raiders comeback with a late fourth-quarter touchdown catch in the end zone. He also gashed the Titans’ No. 3 pass defense for 113 receiving yards and two touchdowns.
It’s safe to say, Streater won’t supplant Roberts as the slot receiver anytime soon.
Coaching Staff Shows Little Trust in Jamize Olawale
According to ESPN's Bill Williamson, the Raiders coaching staff likes fullback Jamize Olawale’s run style as a replica of Marcel Reece, but it's not ready to allot more carries to the downhill rusher.
Olawale stands as the most capable No. 2 running back on the depth chart, but the coaching staff continues to keep him at five carries or fewer per game. He handled six carries for 13 yards against the Denver Broncos in Week 5 but returned to a minimal role thereafter.
The Raiders need a grinder or a closer to control the clock while preserving starter Latavius Murray.
At this point, Olawale seems like the best candidate to hammer defenses late, but the coaching staff kept the training wheels on his legs. He recorded two carries for 17 yards as the second-most productive ball-carrier in the backfield.
Khalil Mack Chasing Double-Digit Sack Total
Edge-rusher Khalil Mack didn’t record a sack until Week 3. Early-season projections on a double-digit sack total for the season seemed like a pipe dream. Mack generated pocket pressure, but he couldn't reach the quarterback with consistency.
Nine weeks later, he’s accumulated seven sacks. It’s not an exponential stride, but he’s coming off a multiple-sack performance without Aldon Smith on the field. Mack garners double-teams on most occasions, but he’s still wreaking havoc in the backfield.
Mack won't lead the league in sacks, but he’s improving his technique and finding ways to beat extra pocket protection.
Despite playing in a different role, he's still on track to reach a double-digit sack total in his second year.
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Oakland Raiders Week 12 play-by-play and statistics courtesy of NFL.com.