Winners and Losers of Oakland Raiders' Week 2 Performance

Maurice MotonFeatured ColumnistSeptember 18, 2017

Winners and Losers of Oakland Raiders' Week 2 Performance

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    More than 50,000 Oakland Raiders fans enjoyed an electric atmosphere as the Silver and Black routed the New York Jets 45-20 on Sunday. 

    With the game in hand, running back Marshawn Lynch rocked out to the music in the stadium. The crowd erupted, and we all saw what he brings to the franchise. The 31-year-old ball-carrier took care of business on the field, stepped aside and absorbed the energy at the Oakland Coliseum while his teammates flexed their muscles in action. 

    The Raiders didn't put together a perfect victory, but they have a lot to celebrate before preparing for the Washington Redskins in Week 3. 

    Before listing individual winners and losers from the Raiders' Week 2 contest, we'll start with two honorable mentions on each side of the ball.

    Quarterback Derek Carr tossed three touchdown passes and accumulated 230 yards. For him, it's another day at the office against a below-average football team.

    For his career, he's thrown nine touchdown passes and zero interceptions in three games against the Jets. Sunday's performance goes down as the usual for the 26-year-old signal-caller.

    The coaching staff unleashed Karl Joseph and reaped the benefits. He forced Jets quarterback Josh McCown to step up into the pocket for a sack. Then, he strip-sacked the passer and recovered a fumble early in the fourth quarter. The safety blitz adds another dimension to an opportunistic defense.

    Now, we'll delve into eight individual performances that stood out in Week 3. Who earned some recognition? Which players raised eyebrows with a little concern?

Winner: WR, Michael Crabtree

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    As mentioned, Carr threw three touchdown passes, and wideout Michael Crabtree came down with each one.

    The ninth-year veteran doesn't receive the respect given to top wide receivers in the league partially due to his numbers with the San Francisco 49ers. He only logged a single 1,000-yard season with his former squad.

    Crabtree didn't play with aggressive quarterbacks who pushed the ball downfield as much as the Raiders offense with Carr under center. Now, with a wide-open offensive game plan, the two-time Pro Bowler sees an uptick in his opportunities. In each of the two previous seasons, he's been targeted more times than any year in San Francisco. 

    Wideout Amari Cooper flashes brilliance with his catches, but Crabtree has shown he has the roster's most reliable hands in the end zone. The veteran wideout caught his 20th touchdown pass as a Raider on Sunday.

Loser: CB, David Amerson

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    David Amerson didn't put his best play on film against the Jets. McCown threw two touchdown passes to wideout Jermaine Kearse with the fifth-year cornerback in coverage. 

    On the first touchdown pass, Kearse slipped behind Amerson with a nudge for separation to answer the Raiders' early 14-point lead. Late in the fourth quarter, the former Seattle Seahawk caught a contested pass in the end zone. McCown placed the ball in the perfect spot for the reception. 

    Nonetheless, it's telling that McCown chose to go after Amerson rather than rookie Gareon Conley, who played his first game on Sunday. 

    At the moment, the coaching staff doesn't need to consider major changes in the secondary unless injuries become a factor.

    However, the defense can't afford to see Amerson struggle on the perimeter. The 25-year-old cornerback allowed four receptions for 62 yards and two touchdowns, per Pro Football Focus.

Winner: WR, Cordarrelle Patterson

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    Offensive coordinator Todd Downing embraced creativity and player versatility in this week's game plan. Wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson handled direct snaps from Carr in the backfield.

    Unlike former offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's predictable wide receiver end-around plays, Downing refreshed the scheme to utilize Patterson's speed, vision and potential to elude defenders in open space. 

    The 26-year-old wideout broke through for a 43-yard touchdown run thanks to interior offensive linemen Kelechi Osemele, Rodney Hudson and Gabe Jackson moving bodies up front. Patterson listed second on the team in rushing yards with 57 in total. The Raiders may have another effective ball-carrier to feed in the backfield. 

    Lynch handled 12 carries while three ball-carriers split 15 totes. The Raiders have enough talent to keep Beast Mode between 12-15 rush attempts per game in an effort to preserve him for a tough schedule after the bye week.

Loser: QB EJ Manuel

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    Quarterback EJ Manuel didn't play on Sunday, but he should have taken the field in the fourth quarter. After watching Carr break his leg in December, a 42-13 lead late in the game would have been an ideal time to see the backup signal-caller in the huddle.

    A reporter asked head coach Jack Del Rio about the decision to allow Carr to finish the game, and he didn't want to risk a 29-point cushion with the Jets.

    "We talked a little about, is it time yet? And thought, it wasn't. Maybe if there's wasn't one more score up there, maybe [would've] happened. You see crazy comebacks nowadays. People come back from what use to be insurmountable leads. What you see in football nowadays, the comeback stories, there have been enough of them. I think we've seen enough of them to know you got to keep your foot on the pedal."

    This time, no one left the field with a significant injury, but if Carr pulled up with a gimpy hamstring or took an unnecessary hit, the media and fans would have sent Del Rio to the interrogation room for stern questioning.

    If Del Rio can't trust his backup signal-caller to close a 29-point fourth-quarter lead against one of the worst teams in the league, it says a lot about the depth at the position.

Winner: RB, Jalen Richard

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    Running back Jalen Richard logged a career-high in yards from scrimmage with 109 in total against the Jets.

    The elusive runner evaded defenders as a ball-carrier and receiver out of the backfield. His ability to rip off huge gains in the open space adds another explosive component to the offense, which caters to putting the ball in a playmaker's hands and trusting him to maneuver the field.

    After a quiet start to the season, Richard again looks like an undrafted diamond in the rough. He's another reason why Lynch doesn't have to take 20 or more carries per game. The second-year ball-carrier knows how to hit lanes quickly, keep his legs in motion and cut back to gain separation. 

    Don't expect to see Richard hit a sophomore slump after a productive rookie year. Behind the Raiders offensive line, he'll continuously burn opposing defenses with above-average agility.

Loser: ILB, Marquel Lee

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    The Raiders drafted fifth-rounder Marquel Lee as part of the solution to fill the void at inside linebacker. Even though he's a rookie with much room to grow, you don't want to see his snap count drop.

    According to Pro Football Focus, Lee played 21 snaps in Week 1 against the Tennessee Titans and just 10 against the Jets on Sunday. During his time on the field, he recorded one tackle and drew a flag for taunting after a takedown.

    The 21-year-old will learn from his early mistakes, but it's fair to wonder how much the coaching staff believes in his ability early in the developmental process. Due to Nicholas Morrow's ability to cover, he took 23 snaps in total on Sunday. 

    Overall, Lee listed as the least utilized inside linebacker against the Jets. It's not a trend until we see consecutive games limit his role, but it's something to keep an eye on as Morrow's role increases.

Winner: CB, Gareon Conley

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    When discussing rookies trending in the right direction, Conley's debut provides hope for long-term improvement in the Raiders secondary.

    McCown targeted Conley early in the game, and the Ohio State product swatted the pass almost tipping the ball into safety Reggie Nelson's hands. The first-rounder only saw action in coverage twice, and he allowed one reception for eight yards, per Pro Football Focus.

    The Jets' signal-caller made the decision to seek out Amerson in coverage as opposed to the rookie with high potential. The Raiders didn’t slowly add Conley to the mix. He played 44 snaps and lined up on the perimeter with T.J. Carrie on the inside for 26 snaps. 

    Cornerback Sean Smith didn't play due to a neck injury, which raises the question about his spot once he returns to the field. The 30-year-old put together a solid performance in Week 1, but the rookie's play may put the veteran on a short leash or encourage a further split in perimeter coverage duties with Carrie still in the mix.

Winner: DE/DT, Mario Edwards Jr.

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    Many Raiders fans fondly remember defensive lineman Mario Edwards Jr.'s rookie season when the front line provided a decent push toward the pocket and limited ball-carriers after initial contact.

    Thus far, Edwards has already matched his sack total from his rookie campaign. McCown squirmed his way out of the pocket for a 22-yard run, but the Raiders didn't surrender any rushing touchdowns or allow several substantial explosive plays up the middle. 

    The run defense didn't perform at its best, but it's improved from the previous season in which Edwards missed 14 games with a hip injury. Now healthy, he's performing at a level closer to his rookie year.

    His full impact doesn't show up in the box score, but he's a key component to a formidable defensive line.

    The Raiders missed Edwards' ability to shed blocks and latch on to ball-carriers in the muddled trenches. With him on the field, it's a matter of time before Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin reap the benefits rushing the passer on his side of the defensive line.

                    

    Advanced statistics provided by Pro Football Focus unless otherwise noted.