Browns vs. Raiders: 4 Things We Learned from Oaklands Emotional 24-17 Win
It wasn't the sexy, blowout win that I was looking for to make a statement to the rest of the league, but I'll take the 24-17 Oakland victory. If you would have told anyone in Raider Nation that Jason Campbell was going to break his collarbone, no one would have expected the Raiders to win big.
In fact, there would have been some doubt that the Raiders would win with Kyle Boller at quarterback period. But in their first home game of the post-Davis era, the Raiders rebounded from the loss of Campbell to "Just Win, Baby."
In that win, we were still able to learn quite a bit about this Oakland Raiders team.
Turn the page to see what...
Quarterback Question: Is Kyle Boller the Next Plunkett?
The first thing we learned is that there's a question mark at the quarterback position now.
Campbell fractured his right collarbone in the second quarter, and the Raiders offense took a noticeable hit.
Now Raider Nation is left to wonder if former first-round quarterback Kyle Boller is really the next Jim Plunkett. Davis gave that title to Campbell, but Kyle Boller's story is actually more similar to Plunkett's than Campbell's is to this point.
It really is, because Plunkett was the No. 3 quarterback his first year just like Boller was last year. Plunkett then made his way to No. 2 before taking over the No. 1 spot when Dan Pastorini was lost for the season.
Boller, in his first game for the injured Campbell this year, was unspectacular—missing some wide-open throws. But he was much better than he was last year in Jacksonville—throwing the game-losing interception.
Next week, we'll get to see what Boller can do with a full week of preparation.
We'll see how much Plunkett he has in him.
Secondary Shaping Up
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Demarcus Van Dyke got his baptism by fire in the preseason—getting taken up top by guys like Larry Fitzgerald. Then he was injured early in the season and fellow rookie Chimdi Checkwa looked like he was coming on.
With Chekwa out with hamstring issues of late, Van Dyke is looking more like a steal from this year's draft. He's actually looked like a shutdown corner the last couple of weeks while almost grabbing two interceptions.
When Chekwa gets back in with veteran Chris Johnson, who's been out with a hamstring, the Raiders will have depth at corner. Then you have Michael Huff at nickel corner—looking healthier as he's defending passes thrown his way these days.
Then I noticed that Tyvon Branch has stepped his coverage up since Mike Mitchell got back from injury. If he keeps this up, the secondary will be tightened up with excellent coverage on receivers and tight ends.
The Raiders should then start climbing the pass defense rankings.
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I have nothing to say about the defensive line, because we already know that they are a dominant unit. So let me turn our attention to the linebackers, who, with a new member, are playing as well as ever right now.
It's fitting that the next game after I write an article about the Raiders switching to a 3-4 to get more out of 2010 first-round pick Rolando McClain, he shows me something different. McClain had seven tackles, two passes defensed and a hit on the quarterback—but more importantly, he looked instinctive in his search for ball carriers.
Wimbley was his normal self—setting the edge against the run and putting heat on the quarterback. We learned nothing there but we sure did learn that Aaron Curry, acquired in a recent trade with the Seahawks, was a great pickup for the Raiders.
He gave up a catch that wasn't a big deal, but he really set the edge against the run. If this is how he plays in his first game, we can only imagine what we're going to see from Curry as the season goes on.
The Browns had 65 yards rushing today while their tight ends and running backs had 61 yards receiving.
Darrius Heward-Bey Has Arrived
He is 2009 first-round pick Darrius Heyward-Bey!
Heyward-Bey had six catches for 86 yards today with no drops—giving him a total of 300 yards receiving with one touchdown over the last three weeks. That's 100 yards per game, and it put's him on pace to be the Raiders first 1,000-yard receiver since Randy Moss in 2005.
He's actually becoming a route runner!
Wow—I was wrong about Heyward-Bey and Jared Veldheer!
That's twice I get to celebrate being wrong about a player!
As a team, I have to give the Raiders credit for staying in the fight with Campbell going down so early in the game. That's two very ugly wins in a row the Raiders have that could have went the other way.
That's because this team has character and Jackson has this group believing. Speaking of Jackson, he deserves kudos for the calls he made—going for it on fourth down in Raiders territory and faking the field goal for a touchdown.
But he didn't get his own slide because we already knew he was that type of coach. Kudos to Shane Lechler for throwing the pass to Kevin Boss on the fake and punting well as usual.
Kudos to Jacoby Ford as well for his 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
Again—they didn't get their own slides because we already knew this about them.
This team is really shaping up to be something.
Don't panic over Campbell just yet, because Boller may do OK.
And we can't forget about the kid named Terelle Pryor!