Saturday night was another breath of fresh air for Raiders fans, as the Raiders won convincingly in Chicago 32-17.
Most impressive was the fact that the Raider defense did an exceptional job holding down Chicago's first team offense even without the services of Chris Johnson, Nnamdi Asomugha, Richard Seymour and Big John Henderson.
A couple things to note: Stanford Routt looked remarkably competent in pass coverage, and it took all of one preseason game for rookie Lamar Houston to command a double team from the opposing offense.
This spells success for the emerging Oakland defense. When Richard Seymour returns, it will be virtually impossible to double team both men, and the result should be complete havoc in the opposition's backfield. The Raiders haven't had that kind of push up front in years.
In game one against Dallas, we showcased the ability to create pressure with four down lineman. In game two it was newly acquired Kamerion Wimbley who created the pressure from his Sam linebacker position. Wimbley amassed an impressive four sacks in just one half of service with the first team defense.
With the exception of a lapse in gap responsibility that led to one big 89 yard home run by Matt Forte, the run defense looked solid.
How Many Wins will the Raiders get in the AFC West this year?
Rolando McClain continues to learn the ropes as a rookie and has yet to prove to be a significant factor in the defense; but it is still very early. There were only two plays that come to mind where he looked confused or out of position. The aforementioned run by Forte, and the successful two point conversion by Chicago in the first half. Middle linebacker is one of the toughest positions to learn as a rookie, McClain will be just fine.
Offensively, the first team looked much better than in last weeks game. Even without Darren McFadden, Darrius Heyward-Bey, and Chaz Schillens, the first team scorched Chicago for two quick scores and an impressive aerial assault.
With the exception of two poor decisions by Campbell, he looked to be in total control of the offense. Campbell showed great pocket presence and the ability to make plays and buy time with his feet. That could prove to be just what the doctor ordered with our makeshift offensive line.
The offensive line played well. Overall, Mario Henderson, Khalif Barnes, and Jared Veldheer did a nice job against Julius Peppers. The only dreadful moments were two false starts by Robert Gallery and Samson Satele injuring an ankle.
Louis Murphy had a nice night catching the ball, as did Marcel Reece. The group has shown steady improvement and should only get better once all the starters are on the field.
Michael Bush was solid running the ball. He showed great patience and power in his limited action. Michael Bennett continues to make a strong push to make the final roster with another impressive performance.
Offensively, the Raiders are currently ranked seventh in point per game at 24.5, eighth in yards per game at 327.5, 16th in passing at 206.5 yard per game, and eighth in rushing at 121 yards per game. Definitely a nice change of pace for an offense that has almost been non existent for three seasons.
Defensively, the Raiders are currently ranked eighth in points allowed per game at 11, eighth in yards allowed per game at 268.5, third in passing yards allowed per game at 148.5, and 23rd in rushing yards allowed per game at 120.
The momentum is headed in the right direction and Raider Nation is buzzing. You get the feeling that this year just might be something special.
In other news, the Minnesota Vikings are allegedly close to signing Javon Walker...God help them.