Biggest Takeaways from Oakland Raiders' Week 3 Win
The contest started off one-sided in favor of the Raiders, but the defense allowed the Browns to climb out of a 17-point deficit in the second half.
Both of Oakland's coordinators made changes on their side of the ball to earn the victory. Those changes brought a lot of hope and a little bit of controversy.
At the conclusion of a win that broke an 11-game road losing streak, most Raiders fans couldn’t care less about the how and why. After all, the mantra is “Just win, baby.”
The Raiders won the game.
Now, we’ll go under the hood and examine the nuts and bolts of Oakland’s Week 3 victory.
Woodson’s Immeasurable Willpower
We’ll start with how the game ended—on an interception secured by safety Charles Woodson.
Woodson dislocated his shoulder in garbage time against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 1, which led many to believe that he’d sit out several weeks to heal. The 18-year veteran never ruled himself out and practiced the following week.
The team's physicians strapped his arm with a harness, and he continued to play. Yes, he missed tackles and probably should play less snaps to help preserve his conditioning, but the Raiders need him in critical moments.
Woodson’s timely interception stopped the bleeding in the Raiders secondary that could have ended in a game-tying score from the Browns.
The injury has hindered his ability to wrap up tackles, but he’s still capable of providing decent coverage.
You cannot measure a person's heart by what he or she says—Woodson continues to put his heart on display at much less than 100 percent health.
T.J. Carrie at Safety
Defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. threw in a curveball to contain Browns wide receiver Travis Benjamin.
T.J. Carrie provided blanket coverage as a strong safety against the Browns. Woodson gave props to Carrie for playing at an unfamiliar position and excelling, per San Francisco Chronicle writer Vic Tafur.
It’s unclear whether Carrie’s move to strong safety will stick going forward or becomes a matter of circumstance depending on the opposition.
Realistically, most teams have a deep-threat receiver or offensive player capable of stretching the field. Norton found success in this particular move, which creates a plausible solution at safety until Nate Allen returns to the lineup.
Khalil Mack's Breakthrough
Khalil Mack finally broke out as the pass-rushing beast that analysts and fans expected him to become as an edge-rusher. Norton also experimented with Mack’s positioning on the field.
Initially, he played as a pure defensive end with his hand in the dirt. In Week 3, Mack charged the offensive line as a hybrid linebacker, starting a few steps behind the line of scrimmage.
In the fourth quarter, Mack came off the edge as an isolated pass-rusher and matched up against fullback Malcolm Johnson, who didn’t stand a chance in blocking the hybrid linebacker. Mack side-stepped Johnson and mauled quarterback Josh McCown for his second sack of the day.
Mack’s movement across the formation and various lineup spots may continue to shuffle considering the results on Sunday. He recorded two sacks and forced a fumble with a little added creativity from Norton’s defensive schemes.
Latavius Murray Showing Potential as Workhorse Running Back
Two quiet weeks from the rushing attack raised questions pertaining to Latavius Murray’s ability to run the football 25-plus times with efficiency.
Murray carried the ball 26 times for 109 yards in the first two weeks of the season. In Week 3, he matched the number of carries in the first two weeks combined and gained 139 rushing yards on the ground.
Marcel Reece and Taiwan Jones accounted for the remaining three carries for 17 yards combined.
Murray stands as the clear-cut tailback who will likely account for more than 75 percent of the carries going forward. In Week 3, he showed the ability to take on a heavy workload and perform at a high level, averaging 5.3 yards per carry.
Expect another heavy dose of Murray against the Bears' porous run defense in Week 4.
Right Side of Offensive Line Holding Up
In the offseason, questions surrounded the talent on the right side of the offensive line. Right tackle Menelik Watson’s season-ending Achilles injury amplified those questions with Austin Howard stepping in to seal the edge.
Quarterback Derek Carr and Murray garner a lot of praise for their stellar performances, but no one mentions how well the offensive line has blocked over the last two weeks.
Carr has been sacked once in three weeks. Murray continues to find sizable lanes to exploit after the handoff. The offensive line makes both the quarterback and running back’s job a lot easier.
The better line protections aren’t heard of, which means less penalties and less sacks allowed on the quarterback.
At times, the Raiders offensive line drew false start or holding penalties but nothing substantial that disrupted the flow of the offense. Offensive line coach Mike Tice continues to do a great job with helping his unit win battles in the trenches mentally and physically.
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Week 3 statistics and play-by-play analysis provided by NFL.com.