In Focus: Raiders/Titans Wrap-Up

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Raiders RB Marshawn Lynch
Sep 10, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Oakland Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch (24) runs for a short gain during the first half against the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

With the Raiders 26-16 victory over the Tennessee Titans, joy cascaded over RaiderNation. Immediately, people see the score as an affirmation of the preseason hopes. Yet, half of the teams win their first game. Plus, the Raiders did not play a perfect game. While a win is a win, there remain issues to work out. Looking back, this game highlighted the highs and lows.

Downing Daring

When Todd Downing succeeded Bill Musgrave, many wondered what changes he’d implement. Downing exhibits more of a freewheeling aggressive style. For example, throwing three straight passes inside the ten shows faith in Carr. On the other hands, those plays could cost the team, if Downing isn’t careful. Be that as it may, a stellar start for the new coordinator.

Super Cooper

Raiders WR Amari Cooper
Sep 10, 2017; Nashville, TN, USA; Oakland Raiders receiver Amari Cooper (89) breaks a tackle attempt by Tennessee Titans cornerback Adoree’ Jackson (25) to score during the first half at Nissan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Although Amari Cooper’s numbers do not jump off the page, the number of targets should. Thirteen targets suggest that Cooper is the lead receiver.  However, a couple of catches fell incomplete due to a combination of sound defense and Cooper dropping passes. With that said, Cooper highlighted his day with a touchdown catch, dragging defenders. In the offseason, people asked why Cooper added weight. Plays like this illustrate the needed for weight room time.

Pass Rush Issues

Granted, Tennessee boasts a top-tier offensive line. Still, the Raiders could not generate a health pass rush. Honestly, Tennessee left tackle Taylor Lewan handled Bruce Irvin with authority. Single blocked, Lewan stonewalled Irvin on multiple rushes. One sack in forty-one pass attempts should worry everyone. Plus, on blitzes, Oakland failed to generate much pressure upfront. If not for rookie defensive tackle Eddie Vanderdoes, the Raiders could’ve failed to notch one sack.

In the offseason, people speculated about the efficacy of Marshawn Lynch. How much does he have left? Well, if given less than twenty carries, averaging four yards per carry should satisfy doubters. Lynch displayed strength and burst. His addition to the Raiders’ running game gives the team attitude. Under those circumstances, short yardage becomes less of a problem. For instance, breaking a tackle to convert fourth and one signaled Lynch’s official arrival.

While the Raiders won yesterday, needed improvements become obvious. For the pass rush, multiple players must step up. Khalil Mack draws double teams regularly, leaving chances for others. With multiple picks invested in defensive linemen, a sense of urgency needs to set in.

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