If last week’s win versus the Miami Dolphins tonight us anything, it was the Raiders have many holes to fix during the bye week. Derek Carr threw for 300 yards for the third straight game and Marshawn Lynch returned from his one game hiatus with a two touchdown performance. Bruce Irvin forced his first fumble of the year and second round pick Obi Melifonwu made his debut.
Unfortunately, Oakland committed 10 penalties, made Jay Cutler look like Drew Brees and had some ugly plays (Marshall’s fumble).
Therefore, the Raiders will take a few days to rest this week but also get ready for the second half of the season at the same time. Here are two items Jack Del Rio can focus on and relay to his team to have them ready for November and December football.
- Minimize the mistakes on offense
With three division leaders and a wildcard team left on the schedule (with great offenses), the Raiders offense will need to operate to its full potential. Carr, along with the skill positions players and the talented offensive line, need to deliver strong performances to stay with the Patriots and Eagles of the world. That starts with not turning over the ball. In Oakland’s five losses this season, they have committed 11 out of their 13 turnovers total. Not to mention, out of the four games Carr’s started and lost this season, he’s thrown at least two INT’s in three of them. That can’t happen, especially if the defense continues their struggles from the first half. Execution and focus is necessary for the next seven games. Because of their talent and leadership, they can do it.
- Generate Turnovers
To take some of the stress and pressure off the offense, Ken Norton’s secondary will need to do something they haven’t done since week 17 of last season, get some interceptions! The secondary, led by Karl Joseph, Reggie Nelson and TJ Carrie, will need to take it upon themselves to finally get an interception. Currently at nine games, this is the longest streak to start a season without and INT in NFL history. In terms of touchdowns, the Raiders defense will play against five of the top 10 passing quarterbacks. Which means, the defense will need to start causing some turnovers to slow down these passing attack. I know Norton Jr is limited on the schemes he can run but he will need to do his homework and draw up some creative plays to utilize their strengths. After this bye week, not much time is available to make adjustments on the fly.
These are two areas Oakland was strong in last season. In fact, in 2016, the defense had 16 interceptions (two back from NFL leader) and ranked fourth in giveaways.
For a lack of better words, the offense needs to take care of the ball and execute better. Defensively, create havoc and get more possessions to the offense. If the Raiders can work on those two things during the bye week, they have a fighting chance at the playoffs this season.