Sundays win against the Broncos was anything but spectacular, but then again not many season openers will be for most teams hitting the field for their first full game of the year. On the contrary, there were a few teams that were handed crushing losses, so it could have had worse outcomes I suppose. Below is a list of quick assessments I noticed in this game while in attendance behind enemy lines.
FAST START – SLOW FINISH
Our week 1 match up started off with an aggressive onside kick in typical Sean Payton fashion, giving us short field to work with in our initial possession. The Raiders did take that recovery for a methodical 10 play 5:32 drive resulting in a touchdown, after an early injury scare when Jimmy G had to be evaluated for a head injury, leading Bryan Hoyer to assume his confirmed QB2 duties. We followed that up with another 10 play drive the ended in a 24 yard field goal after being held out of the end zone. After that it was a slug fest with neither team carrying much of an advantage. That was until we were able to cap off a quick drive midway thorough the 4th quarter on a 2nd Jacoby Meyers touchdown (more to come). Ultimately it was refreshing to see Jimmy control the offense and have a solid showing, minus the one INT in the end zone where he forced into double coverage.
WEEK 1 DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS
The defense held their own in this one, though not exactly as pretty as we had anticipated. One standout would be Nate Hobbs who was relegated back to his familiar role in the slot of the secondary where he went on to lead the team in tackles with 12 (8 solo), and 2 going for negative yardage. Safe to say the change proved to be the right call given the early results. Another would be Divine Deablo who also had a high tackle total (9 with 5 solo), adding a TFL and a pass deflection. Not bad for the first game back since his injury cost him most of last season. Others to mention would be Maxx Crosby and Jerry Tillery, both posting the only sacks the team would register for the day. As well as Jakorian Bennett, who had his rookie ups and downs in this game with some penalties, but made a few nice open field tackles that saved bigger plays ending with 7 total on the day.
SPECIAL TEAMS PROVING TO BE THE DIFFERENCE
The most consistent personnel grouping that is our special team unit, had a limited but effective role in this win. Daniel Carlson hitting his 24 yard field goal and 2 PAT’s, adding AJ booming his lone punt of the day for 49 yards net. However, where we made the biggest difference was forcing a missed 55 yard FG try on the opening drive to start the 2nd half, while also lucking out on a missed PAT earlier in the game in Lutz’s first game after reuniting with coach Payton a short 2 weeks ago. These mishaps allowed us to keep the game in front of us and close out the contest by the 1 point differential. Adding in that surprise onside kick recovery, this special teams unit deserves some credit for the game.
WEEK 1 UNDERACHEIVERS
Every game has it’s stars and fades, this one being no different with some questions that definitely presented themselves. Starting with Hunter Renfrow and his lack of involvement with zero targets or catches limiting his effectiveness as anything more than a decoy, something I expect the coaching staff to correct going forward. Josh Jacobs had a healthy 19 carries, however his 2.5 yards per carry were not encouraging, and looked as though the lay off may have played a significant role as many had speculated coming into the game. I’m sure knocking off the rust will allow him to get back to his normal production soon enough. Others to note were Tyree Wilson and Malcolm Koonce who shared responsibilities opposite Maxx Crosby. Tyree had a slow get off the line and only managed a solo tackle, and Koonce went scoreless, albeit with a few plays that won’t show up in the stat sheet. Hoping these two can provide a stronger tandem as the season progresses.
TWO SIDES TO A COIN
Winning is always a great feeling, but the cost will sometimes dampen the euphoria that comes with it. Of course I am referring to the unfortunate and concerning hit sustained by our Player of the Game Jacoby Meyers late in the 4th quarter that resulted in a penalty and ultimately helped seal the win. More importantly though, was being in the stands and witnessing many fans voice their displeasure with the decision to throw the flag (with chants of boo’s), rather than showing compassion for an injured player. It’s moments like these where we as fans have to remind ourselves that the men who play this game for our entertainment are also human beings, and should not be valued solely for their contributions or dollar amounts associated to their names. This is a dangerous game and hits like these can have a long term effect on and off the field. Prayers for Jacoby that he will make a swift recovery and be back at full health sooner rather than later.
FINAL THOUGHTS ON THIS PERFORMANCE
All in all, a win is a win and we will surely take it on the road, marking our 7th straight against this divisional opponent. Ironically both the Raiders and Broncos had identical team statistics across the board with 22 first downs (11 passing, 5 rushing and 6 coming by way of penalties), 5-11 third down efficiency, 10 penalties apiece and similar time of possession. Obviously every week there are things the team must correct, but we will need a vast turnaround if we want to prevent an embarrassing loss next week on the road in Buffalo when we face the Bills. One thing already working in our favor though, is that the Bills will have a short week as they played the Monday night game in their season opener. Looking forward to seeing what adjustments the team makes this week to hopefully put together a stronger performance in another AFC showdown.