The Oakland Raiders are looking for the right answers after last week's loss to the Houston Texans. The Raiders now need to prepare to move on and correct what was missing. The past two games were winnable games.
Last week they failed to beat the Texans and lost 31-24. The game was really a tale of two halves. In the first half, it looked like a defensive game, as each team scored only 14 points. The second half opened with a bang as running back Arian Foster showed the Raiders' defense what type of back he really is. Foster opened the second half with a 74-yard run that really exploited the Raiders' defense. It seemed at times the Texans were just too much for the Raiders to handle, as the Texans' offense completely had their way, with a total of 441 yards (249 yards from the running game).
The defense of the Raiders really needs to improve fast if they are to compete in the AFC West. Otherwise they maybe headed on the same trail they have been in the last seven years.
The change can begin as they take on San Diego this Sunday. The Raiders need to take into account several things going in this game.
The last time the two teams played, the Chargers defeated Oakland for the 13th straight time. This week, we'll see how much the Raiders have improved.
The offseason was full of optimism, especially coming from defense. The team basically had a complete overhaul to enhance the talent on the field and the coaches as well. The Raiders were supposed to fix the obstacles they had on defense in previous years. The team made several offseason moves by first selecting Rolando McClain and Lamarr Houston as their first two draft picks in April this year. The Raiders picked up veteran players like Quentin Groves, Kamerion Wimbley
, and John Henderson. With the re-signing of Richard Seymour and holding on to Tommy Kelly, the front seven on paper looked great.
Several factors can't happen if the Raiders are to win Sunday. Darren McFadden needs to be ready to play after a minor hamstring injury suffered last week. Bruce Gradkowski needs to continue to improve and go for the end zone more often than settling for a field goal. Gradkowski and tight end Zach Miller will continue the great passing threats. In the game last week, Miller caught 11 passes for 122 yards with a touchdown.
The biggest area to fix on offense is the starting receivers. Both second-year receivers Darius Heyward-Bey and Louis Murphy need to simply catch the ball and be aware of their surroundings. This was shown last week where Murphy dropped an accurate pass from Gradkowski towards the end of the game.
The defensive front seven needs to step up their talents and show up to stop the Chargers quarterback Phillip Rivers and the running game of Mike Tolbert, Darren Sproles, and Ryan Mathews. Though DE John Henderson continues to be sidelined, the Raiders still have enough defensive talent to make an impact as the unit has shown in some instances this season. Before the second half of last week's game, the Raiders were allowing more than 100 yards fewer per game than they did a year ago. This sign of progress needs to continue and further improve.
Clearing up these problems, like stopping the opponents from running the ball, is important. Eliminating penalties that plagued the Raiders and converting on their red zone chances will win them the game.
The season is young and the Raiders need to think positive, or it can only lead them to the opposite direction.
The Raiders now need to think of the early losses this season as a learning experience and move on and become better coaches and players. The Raiders need to stop playing to take the lead, but to play to win the game. The Raiders can win if they want it to win. If they just want to play to take the lead and move slowly like the past two games, the results may just head to similar directions.
Offensive coordinator Hue Jackson's new offensive system is now beginning to adjust especially at the offensive line. Hopefully it does not take too long before it all comes together, otherwise it may create disaster later in the season.
On defense, the Raiders are slowly becoming a solid unit, even though they are having rough times this season. Soon the defense will become very talented and strong. The team is going through its ups and downs early, and the Raiders are very close to being 3-1, not 1-3.
No need to push the panic button yet. Players and coaches now need to put their talent altogether to progress into a winning team. The Raiders need to put the early part of the season to rest. It's still early enough in the season where they could be 5-3 by midseason. Putting it all on the table and going after the wins is what's at stake. They are only beating themselves. Think wins, play for wins. Wins will come.