Quarterback Derek Carr
Heading into the Oakland Raiders Week 2 contest with the Atlanta Falcons, we highlighted five questions that we were hoping to get answered Sunday afternoon at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The Raiders lost their home opener to Matt Ryan and Co. 35-28, dropping their overall record to 1-1 heading into a road matchup next week with the Tennessee Titans at Nissan Stadium.
Before we shift our full attention to Marcus Mariota and the Titans, let's look back at Sunday's loss, and see if our five questions were answered.
1. How will the offensive line hold up?
From left to right, the offensive line actually put together a pretty quality performance Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
After missing the entire week of practice, both Menelik and Watson and Matt McCants were ruled inactive prior to the game, and as a result, Austin Howard stepped in and started at right tackle.
With Howard inserted in the starting lineup, the unit went about its business as usual, only allowing one sack of quarterback Derek Carr – which to be fair only occurred because Carr didn't reach the line of scrimmage on a quarterback rush – and also paving the way for the Raiders to gain an impressive 155 yards on the ground.
Even with the constant personnel changes, the line has been impressive, and offensive line coach Mike Tice deserves a lot of credit for keeping the group focused and performing at a high level.
2. Does Sean Smith bounce back?
Admittedly, Sean Smith hasn't had the best back-to-back weeks to start his tenure in Silver and Black, but Sunday's game against the Falcons at least was an improved effort from Week 1.
Smith played every one of the team's 64 defensive snaps in Sunday's loss to the Atlanta Falcons. He finished the game with five total tackles and one tackle for loss, en route to the Raiders 35-28 Week 2 loss.
As anticipated, defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr. threw a variety of players at Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones, Smith included, but the Pro Bowl wideout still finished the day surpassing the century mark, totaling five catches for 106 yards and one touchdown.
Quarterback Matt Ryan threw for nearly 400 yards, so it's hard to say any player in the secondary had an outstanding game, but Smith definitely put together an improved game from his Week 1 effort.
3. Can the run game keep rolling?
If you're looking for a positive takeaway Sunday's loss to the Falcons, rejoice in the fact that the three-headed monster of Latavius Murray, DeAndré Washington, and Jalen Richard put together another impressive day on the ground against the Atlanta defense.
In total, the Raiders ran the ball 25 times for 155 yards, and one rushing touchdown, and averaged an impressive 6.2 yards per carry.
Through two weeks, the Silver and Black are averaging 161 yards on the ground, which ranks second in the NFL, behind just the Carolina Panthers.
"We all do things differently, and we all have our strengths," said running back Jalen Richard. "Again, like I always say, the offensive staff does a great job of getting us in those positions, that broadcast our strengths, and that's why we come out, and it seems like we haven't skipped a beat."
4. Can the defense limit Matt Ryan?
The short answer to this question would be, no.
Ryan finished his afternoon 26 of 35 for 396 yards, and three touchdowns, and for the second-consecutive week, the Raiders defense had fits with the opposing quarterback.
The Falcons signal-caller is definitely one of the top-tier quarterbacks in the league, but allowing nearly 400 yards through the air will not get the job done, even at home in front of a raucous crowd.
"Expected to play a heck of a lot better on defense," Head Coach Jack Del Rio said postgame. "We're giving away way too many plays that should be routine and easy plays and allowing them to not only be made, but go for chunks. It will get corrected and we'll start playing really good defense here."
In their first two games, the Raiders defense has now surrendered 819 yards through the air.
5. Will the team take advantage of playing at home?
At home, in front of their fans, the Raiders had a chance to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2002, but it just wasn't in the cards Sunday as the team fell to the Atlanta Falcons 35-28.
While Matt Ryan and the Falcons offense were seemingly firing on all cylinders, Carr and the Raiders went toe-to-toe with Atlanta for most of the afternoon.
While Sunday's result was not what the Raiders were looking to achieve, as Head coach Del Rio likes to say, it's what they earned, and now the focus will shift ahead to making corrections, and preparing for the Tennessee Titans.
"We're going to keep striding," left tackle Donald Penn said. ""We have a long way to go. Ain't nobody panicking. I'm looking forward to these Titans next week, so I can get this taste out of my mouth. That's what I'm looking forward to."