Running Back DeAndré Washington
The Oakland Raiders dropped their 2016 regular season home opener to the Atlanta Falcons 35-28 at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum Sunday afternoon.
Let's quickly take a look at five takeaways from the Week 2 loss.
1. The Defense Struggled Again
There's no sugarcoating it, surrendering 528 yards of total offense won't get the job done in the National Football League, but that was what happened to the Silver and Black's defense Sunday in their home opener.
Quarterback Matt Ryan finished the day 26 of 34 for 396 yards, and three touchdowns, as the Raiders allowed the opposing signal-caller to reach north of 350 passing yards for the second-consecutive week.
"Obviously, we're making a lot of mistakes," said linebacker Malcolm Smith. "There [are] things we have to fix. There's no choice."
In addition to Ryan's impressive day, the two-headed monster of running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman also added 139 yards on the ground, making the Falcons offense all the more dynamic Sunday afternoon.
The defense hasn't found its footing through the first two weeks of the regular season, but they'll have to regroup in a hurry, as the team must now prepare for back-to-back road trips against the Tennessee Titans and Baltimore Ravens respectively.
2. Derek Carr Is Finding His Groove
While the Raiders didn't leave the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum with a win Sunday, they can take solace in the fact that their starting quarterback has been impressive through the first two contests of 2016.
Last week, Carr went toe-to-toe with Drew Brees, finishing the day with 319 passing yards, and Sunday, the third-year quarterback put together another quality day, going 34 of 45 for 299 yards and three touchdowns.
"He [Carr] takes control," left tackle Donald Penn said. "He's a guy that has command, and his passion to win, you can't beat it. He leads our team, and he's out there fighting his butt off, and as an offensive lineman, you're trying to make his job easy; a lot of time he makes our job easy."
At the end of the day, the NFL is a results-based business, and the Raiders didn't get the result they were looking for Sunday, but at least the team can rest easy knowing that Carr has come hot out of the gates, and with performances like Sunday's, there won't be many games the team won't at least have a chance to win.
3. The Offensive Line Is Standing Tall
Austin Howard was the starting right tackle for the Raiders Sunday afternoon, replacing Menelik Watson who was deemed inactive prior to the start of the game, but the group didn't seem to miss a beat even with the switch.
After another impressive game where the Raiders ran for over 150 yards on the ground, and where Carr was given a plethora of time to operate from the pocket, there's an argument to be made that the offensive line has been the best unit on the field through the first two weeks of the season.
With players rotating in and out, offensive line coach Mike Tice has done a tremendous job keeping the group sharp, and their cohesion has already paid dividends for the team on the offensive side of the football.
"It's huge," running back DeAndré Washington said of the offensive line's play. "We had some guys that went down last week, so just to still be able to keep Derek upright, and keep him protected, that's a credit to Coach Tice and that room."
Through two weeks, the unit has allowed one sack, and that was a Carr step-out at the line of scrimmage on a scramble.
4. The Rushing Attack Has Been Better Than Advertised
Heading into the 2016 season, Head Coach Jack Del Rio was firm in his stance that the Raiders would run the ball and dominate the line of scrimmage.c
Well, through two games, the team has done just that, as the Raiders trio of running backs have been a bright spot for the offense.
In total, the Raiders ran the ball 25 times for 155 yards, and one touchdown, averaging an impressive 6.2 yards per carry throughout the afternoon.
Latavius Murray, DeAndré Washington, and Jalen Richard were all involved early and often, and even with the constant substitutions, the run game remained solid all day.
"We all do things differently, and we all have our strengths," running back Jalen Richard said. "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."
Through two games, the Raiders have racked up 322 yards on the ground, and while they're now sitting at 1-1, the production on the ground will certainly make Head Coach Del Rio and the offensive staff pleased.
5. There Were No Excuses Postgame
Head Coach Del Rio always says that the team gets what it earns, and right now, the Silver and Black have earned a 1-1 record.
It's certainly not the record the team was looking for after winning their season opener against the New Orleans Saints, but following the disappointing Week 2 loss, there were no excuses made for the effort.
"I'd say, if you want somebody to blame, just blame it on me," Head Coach Del Rio said. "If you need somebody to blame, blame the head coach. I'll take it. We'll correct what needs to be corrected, and we'll go forward. This is one game today that didn't go our way. I have the upmost belief in this group of guys. We just simply have to clean things up, and be much sharper."
The Raiders will have to respond quickly, as they are now hitting the road for back-to-back games, but the challenge of heading out to a hostile environment is something that left tackle Donald Penn is looking forward to, paritciuarly considering Sunday's result.
"We're going to keep striding," 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."