The Oakland Raiders are officially on the bye.
With a message of be smart, and spend some time with your loved ones – really sage advice for all of us – Head Coach Jon Gruden sent his team on its way to enjoy the well-deserved fruits of their spoils.
The bye week always comes at the exact right time for a reason, not only does it allow the team a chance to tend to their wounds, but it provides a natural breaking point for us all to sit back and really take stock of where the team is (both good and bad) through the first part of the regular season.
So, let’s dive in, and start with….
Sitting a game over .500, and currently in the midst of the road trip to end all road trips, there’s a lot of good surrounding Jon Gruden’s team right now; the play of the offensive line, the increase in production from the defensive line, the way that Derek Carr has moved the offense and protected the football, but for me, the conversation about “good” things involving the 2019 Oakland Raiders has to begin with Josh Jacobs.
I’ll be honest, throughout the offseason, I was pretty outspoken about my desire to not select a running back in the first round – I just didn’t really think the value was there – but, man, has Josh Jacobs proven me wrong.
I’ve long maintained that I’m not a true “football guy” and if you don’t believe me, just take a look at young Mr. Jacob’s stats through five games: 88 carries for 430 yards and four touchdowns, as well as six receptions for 77 yards just for good measure.
Simply put, Jacobs has been the engine that has made the Raiders’ offense go as of late, and with 430 rushing yards through his first five games he now has more rushing yards than Marcus Allen did during his first five games as a Raider.
Yes, that Marcus Allen.
Suffice it to say, Jacobs was indeed worth the early pick – once again, my apologies – and I’m not afraid to say it; through five weeks, the explosive rookie has to be the frontrunner for Offensive Rookie of the Year.
The Not So Good
The Raiders probably aren’t alone in this predicament, but the health of this team – the wide receivers in particular – is going to be a big question headed into the rest of the year.
While Clelin Ferrell is currently dealing with a concussion, and Gabe Jackson appears to be close to a return from a knee injury suffered in training camp, the wide receiver’s group still has a lot of questions health-wise headed into the bye.
Tyrell Williams wasn’t able to go against the Chicago Bears – in fact, he didn’t practice all week in London – and he isn’t the only wideout dealing with some lingering issues.
J.J. Nelson has only appeared in two games this season, and we haven’t seen Dwayne “Gucci” Harris since Week 2 either. While the position group got a bit of a boost this week in the form of Zay Jones, but the former Buffalo Bill will need some time to acclimate to life in Silver and Black, and the team would be well served to have some friendly faces return to the fold.
Derek Carr has been really strong over the past two weeks – unsurprisingly both Raiders’ wins – but it’s wild to think that No. 4 has moved the offense so effectively, widely without the benefit of his best weapons out wide.
When the schedule came out, I think we all collectively looked at the stretch from Week 3 to Week 8 and said, alright, well, here we go.
After three of those road games – with two left on the horizon – the Raiders are actually 2-1, and have seemed to rally around the fact they’ve been thrust into this bizarre state of seemingly always living in a hotel.
The work certainly isn’t done, and back-to-back losses in Week 7 and Week 8 would certainly change the tune surrounding the Silver and Black once again, but as it stands right now, I’ve really been impressed with the way the Raiders have handled themselves away from the friendly confines of the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
Another surprising thing, real quick – just how much the rookies have produced in the first part of the regular season.
We knew that a ton of rookies would play this year, but it’s been awesome to see just how well those young fellas have performed through the first five weeks, so let’s take a look:
Josh Jacobs – Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate.
A.J. Cole – Solidified the team’s punting situation.
Foster Moreau – Has looked better each game he’s played in.
Hunter Renfrow – Put a dude on skates to help ice the win in London/has been available week in and week out in a position group that has been delaminated by injury.
Maxx Crosby – Is growing into a legitimate force along the defensive line.
Jonathan Abram – Even though his season was cut short he looked better than advertised in Week 1, and has become a bona fide fan favorite.
Clelin Ferrell – Has constantly been around the football and made an early impact on the Raiders’ D-line.
I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but you get the point; these first-year players are making the most of their reps, and that’s a great sign for the future of the organization.
Take a look at the top photos from this past Sunday at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium as the Raiders beat the Chicago Bears in London.
The Next Chapters
So, what’s next for DC and the boys when they return to work Monday morning?
Well, in a shocking turn of events – not really – we’re headed back on the road.
Here’s the thing though, if Coach Gruden’s team can manage to keep their heads above water, when they return back to The Town, the schedule really does turn a bit more favorable for them.
That said, there’s a lot that can happen between now and November 7 when the Raiders return home, but all I’m saying is things could get very interesting if the Raiders pick up a road win – or two – in the coming weeks.
Oh, and I know it’s early but keep an eye on the Kansas City Chiefs/Houston Texans game this weekend; if the Texans handle business, your Oakland Raiders will be a half game out of the division lead.
What a world that would be.
Rest up, Raider Nation, it’s going to be a lot of fun when we get back to work.