The Raiders have started to find their stride after spending a month and a half acclimating to Josh McDaniels' system and culture. The Silver and Black chalked up their second win of the season in Week 7 utilizing a complementary football formula that could produce more wins in the coming weeks.
Given some time to study the game tape and box score while surveying the rest of the NFL landscape, here are some thoughts and observations from a former scout.
One at a time
Coaches rarely admit to looking at the regular season schedule and chalking up possible wins, but it does not take a rocket scientist to identify the next few weeks as the statistically softer part of the Raiders' schedule. Still, any team can win on any given Sunday, and the Silver and Black cannot afford to overlook any team on the schedule, even the sub-.500 squads. On paper, the Raiders' next four opponents — the New Orleans Saints, Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts and Denver Broncos — have a combined record of 9-18-1 with each recently trending in the wrong direction.
But as the Raiders settle into their identity as an old-school squad with a hard-hitting running game and a dynamic offense complemented by an opportunistic defense, each opportunity to knock off inferior competition needs to be taken seriously.
Josh Jacobs is a baller
The b-word is only reserved for certified playmakers in the locker room. Although Jacobs has certainly earned that distinction throughout his career with the Raiders, the Pro Bowler's performance in recent weeks has confirmed his status as one of the best running backs in the league. The 5-foot-10, 220-pounder posted his third straight 100-yard game while shouldering the heavy workload of an old-school feature back. As the Raiders' designated RB1, Jacobs logged at least 20 carries for the third consecutive game as McDaniels has started to build the offensive game plan around his talents. With the fourth-year pro punishing opponents with hard-nosed runs between the tackles, the Raiders have been able to utilize a ground-and-pound approach to set the table for an offense that is beginning to find its identity under their new coach. If Jacobs continues to flourish as the workhorse in the backfield, the Raiders offense will give plenty of defensive coordinators sleepless nights as they try to come up with a plan to best defend No. 28.
Daniel Carlson is a secret weapon
Kickers are rarely viewed as game changers, but the Raiders have a difference-maker at the position in Daniel Carlson. The fifth-year pro has made 39 straight field goals since Week 8 of last season, the fifth-longest streak in NFL history. Carlson connected a 50-yarder against the Texans to push his season mark to five-for-five on long-distance kicks (50-plus yards), while pushing his efficiency to 85.7% on such kicks throughout his career. Considering the veteran placekicker is nearly automatic on 50-plus attempts, the red zone expands to the 35-yard line for the Raiders. With points coveted at a premium in a league in which scoring is at near an all-time low, the ability to rely on a dependable long-distance kicker is a huge advantage for the Silver and Black.
View team photographer Matt Aguirre's best photos from Allegiant Stadium's catwalk during the Las Vegas Raiders' Week 7 victory against the Houston Texans.