Running Back DeAndré Washington
Heading into the Oakland Raiders home opener against the Atlanta Falcons, we highlighted three matchups that would be critical in determining the end result of Sunday's contest at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The Silver and Black fell to Matt Ryan and the Falcons 35-28, so let's see how that trio of matchups played out.
Cornerback David Amerson vs. Wide Receiver Julio Jones
As expected, defensive coordinator Ken Norton, Jr., threw a multitude of players at Jones to try to stop the Pro Bowl wide receiver, but at the end of the Week 2 matchup, he still went for over 100 yards, and found the end zone.
When all was said and done, Jones caught all five passes he was targeted on, totaling 106 yards, and one touchdown, en route to the 35-28 win.
For the second consecutive week, the Raiders secondary had trouble limiting the opposing quarterback, but on a positive note, Amerson was able to secure the team's first interception of the year, hauling in a pass in the end zone intended for tight end Jacob Tamme.
In total, Amerson played 55 defensive snaps before exiting due to injury, finishing his day with eight tackles, three passes defensed, and one interception.
Left Tackle Donald Penn vs. Outside Linebacker Vic Beasley
Although the second-year pass rusher was technically credited with one sack, Beasley was rendered mostly a non-factor in Sunday's clash at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
The Clemson-product finished the afternoon with just two total tackles, and was only credited with a sack because he was the closest player to Derek Carr as the quarterback scrambled out of bounds.
As expected, the offensive line has been arguably the strongest unit on the team through two weeks, even with the reshuffling that has occurred because of several injuries.
Penn played every offensive snap save one – he was forced to sit out a play after he was rolled up on following a Latavius Murray run – and was once again solid in pass protection, as he and the big men up front gave Carr ample time to operate from the pocket.
Running Backs Latavius Murray, DeAndré Washington, and Jalen Richard, vs. Running Backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman
Both groups of running backs delivered quality performances Sunday afternoon.
The trio of Murray, Washington, and Richard ran the ball 21 times for 120 yards, and one touchdown, and the Falcons backs countered, rushing the ball 29 times for 139 times and one score of their own.
While the Raiders defense struggled mightily in the Week 2 bout at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, the offense looked impressive, particularly the ground attack spearheaded by the three-headed monster of running backs.
"I mean, at the end of the day we didn't get the win, but if we continue to run the ball at a consistent rate like we're doing now, we can continue to expand our offensive, basically, and free up the wide receivers outside, because people want to sit down and stuff the run," running back Jalen Richard said. "That's a threat in our offense, and we want to continue to make it a threat."
Yes, the Silver and Black fell Sunday afternoon to the Atlanta Falcons, but the productivity of their rushing attack was not the reason why.