All off-season long, the Raider Nation was forced to hear that their beloved Oakland Raiders would be one of the worst NFL teams in modern history. Many pundits had declared the Raiders as the likely landing spot for Jadeveon Clowney and some even said the Raiders wouldn’t win a game. Fast forward to tonight and it looks like the Raiders have a real shot at making some noise this year. The Raiders should actually be 2-0 right now because of the blown game in Indianapolis last week.
The unlikely rise of the Raiders can directly be attributed to the electrifying Terrelle Pryor, who has rejuvenated the Raider Nation since being named the starting quarterback. While Pryor has looked mediocre as a pocket quarterback, his athletic ability has changed the Raiders offensive identity.
Defenses are forced to change their schemes when playing Pryor, which has opened up holes for Darren McFadden. After allowing Pryor to run 27 yards up the middle in the second quarter, Jacksonville’s defense began to focus on shutting down Pryor’s running ability. However, on the very next play the Raiders ran a read-option that went to McFadden who ran for 24 yards. With Pryor at the helm of the offense, the Raiders will have one of the most explosive running games in the league. Unfortunately, the Raiders offense could not put the ball into the end zone enough today. The Raiders must improve on their red zone offense to have any shot at making the playoffs.
What makes the Raiders prospects so exciting is the rise of Dennis Allen’s defense. We finally get to see the aggressive hybrid defensive scheme that we were promised when Reggie McKenzie hired the young defensive minded Allen. With the additions of a slew of veteran defensive backs and the drafting of DJ Hayden, the Raiders are finally equipped to run Allen’s scheme. The Jaguars offense was blitzed every which way on Sunday. The Raiders held the Jaguars to only 1.8 yards a carry while also limiting the passing attack.
The Raiders will face their stiffest test of the season as they travel to take on the hated Denver Broncos next Monday night. We are used to seeing the Raiders get blown out on national TV games over the last decade so this will be a huge game for the Raiders. Peyton Manning has looked unstoppable in his first two games so Dennis Allen’s defense must be prepared to stop an offensive juggernaut.
While it is unlikely the Raiders will dethrone the Broncos in Denver, they must show that they can compete with the best teams in the NFL in order to release the stigma that the Raiders are one of the worst teams in the league. If the Raiders can gain some confindence in Denver, they have a real chance of winning at least 3 out of their next 4 games against the Redskins, Chargers, Chiefs and Steelers.