Raiders use near flawless offense for best start in 15 years
ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) — Like most NFL coaches, Jack Del Rio focuses less on Oakland’s back-to-back wins to open the season than on the little details that the Raiders will need to improve on to maintain this success throughout the year.
The offense has been near flawless, the defense has been much improved and the special teams has generated big plays to help Oakland to its first 2-0 start in 15 years.
Just don’t expect Del Rio to be satisfied.
“I’m always really honest. I keep it real with our guys. I try to shoot straight,” he said Monday, a day after Oakland’s 45-20 win over the New York Jets in its home opener.
“This is what it is. This is our standard. This is what it needs to look like. This is where we’re doing a nice job. You always want to feel good about winning, but hey, this is the reality of what we need to be better in, where we need to be better specifically, how we’re going to be better and then let’s get to work.”
Even the most discerning coach would have a hard time finding things to fix on offense. The Raiders can run with power behind Marshawn Lynch . They can get big plays on the ground with speed from Jalen Richard or even receiver Cordarrelle Patterson. They have game-breaking receivers on the outside in Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree and a tight end to target the middle of the field in Jared Cook.
It all adds up to one of the best offensive starts for any team in years. Oakland has had 19 drives in two games that didn’t end up in a kneel down and has scored eight touchdowns, kicked five field goals, committed no turnovers and gone three-and-out just three times.
The Raiders are averaging 3.6 points per drive overall, the best mark in the league through two games since the 2008 Broncos. Oakland is the first team since Denver in 2000 to score at least 70 points and commit no turnovers over the first two weeks.
“We have so many weapons,” Patterson said. “Sky is the limit for these guys, for us, and being part of this organization it’s amazing. I’m glad I’m here, it feels good and you know there are weapons all around the board.”
The lack of mistakes so far for the Raiders has been perhaps most notable, especially as many other teams around the league have struggled to find a rhythm early. Oakland has not turned the ball over, allowed only two sacks and committed its only procedure penalty of the season when Derek Carr was called for a false start in the closing minute Sunday.
Much of that comes because of a stellar offensive line that returns three Pro Bowlers from a year ago and has gotten strong play from the one newcomer at right tackle in Marshall Newhouse.
“There are some things we have to clean up,” Del Rio said. “There are some things out there that have to be corrected and will be corrected. That’s the good thing. You do it with a smile. As well as they played in certain spots, there’s some other areas where have to be better.”
With coordinator Todd Downing able to utilize so many different options the Raiders have been nearly unstoppable. Lynch is averaging 4.0 yards per carry and scored his first touchdown since 2015 against the Jets on Sunday. Richard added a 52-yard run and Patterson scored on a 43-yarder after motioning into the backfield from his receiver spot.
The aerial game has been just as effective with Carr completing 75 percent of his passes for the season and throwing three TD passes to Crabtree on Sunday after connecting with Cooper and Seth Roberts in the opener.
Carr has gotten rid of the ball faster than any quarterback in the league, according to SportRadar, running Downing’s offense almost flawlessly.
“Something he tells me every day: `Let me be aggressive, you just be efficient,'” Carr said. “If his play calls are aggressive or they show us a look we don’t like, you just be smart and efficient, but you be aggressive. That’s just how we play.”
NOTES: Del Rio said CB Sean Smith’s neck injury that kept him out of Sunday’s game shouldn’t be a long term and he could play this week. … Del Rio said FB Jamize Olawale (quadriceps) and S Keith McGill (foot) also could be back this week.