It was a home opener just like they script ’em as the Raiders rolled the New York Jets 45-20 on a glorious day at the Coliseum. The defense defended, the offense did not offend the home fans and the special teams were pretty special.
(Disclaimer: It must be repeated here that the Raiders were playing the Jets on Sunday.)
Virtually everything went right for the Raiders as they improved to 2-0 and kept pace with the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC West. Oakland outscored the Jets in each quarter and bested the visitors in virtually every significant statistical category, including total yardage (410-271), rushing yardage (180-126), passing yardage (230-145), first downs (21-17), sacks (4-0), takeaways (2-0) and time of possession (31:02-28:41).
“It looked like the crowd had some fun,” Raiders coach Jack Del Rio said after the game. “Good, solid day. It’s awesome to be 2-0, nice start to the season.”
(Caution: Watching the Jets for more than a few minutes at a time may cause eye strain, dizziness, physical discomfort and nausea. The Jets are generally regarded as the worst team in the National Football League. They were 5-11 last season and somehow managed to get much worse over the 2017 offseason. On Sept. 4, the Westgate Las Vegas Super Book put the odds of the Jets winning the Super Bowl at 1,000-to-1. The next biggest underdog was Buffalo at 200-to-1. Many teams have been accused of tanking at the end of an NFL season in an effort to lock up a top draft pick. The Jets might be the first team accused of doing it in the spring and summer.)
Of all the Raiders’ successes on Sunday, the most welcome came on the defensive side of the ball. Last year this team ranked 26th overall on defense, and the holes were apparent from the outset. In the first two games of the 2016 season, the Raiders surrendered 1,036 combined yards to the Saints and Falcons. It was an NFL record. This year Oakland has given up 621 yards in Weeks 1 and 2, including a highly tolerable 271 against the Jets.
“You study the first two games last year compared to this year, I think you can obviously see the improvement,” cornerback David Amerson said.
And you can see aggressiveness. The Raiders’ pass rush was strong Sunday, and a lot of it was supplied by strong safety Karl Joseph, who got his hand on Jets quarterback Josh McCown to disrupt a third-and-8 pass play, and later had a sack and fumble recovery to set up the Raiders’ final touchdown.
(Note: The Jets’ roster is a vast, barren scrubland of talent. In June, NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah tweeted about a league executive who told him the Jets “might have the worst roster I’ve seen in a decade.” Not the worst Jets roster. The worst NFL roster. Against the Raiders, New York started a wide receiver named Robby Anderson, and McCown threw passes to guys named Charone Peake, Neal Sterling and Elijah McGuire. We are still trying to confirm their existence.)
The Raiders’ secondary took a beating last year, but it looks like a much-improved unit in 2017. McCown was efficient enough Sunday, but he averaged less than 10 yards a completion and was frequently under pressure.