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OAKLAND

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.

(Disclaimer: Josh McCown is well-known to Raiders fans, and to Cardinals fans, and to Lions fans, and to Panthers fans, Bears fans, Buccaneers fans, Browns fans and now Jets fans. When he played in Oakland in 2007, he was a courageous, intelligent quarterback who simply couldn’t throw the ball very well. He seemed to be nearing the end of his NFL service. That was a decade ago. He has become the guy you sign when you are unable to acquire a real starting quarterback, and the rebuttal to every hot take about Colin Kaepernick not being good enough to make an NFL roster. And McCown had a passer rating of 113.1 against the Raiders.)

Another positive development for the 2017 Raiders: They seem to be able to cover tight ends. It was their Achilles’ heel all of last year, but Sunday the Jets tight ends combined for just 12 yards on two catches.

(Asterisk: The Jets’ No. 1 and No. 2 tight ends, Eric Tomlinson and Jordan Leggett, both missed the game with injuries. Starting in their place was Will Tye, a third-year player out of Stony Brook. McCown threw Tye a little flare on third-and-1 in the second quarter and it clanged off his hands.)

Meanwhile, the Raiders offense was clicking on all cylinders against New York. Quarterback Derek Carr utilized just about every weapon in his arsenal, with wide receivers Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree and Cordarrelle Patterson, tight end Jared Cook and running backs Marshawn Lynch, Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington all making significant contributions.

This is how the Raiders have envisioned their offense for two years — too many targets to cover, fresh legs every time someone carries the ball. The team rolled up 180 rushing yards while averaging 6.7 yards per pop, and Carr was barely touched in the pocket.

(Warning: The Jets’ defense is supposed to be better than their offense, and the D-line in particular is hailed as the heart of the team. But there is little reason to suspect they’re any good on this side of the ball, either. The Buffalo Bills, of all people, put up 408 yards against the Jets in their season opener. Part of the problem might be at safety, where New York starts two rookies in Jamal Adams and Marcus Maye.)

Everyone expected the Oakland offense to be potent this year, with the addition of Lynch and another year for Carr, Cooper and Crabtree to work their familiarity. But we’re seeing a more creative approach after a change of offensive coordinators from Bill Musgrave to Todd Downing. Sunday, Downing called an early trick play, with Lynch pitching back to Carr, who threw downfield to Crabtree for 26 yards. And the coordinator later dialed up an inside run for Patterson, a wide receiver who had lined up in the backfield; Patterson found a hole and sped 43 yards for a touchdown.

“Our coaches do a great job of expecting things, different looks or maybe they’ve showed it in the past with a different team,” Carr said.

(Reminder: The New York coaching staff may not be the NFL gold standard. Against the Bills a week earlier, the Jets trailed 21-12 with 4 minutes left when they encountered fourth-and-8 at their 44. Head coach Todd Bowles decided to punt, mystifying analysts everywhere.)

Add it all up, and it was a perfect day of football at the Coliseum. Best of all was the home debut of Lynch, the Oakland-bred and Berkeley-trained running back. He ran hard against the Jets, and danced hard on the sideline after a touchdown by Richard, one of his young understudies.

The crowd lapped it up.

(Note: We have no additional disclaimers. The Jets are horrible, and no victory against them should be taken too seriously. Nevertheless, the Raiders did what they were supposed to do Sunday, and have every right to enjoy the moment. And Lynch is a breath of fresh air.)

“Marshawn, he is Oakland,” Richard said. “I mean, he’s the epitome of what Oakland is, and he takes that to heart. He puts the city on his back. So I knew they were gonna react in that way. But it’s good just to see him having fun, back in his hometown, playing for the Raiders, first game in an Oakland stadium. First home game for us to see that fun and have the game that we had, as a group, as a team. It’s amazing.”

Richard was right, though bigger tests certainly await the Raiders.

You can reach columnist Phil Barber at 707-521-5263 or phil.barber@pressdemocrat.com. Follow him on Twitter: @Skinny_Post.

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