Raiders

Raiders report card: Grading offense, defense in win over Cardinals

Raiders report card: Grading offense, defense in win over Cardinals

GLENDALE, Ariz. – The Raiders lost five straight by at least 14 points heading into Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals.

They snapped that streak, and not just with a close loss.

The Raiders actually won. For real.

Derek Carr orchestrated his 15th career fourth-quarter comeback to help the Raiders beat the Cardinals 23-21 at State Farm Stadium.

We typically hand out Fs by the bushel in this space, but not tonight, my friends. Not tonight.

The Raiders were far from perfect, but still did several things well in this win. Here’s the report card from the Valley of the Sun.

[BAIR: Raiders wanted to win for fans impacted by California wildfires]

Rushing offense

The Raiders were committed to the run against the Cardinals, and it paid off in spades. Running backs Jalen Richard, DeAndre Washington and Doug Martin rushed 33 times for 152 yards. That’s 4.6 yards per carry, a strong effort that gave the Raiders a balanced offense for once.

The offensive line opened holes and the backs burst right through them to keep the offense moving. Good job all around by the ground game.

Grade: A

Passing offense

Derek Carr didn’t pile up stats, but he completed passes at critical times. That was especially true on the game-winning field goal drive. He worked with the bottom of the depth chart, but still made plays with depth receivers Marcell Ateman and Seth Roberts, as well as Jared Cook.

The pass protection was spotty at best, and the entire operation needs to be cleaner. But, these guys got the job done when it counted Sunday.

Grade: B-minus

Rushing defense

After a terrible first drive, the Raiders did a solid job corralling star Cardinals running back David Johnson. All it takes, however, is one bad play to ruin a day. That came on a 55-yard run by Johnson that set up a go-ahead score with five minutes left.

In all, the Raiders allowed 154 yards on 31 carries, which will get you beat in most scenarios. Just not Sunday. 

Grade: D

Pass defense

The Raiders secondary delivered on Sunday with interceptions from defensive backs Gareon Conley and Karl Joseph. Both takeaways created great field position and resulted in Raiders touchdowns.

Cardinals rookie quarterback Josh Rosen was awful, and completed only 9-of-20 passes for 136 yards thanks to errant throws and some solid coverage from the Raiders secondary.

Grade: A-minus

Special teams

Daniel Carlson nailed the first game-winning field goal of his career as time expired. That’s all you need to get an ‘A.’

The rookie from Auburn is coming on strong the past few weeks. He could be a long-term answer at kicker if he keeps this up.

Grade: A

Overall

A cynic would say the Raiders blew it by winning, hurting their draft position in an already lost season. That’s not how the players and coaches think. They wanted to win and were able to.

It might not happen much the rest of the year, so they have to bask in this victory.

Grade: A

Johnathan Hankins loves being leader to young Raiders' defensive line

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USATSI

Johnathan Hankins loves being leader to young Raiders' defensive line

ALAMEDA -- Johnathan Hankins isn’t even 28 years old yet feels like an old man working on the Raiders defensive front. The starting line features two rookies off the edge and a second-year man working next to him inside.

He is an elder statesman in that crew, with plenty of experience in his seventh year out of Ohio State. Hankins is having a blast with a young, developing crew, knowing he must anchor the defensive line and help those around him make plays.

“I’m just trying to do my best to lead the guys,” Hankins said on this week’s Raiders Talk podcast. “I’ve been here longer than most of the guys on this unit, and I try to show them what it takes to be a professional and pass along all the information I learned from the veterans I worked with way back when.”

Hankins is paying it forward now with words and action. His role at defensive tackle often helps create opportunities for others pushing the pocket back and shutting down the opposition’s interior run game.

The Raiders are better in that area thanks in large part to Hankins’ improvement within the system and are certainly thankful last year’s in-season signing has become a permanent fixture upfront.

Hankins was in a weird spot before joining the Raiders last year, cut just a year into a big three-year contract with Indianapolis because the Colts changed defensive schemes.

He found a proper fit in Oakland and was happy to re-up with them this offseason.

“There was a lot going on after I got released by the Colts, and I was trying to find a place that fits well with me and finding an organization that wanted me,” Hankins said. “That’s what it boiled to, and it has really worked out with the Raiders.”

[RELATED: Mullen's confidence grows as he develops on the job]

Hankins considers it destiny that he’s Raiders, the same team name he had as a 6-year old running back and kicker growing up in Detroit and nearby Dearborn, Mich. That’s where he grew (quite literally) into the dominant defensive force that earned an Ohio State scholarship and a second-round NFL draft slot.

“I’m just enjoying this ride,” Hankins said. “I’m trying to be at my best and show everyone watching that I’m still one of the best defensive tackles in this league. The goal is to get to 12 years, and I think I’m on my way.”

Raiders injury report: Hunter Renfrow could return later this season

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Raiders injury report: Hunter Renfrow could return later this season

ALAMEDA – Hunter Renfrow injured his ribs and punctured his lung during a Week 12 loss to the New York Jets, a scary situation that put the rest of his season in some jeopardy.

The Raiders couldn’t say for sure if he’d finish out his rookie season, where he made steady progress and ranked high among quarterback Derek Carr’s most reliable targets.

He didn’t play last week against Kansas City and won’t play Sunday against Tennessee at Oakland Coliseum, but could well come back down the stretch.

“We’re hopeful that he could return for the last game or two,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “We’re going to keep him on the active roster. We’ll do without him for another game or two, and we’re hoping to get him back for the Chargers game [in Week 16]. That’s on our wish list, our hope list right now for Hunter. We miss him.”

Renfrow wasn’t active on Wednesday, according to a practice estimation from the team. The Silver and Black conducted a walk-through session off-site, on a basketball court in Alameda to avoid inclement weather. The focus is teaching and the mental side of the game.

“We have made some adjustments to our roster, so we have gone inside to try to multiply our reps for a lot of people that we have to get ready to play,” Gruden said. “There are pros and cons to everything. I like to get a lot of reps in on Wednesday to teach the game plan and make sure they’re sound in their assignments. It’s not at the same speed, but it’s an important part of learning, especially the changes we have had at several positions.

“I think it has been beneficial. We’ll come out and run fast Thursday and Friday and get ready for the Titans.”

Running back Josh Jacobs was considered out on the team’s practice estimation with a shoulder injury. Right guard Trent Brown was considered a non-participant with a pectoral injury. He has been dealing with knee and ankle injuries in recent weeks.

[RELATED: Review-Journal: Should Raiders move on from Derek Carr?]

Raiders practice report

WEDNESDAY
Did not practice
WR Hunter Renfrow (rib)
RB Josh Jacobs (shoulder)
OT Trent Brown (pectoral)
LB Kyle Wilber (ankle)

Limited practice
C Rodney Hudson (ankle)
CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring)
RG Gabe Jackson (knee)

NOTE: The Raiders conducted a walk-through practice on Wednesday. Therefore, the participation report is an estimation.