Raiders show great resolve beating Colts, prove they can take a punch

Raiders show great resolve beating Colts, prove they can take a punch

LONDON – The Raiders arrived in the United Kingdom on Monday morning after a long flight from Indianapolis. It must have been a fun one.

Sunday’s 31-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts was cause for celebration on its own, but the result itself takes a back seat to revelation that could impact the entire season.

These Raiders can take a punch. They’ve absorbed a flurry since the season started, from Antonio Brown’s exit on through a Week 3 obliteration in Minnesota.

Brown's departure was staggering. The Vikings put them on the canvas, but the Silver and Black popped right back up.

No way in holy heck last year’s Raiders do that. That crew could’ve been felled by a feather.

Sunday’s game tested mettle. That’s why head coach Jon Gruden ranked this win high among his favorites. In starting fast, finishing strong and overcoming mistakes in Indy, these Raiders showed great resolve.

That’s a vital trait for an imperfect roster lacking talent in some areas and depth in most all of them. Look, the Raiders will suffer some on-field setbacks. They’re going to be beat handily at times. That’s just reality for a team in the relatively early stages of a rebuild.

“One thing about this team is that we never quit,” receiver Keelan Doss said. “We have a strong mindset, that every week we can come out here and get the job done.”

The Alameda kid’s pretty perceptive.

Expectations remained high in the locker room, even after AB went nuclear. The leadership core is strong, not afraid to hold others accountable even if things get tense.

The Raiders were able to rebound and play well.

They remain a work in progress, still finding an identity as we hit the quarter turn. We’ll learn more about these Raiders as they work through a brutal road stretch that continues Sunday against Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears here in London.

Entering that game on a three-game losing streak would’ve been disastrous. Now they sit at 2-2, facing the Bears likely without quarterback Mitch Trubisky, armed with the knowledge they can beat a tough team on the road.

That Bears defense is legit. You know Mack’s going to bring the heat against the team, owner and head coach that refused to pay him fair market value. But, make no mistake, that’s a winnable game.

The win over the Colts proved that they can compete, and put some previously automatic Ls back on the table.

“It could be a turning point,” receiver Trevor Davis said. “It’s the end of the first quarter of the season, and it was important we come out of this with a win. It’ll really help as we carry on through this road trip.”

Being away from home provides a prime time for the unit to come together and, despite adverse circumstances, could bring the team together. The Raiders are in the midst of a season-defining stretch and, if they emerge from it around .500, that would be a coup.

[RELATED: Grading Raiders' offense, defense in road win over Colts]

Don’t expect the Raiders to win easy. Their talent level doesn’t afford that. Resolve to weather storms, both in games and between them, will be vital to the Silver and Black being competitive and showing progress in Gruden’s second season.

“We’re a young team, with a lot of guys who haven’t played together,” receiver Tyrell Williams said. “To come off a loss like the one we had in Minnesota, and rebound to get a win on the road really says something. It was big for us.”

Raiders' primary objective vs. Titans: Stop 'machine' Derrick Henry

Raiders' primary objective vs. Titans: Stop 'machine' Derrick Henry

ALAMEDA -- Ryan Tannehill is receiving credit for Tennessee’s recent resurgence. That’s appropriate given how well the former backup quarterback has been playing during a 5-1 stretch since becoming the starter.

Let’s not forget who’s really driving the Titans' offense. That’s the 6-foot-3, 247-pound freight train coming out of the backfield.

Derrick Henry has been a monster this season, proving as tough to take down as ever. He has 1,140 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground, currently on a run of three straight games with at least 145 yards and a touchdown.

A repeat performance on Sunday against the Raiders at Oakland Coliseum would make Henry the only player to do so in four straight games.

The Raiders would like to prevent that and are armed with the No. 12-ranked run defense. They’ll try to slow a back that never seems to wear down.

“The secret sauce in Henry is he’s got all the talent, and size, and running instincts, but he never tires,” Raiders head coach Jon Gruden said. “He does not get tired. He’s a machine, man. This guy wears you down -- physical -- he can wear you down. You’ve got to gang tackle him. He’s a better-than-advertised receiver, but he just never tires. The more they give him the ball, the better he gets. It’s an impressive human being.”

Tannehill obviously benefits from Henry’s threat and a balanced offense that has the Titans going strong. Stopping the run, or slowing it at least, will be key for the Raiders' defense in this important game. It will not, however, be easy.

“We’re looking forward to the challenge, but we know it’ll be a challenge dealing with Superman Derrick Henry,” defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins said on this week’s Raiders Talk podcast. "... He’s a great back. He’s big. He’s fast. He sheds tackles like there are kids trying to tackle him. I think, overall, we have to do a good job of keeping him in the backfield and not giving him open lanes or creases to work. We also need to hit him as much as we can, because he’s a big guy. Overall, I think we’re ready for the challenge. I’m excited for this game.”

[RELATED: Raiders' offense takes big hit with Brown out vs. Titans]

It’ll take the entire defensive unit playing disciplined football to slow Henry down. Give him an inch of space or leverage or poor tackling technique and he’ll take chunk yards by the mile.

“I just think you’ve got to be in good position,” defensive coordinator Paul Guenther said. “You’ve got to have eleven guys to the ball. You’ve got to play the blocks. First and foremost, you’ve got to be in the right spots, play the block, and then when he gets through there you’ve got to have eleven guys to the ball. He does a good job of trying to get extra yards, so we’ve got to put hats on him wherever he is, on his body as he’s trying to get those extra yards. We’ve got to make sure we get eleven to him.”

Raiders launch Josh Jacobs' NFL Rookie of the Year campaign online

Raiders launch Josh Jacobs' NFL Rookie of the Year campaign online

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have launched a campaign to help running back Josh Jacobs become the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year.

They have opened a website extolling his virtues. They have passed out buttons. They even have fullback and "chief of interior transportation" Alec Ingold giving a fireside chat about how awesome Jacobs has been in 2019.

The promotional materials may draw some extra attention, but Jacobs’ case is easy to make.

He has smashed every Raiders rookie rushing record. He exceeded 1,000 yards in his 12th game and will have huge totals even if he isn’t able to play Sunday against Tennessee. He’s formally questionable with a fractured shoulder he's been playing through since trucking Green Bay safety Adrian Amos in Week 7.

His numbers are pretty awesome. Jacobs has 218 carries 1,061 yards and seven touchdowns. That’s 4.9 yards per carry, and he ranks fifth in the NFL in total rushing yards. He also has another 18 receptions 146 yards.

The competition must always be considered, but he has to be the frontrunner after winning back-to-back rookie of the month awards.

Arizona's No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray is certainly a candidate, but the Cardinals don’t have many wins. Washington receiver Terry McLaurin and Baltimore wideout Marquise Brown have had good seasons, but they shouldn’t be considered serious competition here.

The Raiders haven’t had an offensive rookie of the year since Marcus Allen won it in 1982, and Jacobs has smashed Allen’s records from that strike-shortened year. Charles Woodson was the last rookie of the year on either side of the ball, winning the defensive award in 1998.

[RELATED: NFL prospects for Raiders to watch on Championship Weekend]

Jacobs’ shoulder injury could hurt the campaign more than anything, especially if he misses a few games or gets shut down for the rest of the season if the playoffs become a distant pipe dream.

Outside of that, he should be the favorite to win the award heading down the stretch.