Raiders takeaways: What we learned from 31-24 road win vs. Colts

Raiders takeaways: What we learned from 31-24 road win vs. Colts


INDIANAPOLIS -- The Raiders are headed for London with a smile.

The Silver and Black snapped a two-game losing streak with Sunday’s 31-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil as essential a win as one can have in Week 4.

The Raiders face Khalil Mack and the Chicago Bears next week in the United Kingdom, and entering that game in that place -- the Raiders have been terrible in two previous London games -- with a string of defeats would’ve been bad news.

Now they come in confident after beating a solid Colts team at their place, making it to .500 at the quarter pole.

Here are three takeaways from an important victory on a grueling five-game stretch playing away from home:

Raiders find a way to rally

The Raiders got dismantled last week by the Minnesota Vikings. Dis-man-tled. It was the type of humbling, beat-in-every-phase loss that can stick in your teeth, making a team feel less than while working through this extended time away from home.

Tahir Whitehead and Josh Mauro said after that Vikings loss that players would apply peer pressure and hold each other accountable during the practice week and respond well from disappointment.

That certainly happened. The Raiders started hot and held strong despite a late charge from the Colts that made it a one-score game in the waning moments.

Erik Harris secured victory with a pick-six on the Colts’ formal comeback attempt, putting a solid stamp on a game the Raiders desperately needed.

This was a big moment for Jon Gruden’s crew and certainly helps foster chemistry and confidence after weathering adversity. Last year’s team would’ve lost this game. This one rebounded well. That’s important in the grand scope.

Good things happen with Jacobs involved

The Raiders took an early, multiple score lead in this game, creating an ideal environment to run the football and keep Josh Jacobs involved.

As you’d expect, feeding him worked out well. The team’s best skill player was productive on the ground and as a receiver. He wasn’t excellent, but he steadily produced with 79 yards on 17 carries. He also had two receptions for 29 yards, his first touch in the passing game since Week 1.

DeAndre Washington and Jalen Richard rotated in to keep Jacobs fresh, and that trio proved an effective, valuable part of the offense that was underused in the previous two games.

All told, the backs had 152 yards of total offense and diversified the offense. That took focus from Darren Waller and Tyrell Williams, players the Colts were clearly looking to take away.

[RELATED: Report: AB to file record nine grievances against Raiders, Pats]

Solid starting script

The Raiders had started fast several times in the Jon Gruden era. They don’t always end well, but the offensive play caller’s first 15 or so plays generally run smooth.

They couldn’t have gone better Sunday, when the Raiders built a two-score lead on a Foster Moreay touchdown pass and a 60-yard jet sweep by Trevor Davis keyed by blocks from Darren Waller and Kolton Miller.

The Raiders were up big in a flash, and the defense held strong until the end of the first quarter. The Silver and Black are far better playing with a lead, able to keep the offense balanced.

The lead probably should’ve been bigger, but a few key miscues kept it relatively close in the first half. The Raiders were up 21-10 at the half and expanded the lead with a solid third-quarter field goal drive that lasted nine minutes, 42 seconds.

The solid early start set the tone, and gave the offense a lift after it looked listless last week against Minnesota. It was a positive and sure sign the Raiders rallied after a disappointing Week 3 defeat.

Raiders injury report: Lamarcus Joyner questionable for Week 12 vs. Jets


Raiders injury report: Lamarcus Joyner questionable for Week 12 vs. Jets

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – Lamarcus Joyner was a limited participant in Friday’s Raiders practice. That opens the door a crack for the veteran slot cornerback to play Sunday against the Jets.

He formally was designated questionable Friday on the team’s official injury report. He’ll travel out with the team, but don’t take that to mean he’s playing. It remains uncertain at this point if they can get Joyner back from a hamstring strain that kept him out of a victory over the Bengals.

“I’m not sure that he’ll play,” head coach Jon Gruden said, “but he’ll be there.”

Nevin Lawson will play the slot if Joyner is out for a second straight week.

Reserve tackle David Sharpe was ruled out with a calf injury, though starting right tackle Trent Brown was pulled off the injury report after being limited with a knee injury during the practice week. The same goes for center Rodney Hudson, still battling an ankle issue that kept him out against the Lions.

Gruden also said that new linebacker Preston Brown isn’t ready to assume a role quite yet. He knows the system relatively well but still is adjusting to it and will take some time before jumping into Raiders game action.

“He’s going to continue to learn our defense and put his spin on things,” Gruden said. “In a few weeks from now, perhaps he’ll be ready to go.”

[RELATED: How Raiders coaches work OT to prep new players to make immediate impact]


OT David Sharpe (calf)

CB Lamarcus Joyner (hamstring)

LB C.J. Mosley (groin)

S Matthias Farley (quadriceps)
CB Darryl Roberts (calf)
LB Paul Worrilow (quadriceps)

OL Chuma Edoga (ankle)
DL Henry Anderson (shoulder)
OL Kelvin Beachum (ankle)
LB Brandon Copeland (hip/thumb)
LB Neville Hewitt (neck/knee)
OL Alex Lewis (elbow/shoulder)
DL Steve McLendon (neck)
WR Demaryius Thomas (hamstring)

How Raiders assistants work overtime to prepare new players to make impact


How Raiders assistants work overtime to prepare new players to make impact

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The Raiders used seven linebackers last season. All of them were in camp with the Raiders, and those numbers only altered after a few veteran cuts and a practice squad promotion.

This season has been a different story. The Raiders have used nine thus far, with Preston Brown set to be the position group’s 10th contributor here on Sunday against the New York Jets or, more likely, later this season.

All those additions extend position coach David Lippincott’s days and work nights while devoting significant effort into getting new guys up to speed in a hurry.

Why is he working overtime? The Raiders lost Marquel Lee to the injured reserve. Vontaze Burfict has been suspended for the rest of this season. Brandon Marshall had two stints with the Raiders but never stuck.

The Raiders turned over every rock looking for help, signing rookie Dakota Allen and promoting practice squad players Justin Phillips and Quinton Polling for spells. Veteran Will Compton was added a few weeks before Brown, as the Raiders tried to find functional depth behind Tahir Whitehead and Nicholas Morrow.

None of those new guys worked with the Raiders this offseason, leaving Lippincott to get them ready to contribute during the season while game-planning for the next opponent.

That’s no easy task.

“You definitely try to streamline what you do,” Lippincott said. “And you can’t give it all to them right away. You have them come in a little bit early and meet with them in the morning to figure out what you need to hit in a small period of time. If you overload them, they generally can’t handle it. It’s too much, too fast. Whatever game planning time we have, I have to go meet with the staff and then come back to the new guys. You really have to manage the time well.”

Lippincott and his fellow position coaches have done an excellent job getting new guys to making contributions quickly. Receivers coach Edgar Bennett had to do it several times, especially after the Raiders traded for Zay Jones and Trevor Davis. Secondary coach Jim O’Neill had to get D.J. Swearinger ready to start in a week. Brenston Buckner got Dion Jordan up and active in just a few days.

The results have been overwhelmingly positive to this point.

“That’s a sign of a high effort coaching staff,” head coach Jon Gruden said, “ ... and a group of guys that are willing to give anybody a chance if they deserve it.”

Gruden’s right. Getting new guys ready to play well on the fly takes significant time and effort. Lippincott detailed that process from a linebacker’s perspective in a Thursday interview with NBC Sports Bay Area.

“The first thing we do is find out what they’ve done and how it relates to what we do,” Lippincott said. “You have to establish what you have to teach them and what you can skip over. It could be anywhere from rules of coverage or run fits or fronts. Some people make run similar coverages with different techniques, and those are things we have to address. From there, you have to shore up the run game and the coverages. The blitzes they have to do on their own. It’s more of an individual assignment they need to execute.

“The good thing about defense is that it’s somewhat universal. Guys are going to run a handful of coverages the same way. It helps that, in that instance, we’re just changing terminology.”

The players have to remain committed to an intense process that doesn’t let up after the first week. Coaches teach the basics and specific packages, and then hone on the week’s game plan. The latter will vary based upon the opponent, so new guys are always learning and developing and absorbing things most teammates learned during the offseason program.

Two things make this process a bit easier: Technology and no need for transportation.

Lippincott made teaching tapes for his new linebackers that are downloaded on an iPad that include game-film examples, slides with defensive rules and illustrated breakdowns of a given assignment.

It also helps that most of the new players are staying close by. There’s a hotel close to the Raiders facility where newcomers generally stay, meaning they’re always walking distance of more instruction.

“You give them a little bit, then you let them get away from it and work on their own while I go game plan with the other coaches,” Lippincott said. “After that, they can come back and we’ll have dinner together and attack another concept. After they go home that night, the install for the week is done and they can study that and go over my teaching tapes again.”

After a week’s practice, assistants have to relay what the new player has mastered and what he’s able to do right away. If a player has to replace and injury unexpectedly, and perform without full mastery, Lippincott will relay which plays the new guy is ready for. Swearinger, Compton and Jordan were able to contribute right away in specific packages. Receivers have to know a ton, so Jones sat out a week and Davis didn’t do much his first game.

Brown has had an easier time adjusting than most, but there's still plenty of work to be done. He joined the Raiders following two years with the Bengals, who essentially ran defensive coordinator Paul Guenther’s defense in 2018 after he left to join the Raiders. He knows most of the concepts and even some of the terminology but has been attached to Lippincott most of the prep week, learning a scheme he'll apply this week or the next. 

“Coach has been outstanding,” Brown said. “I have been spending a lot of extra time with him trying to get everything down and getting ready to contribute. Any time I can steal to learn is helpful. I know a lot of what we’re doing here, but it’s all the little things, the checks, motions and shifts that I have to get locked down. I know the base plays, but there’s still plenty of work to go this week and after that.”

[RELATED: How Waller alters mindset to beat coverage]

Roles will expand with knowledge and competence proven in practice. Not every addition works out, but new players that have panned out kept the Raiders afloat at positions of weakness, especially on a defense beset by serious injuries.

“We’ve had a lot of guys at all three different levels that we had to get and bring in and get ready to play,” Guenther said. “You’ve got safeties, you got [Will] Compton, you got Dion Jordan coming in here. The coaches have done a tremendous job getting these guys ready to play and getting them to understand how we do it. The technique, the footwork, all that stuff. Not just the call and, ‘hey this is where I go,’ but how to do it the right way. The coaches deserve a lot of credit for that.”