Top 5 takeaways from Raiders' 33-16 win over Jaguars
Five wins, two losses
The Raiders rarely take the easy road to victory. Fourth quarters have induced stress during this hot start, demanding dramatic comebacks and late defensive stops to secure wins. On Sunday, however, the Raiders were able to hit cruise control. They established a big halftime lead and held it, using conservative offense, an excellent punter and a surprisingly steady defense to put the Jaguars away.
While the Jaguars weren’t competitive and the Raiders didn’t show a true killer instinct, they completed tasks required to win and improve to 5-2 on the season. They’ll spend the week in Florida trying to improve that mark against Tampa Bay and finish the season’s first half in style.
5) Road warriors stay perfect
The road was cruel to the Raiders before Jack Del Rio came to town. The Raiders were terrible away from the East Bay, especially with early kickoffs after crossing multiple time zones. That’s not the case anymore. The Raiders sport an 8-4 road record under Del Rio, a new mark set with Sunday’s victory at Jacksonville.
The Raiders controlled this one from the outset, and players credited coaches and support staff for keeping them on task during the first half of a two-game road trip in Florida. They’re 4-0 on the road for the first time since 2000, which adds value to their 5-2 record, assuming they start playing better at home.
4) Raiders pirating the opposition
No defense has given up more yards than the Raiders this season, but that unit has found other ways to make an impact. These Raiders are thieves, taking the ball away at a rapid rate. They have 13 takeaways in seven games, including three against Jacksonville. They have a trio of three-takeaway games, all without turning the ball over. Their plus-8 turnover ratio ranks third in the NFL and has helped the Raiders stay on top despite inconsistency on both sides of the ball.
3) Too much Sea Bass
The Raiders were awesome in the red zone early on, scoring touchdowns on 10 of their first 11 trips inside the opposing 20-yard line. They haven’t been as good over the last few games, settling for field goals more often than they’d like. Sebastian Janikowski has attempted 11 field goals in the last three games, including a 4-for-4 performance against the Jaguars. That isn’t what the Raiders want, and they know they must finish drives consistently to operate efficiently. It’s hard to complain about an offense that scored 33 points Sunday and averages 26.4 points per game, but that will remain a point of emphasis as the season progresses.
2) Pick your poison
The Jaguars drafted top-flight cornerback Jalen Ramsey No. 5 overall this year, and use him to shadow an opponent’s best receiver. Ramsey’s been good shadowing and shutting down top options, and kept Amari Cooper under wraps Sunday afternoon. Ramsey doesn’t have a twin, and can’t cover the Raiders pair of No. 1s. With Cooper covered, quarterback Derek Carr capitalized on favorable matchups for Michael Crabtree. The veteran flourished in that environment, with eight catches for 96 yards and a touchdown, including a 56-yard grab that changed the game. Carr has options in the passing game, which allows the Raiders offense to keep churning when defenses scheme a skill player out of the game plan.
1) Defense takes step forward
The Raiders allowed 334 yards on Sunday against Jacksonville. That isn’t a great total, but it still marked a season low. It was also the second time in seven games the Raiders kept the opposition under 20 points, which is typically enough for the offense to secure victory. They made strides over last week’s embarrassing loss to Kansas City. Defensive coordinator Ken Norton insisted the Raiders would stay the course after the Chiefs loss.
That effort paid dividends on Sunday. The Raiders made strides in previously deficient areas. They communicated well and operated better as a unit, with few misreads apparent to the naked eye. The effort wasn’t perfect, but a step in the right direction. Defenders also said they were on the same page, an important step for a defense not yet playing to its talent level.