The Autumn Wind is 1-0 this season after Oakland’s final Monday Night Football game. This happened despite everybody on ESPN’s Monday Night Countdown picking the Broncos to win on the road. Oakland proved them all wrong with a convincing victory over Denver. The Broncos are a relic of the team that won a Super Bowl this decade but they’ve got a solid roster. They’ve got an experienced quarterback and head coach in their first years as Broncos. The Raiders aced this good initial test. Still, I’d be lying to you if I said I expected the Raiders to win at home. It’s not that I didn’t think the Raiders could beat the Broncos, I just trend towards cautious optimism. I’ve seen one winning season in 17 years, so I’m still always weary. Maybe that’s the stress that comes with being a Raiders fan today.
Nonetheless, a lot of people including me were proven wrong. A lot of people assumed the team would struggle the day it cut a All-Pro receiver like Antonio Brown. However, my concerns were deeper. Brown was in and out of camp so the offense already worked without him. Instead, I questioned if Josh Jacobs could be the work horse the Raiders needed to open up the offense and stay ahead of the downs. He was more of a situational player at Bama but he showed the Broncos he can impact the game anytime he touches the ball.
Further, I didn’t know if Denzel Good or Jordan Devey could withstand the scheme and talent the Broncos brought upfront. Raiders offensive line coach Tom Cable had them ready. They are solid players and great depth pieces once the Raiders get Richie Incognito back from suspension and Gabe Jackson back from injury.
Williams Shines, Waller Impresses
I thought Tyrell Williams would struggle as the No. 1 receiver since he benefited from playing alongside Keenan Allen most of his career. Williams wasted no time dominating the Broncos defensive back which featured two pro bowlers with Chris Harris Jr. And Kareem Jackson. The same thoughts applied to Darren Waller. Was the Hard Knocks hype real? Could Waller go from unknown to a dominate tight end? There were questions about Derek Carr too. Could he return to MVP form in Year Two of Gruden? Or would he revert to the dink and dunk?
Carr wasted no time connecting with Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller for highlights. Throughout the night Carr commander the huddle and line of scrimmage. He was poised in the pocket but kept the defense honest with his feet. Carr was accurate at multiple levels and played efficient. It was exactly what the Raiders needed.
On defense, we need to see signs that the young defensive line took strides. We saw that with Ferrell and Mayowa’s sacks. We also saw the linebacker corps take steps with Burfict at the helm. The secondary also looked good despite Abrams and Conley having various levels of injuries.
The point is, the Raiders proved a lot of people wrong on Monday Night including myself. Now they’ll need to do it again versus an even bigger and better AFC West rival. They’ll need to see how there pass rush and secondary stacks up versus the high powered Chiefs offense. Their DBs will have a challenge with the Chiefs running game and Travis Kelce too. Oakland will need to keep the momentum on offense too. This Chiefs defense features a few household names like the Broncos but not nearly the pedigree. However, Kansas City is going to have Jacobs, Tyrell and Waller on film now. Those guys are gonna have to prove people wrong again versus the Chiefs.
In fact, the Raiders are gonna have to prove everybody wrong again all season. They’ve got the toughest schedule in terms of travel and they’ll have to prove they can travel. They’ll have to prove they can win in the final season of Oakland. They’ll have to prove their offense is as advertised under Gruden and their defense is more than competent. The truth is, week one is only start of the Raiders needing to prove everyone wrong. They’re gonna need to keep proving people wrong versus the Chiefs and other teams all season.