However, the Raiders proved very little Sunday and they must prove last week was no fluke. So which team is the real Oakland? The team in Weeks 1 and 2 or the team we saw Sunday?
By no means was the team that beat the Steelers perfect and there were some things that occurred which had not happened before this season. Oakland must make sure they fix the imperfections while still finding a way to do the things they did so well against Pittsburgh.
The biggest weakness the Raiders showed Sunday was the pass defense. Ben Roethlisberger tore up the secondary for more than 350 yards while completing 73 percent of his passes. Oakland has had a rotation at cornerback and was missing its two opening day starters at the position. Still, if the Raiders don’t find a way to improve against the pass, teams will abandon the run and throw the ball around the field on them.
As part of that pass defense, the Raiders could not stop Heath Miller at all. The tight end made eight catches including two for touchdowns and shredded the Oakland defense. Many teams struggle with stopping the tight end and it is becoming a more important part of NFL offenses, so Oakland must find a way to at least limit the productivity of the opponent’s tight end.
On to the good news for Oakland and there was plenty when it comes to the running game. Darren McFadden ran for more than 100 yards for the first time all season while the defense held Isaac Redman to just 27 yards on the ground. That sort of stat line is common among teams that have success in this league. While the Oakland defense has been good against the run in two of its three games, the Raiders’ running attack was lackluster in the first two games.
Oakland must continue to get contributions from McFadden on the ground and not allow Carson Palmer to throw the ball 5o times a game. The quarterback only threw the ball 34 times in the win, by far the least Palmer has thrown in the first three weeks. A good running game is able to set up the passing game and Palmer has proven he can be accurate and efficient if you let him throw in smaller quantities.
At the end of the day, the Raiders win is impressive, but unless they find a way to go to the Mile High City and do what is said above against the Denver Broncos, Sunday’s win will be considered a fluke.