Raiders 26 - Chiefs 16
Over the past 3 weeks, the Raiders have made steady, incremental progress towards gaining traction with the new systems installed by the new coaching staff. Although there has been inconsistency shown throughout this period of time, the defensive unit has made the most noticeable positive strides. Run D, QB pressure, and pass coverage have made tangible improvements.
Starting with the Atlanta game (20-23) where LB McClain was substituted on passing downs and CB Huff became more comfortable playing CB, the Raiders D has given up only a small handful of explosive plays to the opponent. The lack of mental errors, blown assignments, and better overall execution is a sign that the techniques, instructions, and coaching during the week leading up to game day is starting to take shape and most importantly sink in.
The 2 defenders who have really excelled are first year free agent LB Wheeler and rookie LB Burris. Both men have been flying to the ball. Other notable defenders who seem to be improving from week to week are CB Lee and CB Hanson. It is interesting, to me at least, that some of these low cost additions to the roster are beginning to pay off. I give GM McKenzie credit for identifying players that can contribute on a shoe string budget in 2012.
After playing solid football yet losing to the Falcons on the road at the last tick of the clock, the Raiders came home and took care of business vs. a struggling JAX Jaguars team. Getting off to a slow start vs. JAX in the 1st half demonstrated the "work-in-progress" mode the Raiders are in. What impressed me the most about this victory were the adjustments and execution in the 2nd half. Down 17-6 at half, the Raiders outscored JAX 20-6. The Raiders defensive unit gave up a mere 2 1st downs the entire 2nd half.
In the contest this past Sunday vs. the Chiefs, the Raiders had difficulties in the red zone but dominated the game from start to finish. Both the OLine and Dline won the battles in the trenches. The OLine kept CP3 clean all day and were able to wear down the Chiefs by pounding the ball with McFadden who racked up 114 yards rushing. The offense had a nice rhythm and was balanced. Winning 2 games in a row after arguably the best overall performance of the season (ATL), gives the Raiders an opportunity to build confidence in the players, systems, and coaches going forward. Although we are only 7 games into the new era and there is a long ways to go, I like the course that DA and McKenzie are paving for long term success.