After a real tough loss in week two, the Raiders bounced back with a dominant win over the New York Jets. The Raiders came back from an early 17-7 deficit, scoring 24 unanswered points to eventually pull down the 34-24 win at home.
This win is big for the Raiders for a number of reasons. First, it showed that the Raiders are capable of making mid game adjustments to pull out a win. After two weeks of lack luster second half play by the Raiders, Hue Jackson had his boys ready to play the full 60 minutes. Second, it shows just how good the Raiders can be when they show up for an entire game. Sure, they still have holes, but they can play with anyone in the NFL. Finally, it showed the Raiders ability to win despite injuries. Not only were Louis Murphy and Jacoby Ford inactive for the game, but Michael Huff and Marcel Reece both left the game early in the first half.
A team win like this one is surely going to bring up the GPA.
Passing Offense: Jason Campbell and the Raiders pass game really did not put up very impressive numbers this week, but that was due to the fact that they did not have to. With Darren McFadden running the way he was, there simply was no reason to risk putting the ball in the air. That means Campbell was asked to be a game manager, not a game winner against the Jets, and boy did he answer the call. Campbell finished the game going 18 for 27 for 156 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. These are by no means the gaudy numbers he put up in week two, but he did a good job of protecting the ball and made a number of passes at crucial times to keep drives alive. Campbell did everything that was asked of him and did it well. He's starting to look like he is ready to make the jump from average quarterback to a pretty darn good quarterback.
Rushing Offense: Darren McFadden alone put up more yards against the Rex Ryan led Jets than any combined effort by a team since Ryan has been there. Previously, the most rushing yards ever put up against Ryan's Jets was 153, put up by the New Orleans Saints back in 2009. On Sunday, McFadden put up 171 yards against the Jets all by himself, including a 70 yard touchdown run that was the longest against the Jets in six years. The Raiders as a team finished with 234 yards on the ground, beating the previous high against the Ryan led Jets by nearly 100 yards.
Passing Defense: We finally get to some of the more harsh grades. This could be a long year for the Raiders secondary as they struggle to find a post Nnamdi Asomugha identity that is not synonymous with failure. Luckily for the Raiders secondary, the Raiders offense was able to do enough to get the win despite the fact that Sanchez, who is really just an above average quarterback in my book, put up some impressive numbers. Despite losing the game, Sanchez went 27 for 43 for 369 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw a pick, but that was due more to Sanchez making an astonishingly bad decision than it had to do with Tyvon Branch making a great play. In addition, the Raiders secondary failed to stop Sanchez at one of the most critical times in the game. Late in the fourth quarter as Sanchez was attempting to lead a comeback, the Raiders defense allowed him to march the Jets 56 yards as he completed 4 of his 7 passes on that drive. The Raiders secondary is going to need to stiffen up quickly if they want to pull out a win against the Patriots next week.
Rushing Defense: After allowing Fred Jackson to run all over the Raiders defense in the second half of their week two loss to the Bills, the Raiders front seven came back with a vengeance against a team that strives to be a run first, smash mouth team. As a team, the Jets put up 100 yards, but did not at all look impressive doing so. No runner was able to eclipse the 60 yard mark, and their top runner, Shonn Greene looked decidedly average.
Special Teams: The Raiders again struggled in kick coverage in week three, giving up a 50 yard kick off return and a 53 yard punt return. With the Raiders secondary in questionable shape, the Raiders special teams really needs to get better at punt and kick coverage. If the Jets had not gotten such good field position so often, this game would not have been anywhere near as close as it was. On the bright side, after missing a 56 yard field goal, Janikowski made field goals from 54 yards and 49 yards, the second of which came in the fourth quarter and helped put the Jets away for good.
Coaching: I placed a lot of blame on the coaching staff for the Raiders collapse in week two. Likewise, I have to give the Raiders coaching staff a lot of credit for not only getting this team ready to play in week three, but also for making the mid game adjustments necessary to win after falling behind by ten points and losing Marcel Reece and Michael Huff to injuries early in the game. If not for the fact that Bresnahan's defense is still giving up way too many yards, the Raiders coaching staff would be getting an A+.
Overall: The Raiders bounced back from a terrible loss in week two, that easily could have set the tone for the rest of the season. The way that the Raiders lost to the Bills was embarrassing and painful, but the team did not allow that to change the way they played at home against the Jets. Bullying the biggest bully in the NFL deserves high marks.
Next up, the New England Patriots. It will be interesting to see if the Raiders high octane offense will be able to keep up with Tom Brady in a year that he is on pace to shatter the single season passing record. The Raiders secondary had better be ready.