Looking at the matchup between the Oakland Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars, you would have to wonder what the NFL scheduling committee thought as they realized this match would have to happen this year. Both franchises have a well-documented history of ineptitude when it comes to drawing fans to their home games. According to the New York Times, the Raiders were well on their way to their 95th blackout since moving back to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995, but Terrell Pryor has given fans of the Silver and Black something to cheer about and a reason to show up to O.Co coliseum.
Pryor rushed for the most yards of any quarterback last week and his rushing total was only surpassed by the rushing total of LeSean McCoy against a porous Redskins defense. Pryor had two costly interceptions against the Indianapolis Colts last week, but the Raiders only lost by four points, on the road, to a team that made the playoffs in 2012.
Darren McFadden rushed 17 times for 48 yards and a score; he also was unable to drag both feet on a perfectly placed ball by Pryor for his second score of the game. McFadden has a history of being injured, but when he is healthy, he can be a top five running back in the NFL. Flashes of brilliance don’t begin to describe the greatness that Raiders fans have seen in McFadden, which only amplifies their angst and frustration when he is unable to suit up and help the team by making defenses honest and having to respect the run game.
Rod Streater caught seven balls for 70 yards and Denarius Moore added five catches and a touchdown to make sure the game stayed close.
Andrew Luck and the Colts defense were just a little too much for the Raiders to handle, but there were glimpses of excitement and hope for a franchise that has been the laughing stock of the NFL since their last Super Bowl appearance in 2002.
There are not a lot of games that match up this well for the Raiders, but Jacksonville might be the worst team in the NFL, and the Raiders need to make sure, much like every other team in the NFL, that they beat the teams they are supposed to beat.
The Raiders need to establish the run game against the Jaguars in order to open up the pass game. Basic fundamentals. If the Jaguars have to respect the passing attack, they cannot treat McFadden like he is Adrian Peterson and stuff right in the box. The only way to get the passing attack going is by establishing the running game with McFadden and Marcel Reese.
This is one of the games where the Raiders can look like they have multiple Pro Bowl players on their roster because the Jaguars simply have no answers for most NFL teams this season. Starting quarterback, Blaine Gabbert, is out with a laceration on his throwing hand that required 15 stitches to close, so former Miami Dolphins quarterback, Chad Henne gets the nod at quarterback. Maurice Jones-Drew will get the start at running back, but with no wide receivers or tight ends to take the pressure off the run game, there will likely be no running lanes for the former northern California star running back to get through.
At the end of the day, Raiders fans should be thrilled that they get to watch a game like this in person or on television because judging by last week, the Raiders may be significantly better than they appeared to be before the season started.