Oakland Raiders Keys To Success: Tennessee Titans
Andrew Flores – Nov 25, 2015
Let’s forget about the record and let’s forget about last week’s loss because that is what the Raiders will have to do this week. The Raiders need to focus on this week. The Raiders need to approach the rest of the season one game at a time. It’s often what you’ll hear when you listen to the best coaches in the NFL. This week the Raiders will face the Tennessee Titans. The Titans are undergoing a rebuild and in analyzing the Titans they compare well to last year’s Raiders. The Titans have lost 10 consecutive home games, and are pretty much out of the playoff conversation. But they have some young talent and a dynamic rookie quarterback, so the Raiders will need to look past the Titans’ 2-8 record. While this is one of the easier games on the schedule, the Raiders look like a team that has had their confidence shattered. They played a largely uninspired game on Sunday and while many have questioned defensive coordinator Ken Norton Jr. The Raider's offense was the real issue on Sunday. This is cause for concern as this team has talent to be elite.
This Titans team will play the Raiders hard as they will be motivated to get a win at home. The Titans offense has struggled as they currently have the 30th ranked offense. The Titans’ run game has improved with Antonio Andrews, but his 3.3 yards per carry is unimpressive. That said the Titans will try to impose their will on the Raiders as teams have run the ball well against them recently. Defensively the Titans have excelled at pressuring the quarterback and will look to hurry Carr.
Offensively the keys for this Titans team are quarterback Marcus Mariota, tight-end Delanie Walker, and receivers Kendall Wright and Dorial Green-Beckham. While Mariota’s numbers have not been stellar, the rookie has been impressive. He has displayed his incredible accuracy time and time again this season. Mariota is a dynamic playmaker and a rare athlete. Watching Mariota you see a player that has a tendency to use his athleticism to extend plays. While he hasn't used his athleticism often this year, the Raiders will need to be aware of it at all times. Mariota often reacts to pressure by using his athleticism to extend the play while keeping his eyes downfield.
Tight-end Delanie Walker will be an impact player. He has quickly established himself as Mariota's security blanket, and he currently leads the Titans in receptions, yards and touchdowns. He is a solid pass-blocker and the Titans could use him to try and protect Mariota as they have struggled to keep their quarterback upright.
As for the Titans' receivers Kendall Wright is the Titans best receiver but he may not be the most talented. Wright's status will be worth monitoring as he has been hampered by a knee injury and did miss the last 3 games, due to that injury. Wright is an excellent route runner and may challenge the Raiders as his play is eerily similar to that of Antonio Brown. Wright like Brown is shifty in space, has excellent speed, and great hands. Wright is also versatile and can line up outside or in the slot depending on how the offense chooses to utilize him.
Finally let's turn to Dorial Green-Beckham. The rookie is very raw as a route runner and still has a ways to go before he becomes an elite receiver. Beckham drew comparisons to Calvin Johnson during the draft process and they were warranted as from a physical atandpoint this kid is a Calvin Johnson clone. Beckham is a matchup nightmare and while he hasn't seen the field much his 2 touchdowns show he can be an impact player. The Titans could choose to test the Raiders' secondary with Beckham as they did give him some oppourtunites against the Jaguars.
The Titans' defense does not have many big names, but the names to watch are Brian Orakpo and Jurrell Casey. Orakpo has reestablished himself as a dominant pass-rusher this season and has 7 sacks this season. Casey is interesting because he has experience at defensive tackle and the Titans could look to use him there on Sunday, as the Raiders could be without center Rodney Hudson again. Even if the Titans do not move him to exploit this Casey is a dominant defensive lineman as shown by his 5 sacks. Expect the Titans to pressure Carr consistently on Sunday.
The Raiders offense has struggled and offensive coordinator Bill Musgrave's play calling is a cause for concern. The Raiders offensive woes are not all a result of Musgrave's poor play calling. Sloppy execution has been an issue and Rodney Hudson's injury added to the issues. Regardless the Raiders have one of the most talented units in the NFL. Quarterback Derek Carr has shown he is capable of playing at an elite level. Running back Latavius Murray has exceeded expectations. Receivers Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree have established themselves as one of the better receiver tandems in the league. And I haven't even mentioned my guy tight-end Clive Walford. Still the Raiders offense has struggled and if Sunday brings another poor outing, the Raiders will need to evaluate whether Musgrave is the answer going forward. While I am not one to advocate rash changes, the offensive coordinator is vital to the development of the quarterback and if Musgrave does not definitively prove that he can be the guy. The Raiders need to move on after the season.
Defensively the Raiders performed well on Sunday. Rookie and preseason standout Ben Heeney finally got his chance and stood out securing his first sack. Benson Mayowa was another standout and he was relentless in his pursuit of Stafford. Ken Norton Jr. did an excellent job of harrassing quarterback Matthew Stafford. The Raiders 4 sacks were impressive especially when you consider that they managed to do this after losing an elite talent in Aldon Smith. This week the Raiders will need to pressure Mariota early and often while Mariota excels at extending plays, he tends to get sloppy with his footwork when he is hurried. So pressure very well could be the key on Sunday.
Sunday's game could easily be the turning point in this season. While the Raiders are coming off of 3 losses, a win Sunday could restore this team's confidence and really change the momentum of this season.
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