The Raiders head to the Sunshine State in search of their first taste of victory in Jon Gruden’s second stint as head coach.
As the Raiders head to South Beach, they will be desperate to avoid a 0-3 start. Let’s take a look at three things the Raiders need to improve on in order to come away with the win on Sunday, including getting Marshawn Lynch more carries:
1. A Full Game by the Defense
The Raiders defense has struggled in the second half of both games this year. Some might say it was due to the offense not controlling the ball. Signs were evident last week, as early as the start of the third quarter, that Oakland’s defense was getting gashed as the Broncos waltzed in for a touchdown on the opening drive after halftime. The Raiders need to ensure that they can rotate enough players on the defensive line to generate some sort of pass rush to get to Ryan Tannehill, but their main task is going to be stopping the Dolphins run game which has been their primary weapon on offense. Additionally, there can be no penalties such as the unsportsmanlike conduct call against Bruce Irvin which gave the Broncos an automatic first down last week after the Raiders held on third down. This resulted in a touchdown as opposed to keeping the Broncos to just a field goal. In a game of inches, the Raiders can’t afford to get in their own way of success.
2. The Offense (and Special Teams) Needs to Finish
The Raiders offense stumbled in the fourth quarter, but there was plenty to build upon moving forward into this week. Should it occur again, they must convert on fourth down to keep the chains moving late in the game, whilst they can’t afford any penalties to keep them off schedule in the 4-minute drill closing out a game. Special teams also had a fourth quarter to forget, with Johnny Townsend kicking his final punt into the end zone instead of kicking it deep down the sideline, resulting in significantly less yardage the Broncos needed to attain in order to get into their game-winning field goal range.
Get Marshawn Lynch more involved
In Week 1, it was Jared Cook. Week 2 saw Amari Cooper take flight. This week it needs to be Lynch. The numbers on Lynch this season aren’t as impressive as the game film suggests, though he had one big run wiped out last week due to an unnecessary holding penalty on Seth Roberts. If the Raiders can get Lynch a few more carries (up to 20) this week, the Raiders will be able to open up the defense for play action passes even more. Given that Derek Carr went 9 of 10 for 110 yards and a touchdown off of play action last week, this is something the Raiders need to incorporate more of, and getting Lynch more touches will only help that.