Photo courtesy of footballsfuture.com
By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
OAKLAND — After falling to the Jets, 19-14 in New York in Week 1, the Raiders look to rebound Sunday when they host the Houston Texans at O.co Coliseum in Oakland’s home opener at 1:25 p.m.
Making his first career start in the NFL, rookie quarterback Derek Carr played pretty well, but not well enough to help the Raiders start the 2014 season on a winning note.
Carr threw for 151 yards on 20-of-32 passing, with two touchdowns with a passer rating of 94.7. Carr looked poised for much of the game, throwing the ball with no hesitation while making sound decisions.
Oakland may have a rising star in wide receiver Rod Streater.
Even though Streater had 46 yards receiving, I thought the team-leading five catches and his12-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter was most important. Carr seems to trust Streater, which will be important for both Carr’s and Streater’s continued growth.
What Carr didn’t get was help from the running game and against a team that has a stud defensive end like Houston has in J.J. Watt, you are going to need help from your running backs. The running game which was looked upon as a possible strength of the team’s, has got to be a factor on Sunday.
Oakland only mustered 26 rushing yards from the tandem of Darren McFadden and Maurice Jones-Drew. Jones-Drew led the team with nine carries, but injured his hand Sunday and didn’t finish the game. A source told Comcast SportsNet’s Fallon Smith that Jones-Drew underwent a procedure to repair the injury.
According to the Bay Area News Group’s Jerry McDonald, Jones-Drew didn’t practice Wednesday and his status for Sunday’s home opener remains in question.
Defensively, I thought that Oakland played admirably. Outside of Chris Ivory’s back-breaking 71-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter to ice the game, Oakland’s defense played tough on Jets quarterback Geno Smith.
Free safety Charles Woodson recorded an interception that led to an early touchdown, while linebacker Sio Moore was all over the field with a team-leading 15 solo tackles, and one of Oakland’s two sacks. Strong safety Tyvon Branch had the other sack.
But Houston is coming to the Black Hole looking to spoil the home opener, while trying to avenge their 28-23 loss to Oakland last season at Reliant Stadium.
Houston (1-0) won their home opener last week ,14-6 over Washington behind their defense, particularly Watt. The Texans sacked quarterback Robert Griffin three times, and recovered two fumbles. Watt recorded one of each to go along with three tackles.
Cornerback Johnathan Joseph finished with a team-leading 11 solo tackles, while strong safety D.J. Swearinger (1 sack) and cornerback Kareem Jackson finished tied with six tackles. Linebacker Brooks Reed had five tackles, while recording a sack.
Offensively, Houston has weapons and Raiders defensive guru Jason Tarver is going to have his work cut out for him in slowing down the Texans.
Fitzpatrick threw for 206 yards on 14-of-22 passes (109.3 passer rating), including a 76-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver, DeAndre Hopkins in the second quarter. Hopkins finished with four catches and 89 yards receiving, while the ageless wonder Andre Johnson led Houston with six catches and 93 yards receiving (15.5 yards per catch).
Oakland’s cornerbacks Terrell Brown and Carlos Rogers are battle tested, but will need to play smart and aggressive if they are going to slow down Houston’s duo.
Running back Arian Foster appears to be healthy again, after missing the majority of last season with a back injury. Foster rushed for 103 yards on 27 carries against Washington.
Next week, Oakland will pack their bags for 11 days, heading to New England to take on the Patriots, before flying over to London (a home game sadly), to take on the Miami Dolphins the following week.
Houston faces the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium in Week 3.
Players to Watch:
Houston: It’s a no brainer that you want to watch Watt. At 6’5″ and 289 lbs, Watt is just a freak of nature that has an active motor on every down. With 37.5 career sacks, their is no question that Watt gets to the quarterback. Carr must make sure that he knows where No. 99 is at at all times.
Oakland: Streater is the man that Oakland has to get involved early. In last year’s meeting against Houston, Streater had six catches for 84 yards receiving, including an 18-yard touchdown catch.