The 2019 NFL season has been surprising, to say the least, and that is especially the case for the Oakland Raiders as they are enjoying a 3-2 record into their bye week.
After the Antonio Brown saga, many counted the Raiders out. Losing Jonathan Abram early only hurt their odds of success further. However, the Raiders have a winning record for the first time in two years and things are looking up.
A war chest of young talent has helped the Raiders find footing even when things have been rough. Josh Jacobs, for one, may be the most important player on the team right now. On top of that, veterans like Derek Carr and Darren Waller have stepped up as well.
According to Scott Blair of NBC Sports Bay Area, head coach Jon Gruden feels that the camaraderie amongst the team is something special:
“We’re building our team. That’s all I’m going to say,” Gruden said. “We’re not making any other statements other than that. We like the progress. We like the development of some young guys. I think our veteran leadership has been excellent.
“…I can’t say enough about the camaraderie that we have on the team and the guys that have stepped up. It’s fun to be around.”
The team’s last game against the Chicago Bears was an especially strong performance. Although they nearly gave up the lead towards the end, the Raiders pulled together to secure the victory. It is even more impressive considering that many players were injured during that game, including starting wide receiver Tyrell Williams and defensive end Clelin Ferrell.
Although no one receiver had a standout game, the group of wideouts pulled together for a strong performance. Rookie tight end Foster Moreau stepped up to lead the way with 46 receiving yards, including some big third down catches.
However, it was Jacobs who truly shined against the Bears. He notched his first game with over 100 rushing yards and also two touchdowns, including the game-winning score after a 97-yard drive led by Carr.
With the number of injuries the Raiders have had so far, Gruden has been pleased with the next man up mentality:
“Well we’ve had a lot of players play critical roles that maybe we didn’t think would play this substantial of a role this soon,” Gruden said. “I’m really proud of the development of some young players. Really pleased with our coaching staff, the job that they’ve done.
“But I’m proud of our team. We have a lot of respect for how far we have to go, but we’re making some progress.”
Certainly all Raiders fans are proud of the product they have put on the field so far this season. Even through adversity, the team has come out resilient and hopefully, they will be able to continue that momentum next week against the Houston Texans.