The Raiders beat the Cowboys in a must-win game on Thursday to snap a three-game losing streak and vault back into the playoff picture.
Their relieved fans, though, are left with plenty of questions.
Here is a sampling of what arrived in this week’s mailbag:
Howie Al’Thor (@Bo_McLovin): Having the Raiders’ quarterback position play aggressively from here on out, is that sustainable?
VINCENT BONSIGNORE: It’s really a must. The Raiders are at their best when attacking opponents downfield. It felt like that was put to the side immediately after the Henry Ruggs situation. The Raiders spent the next few weeks getting his replacement, DeSean Jackson, acclimated to the offense after signing him on Nov. 8th.
But as we saw on Thursday against the Cowboys, Jackson is much more comfortable in the Raiders’ offense. He had three receptions for 102 yards and a touchdown while also forcing three pass interference calls.
The aggressive throws to Jackson, coupled with some big ones to fellow speedster Zay Jones, put the Cowboys on their heels. It also opened things up for everyone else.
Hunter Renfrow had a huge game with eight catches for 134 yards. The run game got unleashed for 143 yards on 35 carries as the Raiders racked up 509 yards of total offense.
That has to be the recipe moving forward.
firstname.lastname@example.org (@mmanmanmojunoc1): Why don’t the Raiders open Richie Incognito’s spot for an extra tight end or lineman?
VB: Richie Incognito, the Raiders’ injured left guard, has been on the injured reserve list all season. His spot on the team does not count on the 53-man roster, so he isn’t preventing the Raiders from making any roster additions.,
Dave Ellis (@DaveEllis540): What happened on the kickoff returned for the touchdown? Did Daniel Carlson purposely kick it short? That seems to happen at least once per game. Just trying to understand if it’s purposeful.
VB: Not sure whether it was by strategy or Carlson just missing it. For perspective, though, on the Raiders’ kickoff in overtime, Carlson said the plan was for him to kick it out of the end zone. But he left it short. The Raiders’ coverage team responded by making the tackle at the 13-yard-line. After an illegal block penalty, the Cowboys began that drive at their 7-yard line.
Sometimes it works out even when it doesn’t go as planned.
Crom (@hailcrom1982): Why didn’t the Raiders take a timeout at the end of the first half? Why didn’t they attempt to take some shots downfield to at least get a field goal before the half? Is Rich Bisaccia working on time management?
VB: With 25 seconds left in the half, the Raiders led 17-13 when they began that drive at their own 25-yard-line. They were also slated to get the ball to start the second half.
With the lead and knowing they would open the third quarter with the ball, the last thing they want to do is make a critical mistake that might lead to a score for the opponent, especially playing on the road.
Could they have taken a big shot downfield? No doubt. But the possibility of throwing an interception or, worse, getting a strip sack that would have given the Cowboys great field position for another score was deemed too big a risk.
Raider4life (@Raiders4life77): Why is the Raiders’ offense so predictable and can’t get creative with the play calling?
VB: This question was certainly valid in the three games ahead of the Thanksgiving Day matchup with the Cowboys, when the Raiders seemed listless and unimaginative in three straight losses. But the Raiders did a good job of opening things back up in the win over the Cowboys. They were in perpetual attack mode.
That needs to be the Raiders’ offensive model moving forward.
B Del (@BDel99): Who’s handling special teams duties now that Rich Bisaccia is the head coach? Since he took over, special teams seem to be giving up big returns, fakes etc., etc.
VB: Rich Bisaccia still handles special teams coaching duties. That unit struggled at times during the recent three-game losing streak. But aside from the 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown they surrendered against the Cowboys, they played one of their best games of the season on Thursday.
That needs to continue.