The 2018 NFL International Series kicked off when Oakland Raiders kicker Matt McCrane sent the ball high into charcoal skies brimming with rain, and the farce began.
The Seattle Seahawks, to their credit, looked really good.
The Oakland Raiders did not.
A 27-3 final score painted the grim picture for Raiders fans, with the UK faithful surely bemoaning Jon Gruden’s ten year contract late into the night.
Here are the five things we learned from the game:
Jon Gruden is very sure how he wants to play the game of football
We thought we knew what Gruden might do before the season, and we’ve been proven right. A reluctance to push the ball downfield, instead a commitment to establishing the running game and hitting short routes designed to bring profit after the catch. Neither worked. The Raiders comprehensively failed to surprise the Seahawks on first down throughout the evening; Lynch off the right tackle, Lynch with a misdirection, screen to Lynch. It was woeful. Gruden opted to kick a field goal in the fourth quarter down 27, which may have been the final straw for many Silver and Black fans.
After the game Gruden was quoted as saying:
We were trying to score points. We were trying to move the ball. We got the ball. We wanted to run three consecutive times… We wanted to run three different types of runs and all three of them were rejected.
Derek Carr loves the short stuff
Derek Carr attempted one (o-n-e) deep pass on Sunday. An attempt to land the ball in the bucket of Martavis Bryant came up empty, as the receiver failed to gain any kind of separation. A young Seahawks secondary is worth testing, and Carr’s inability to do so will leave Raiders fans scratching their heads.
Gruden went on to say:
Well, it really wasn’t close today. You know, we didn’t get an opportunity to step up in the pocket and go through progressions. It was closing in quick. You know, Derek [Carr] was on the run a lot and he got hit too much. We can’t allow that to happen. We just can’t do it.
The Seahawks' offensive line is now capable
The unit will face tougher tests than Oakland, but Seahawks will be beaming from ear to ear after Sunday’s display. Keeping Russell Wilson upright, the offensive line also did a stellar job of forging lanes for Mike Davis and Chris Carson.
Pete Carroll lavished praise on the once dysfunctional group in the post-game press conference:
We don’t mind saying we’re going to run the football. And we like to be the most physical running team in this league, and we’ll keep going after that. We don’t know what that is, but that’s the intention, keep pounding the football.
Chris Carson and Mike Davis could become one of the most feared backfield duos in the league
Never mind that the Seahawks used their 2018 first round draft pick on a running back, Chris Carson is doing the business for Seattle at present. Receiving the lions’ share of handoffs, Mike Davis was a superb reliever. Clutch on third down, the Seahawks were able to move the ball down the field thanks in large part to the work of Davis and Carson.
NFL fans in Europe are loving the sport more than ever
An announced attendance of 84,922 set a record for an NFL game at Wembley, with most of that number making their voices heard for the Seahawks. In conversations before the game, I was told by a member of a media institution that the upcoming Jacksonville Jaguars an Philadelphia Eagles Wembley encounter had received more ticket demand than any other game in the United States this year!
Pete Carroll felt it too, saying:
Well, it’s obvious that the people here love football. I mean, you can’t turn out like that. That’s an incredible crowd. It’s a big crowd. Maybe the biggest crowd we’ve played in front of. I don’t know. It’s a huge crowd. But they had a blast.