Two free agents who came up big for the Raiders in game one


One of the big stories from the big win on Sunday for the Oakland Raiders was the fact that one of their key free agent signings, Sean Smith, was benched early in the second half of the game. A lot was made of the fact that a guy Oakland spent a lot of money on was replaced in the first game of the year and with the guy he was brought in to replace. But what was lost in the many story lines of that incredible win was the fact that two of the other key free agent signings had great days for the Silver and Black.

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Both Bruce Irvin and Kelechi Osemele came up huge for the Raiders in week one.

Irvin’s impact was felt right away as he recorded a strip sack on Drew Brees on the first drive of the game. That play resulted in three points for the Raiders and an early lead. Irvin would have had another sack if not for the fact that it was negated by a flag on a phantom hold in the secondary. What would have been two sacks is a pretty good game against a guy like Drew Brees who does an excellent job of avoiding pressure by getting rid of the ball quickly. Unfortunately for the Raiders, Irvin was almost literally the only person getting consistent pressure on the quarterback. Of the four quarterback hits on Brees, three are credited to Irvin.

Meanwhile, Osemele showed why he earned a massive contract in free agency. Thpugh he has spent time at tackle, Osemele is seen as an elite guard, so that is where the Raiders wanted to play him. But when both Menelik Watson and Matt McCants went down with injuries, and with Austin Howard already sidelined with an injury the Raiders had to ask Osemele to play tackle once again and he responded.

They moved Osemele out to left tackle, moved Donald Penn to right tackle and brought John Feliciano in to play guard. Despite the patchwork nature of the line at that point, the Raiders were still able to pull off a win, in large part due to a strong performance from that line. And for his part, Osemele kept Carr clean so he could lead the Raiders to a come from behind win.

While it’s understandable how much attention is being paid to the Sean Smith situation, it’s also important to note that overall, the 2016 free agent class for the Raiders had a very good Sunday. If Irvin and Osemele continue to play this well for the rest of the season, it will be hard to look at this free agent class as anything but a success.

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