The Las Vegas Raiders (5-4) had a massive opportunity to take control of the AFC West as they hosted the Kansas City Chiefs (6-4) at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday Night Football. Instead of taking advantage of that opportunity, the Raiders played an uneven and uninspired game for the second-straight week in a 41-14 loss to the Chiefs.
Still reeling from the loss of their head coach Jon Gruden, who resigned after racist, homophobic and misogynistic emails were discovered and the loss of receiver Henry Ruggs to an off-the-field tragedy, the Raiders suddenly seem like a team in decline with fans expecting another second-half collapse.
Here are 4 takeaways from the Raiders crushing loss at home to Kansas City.
Raiders offense isn’t the same without Ruggs
There’s nothing the Raiders can do to undo the poor and tragic life choice of Henry Ruggs III. But their offense doesn’t look the same without him and continue to struggle. Derek Carr doesn’t look the same without opposing defenses stretched deep and the non-existent running game is still MIA. Entering their final mop-up possession late in the fourth quarter, the Raiders had just 10 first downs on the night. They were 1-of-8 on 3rd downs (13%) and held the ball just over 23 minutes compared to almost 34 for the Chiefs. Without Ruggs, without a consistent offensive line, the Las Vegas offense just didn’t get it done. Injuries and roster losses have finally caught up with Las Vegas and they’re going to have to find another gear if they want to avoid the now patent Raiders back-half swoon.
Although improved, Raiders defense is showing it’s anything but consistent
We all know the Las Vegas defense has been poor against the run. Against the Chiefs, Gus Bradley’s guys were a step slow from the get-go. Unable to find a way to stop both Travis Kelce and Tyreek Hill, the Raiders yielded five touchdowns and 406 yards passing to Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs must have thought they were scrimmaging a high school squad. The Raiders also gave up 119 yards receiving to Kelce and another 101 yards to Damian Williams — the Chiefs running back. They had no answer at all to anything the Chiefs schemed up. It’s the type of game, as a defensive coach, you just delete the video. Nothing to learn from it. Yes, it was that bad.
Self-inflicted wounds do damage
The Raiders continue to show a lack of focus and discipline when it comes to presnap penalties on both sides of the ball. Vegas had six presnap penalties including several that killed offensive drives or kept them alive for the Chiefs. Even late in the game, when Darren Waller caught a garbage-time TD, right tackle Brandon Parker was called for a hold negating the score. Despite the admirable leadership of interim coach Rich Bisaccia, the lack of focus and leadership to get this team where it needs to be is evident. There’s still plenty of football left, but it’s hard to see this team keeping it together and going on a run toward the playoffs.
The Raiders now sit one game above .500 just over halfway through the season. Can they turn it all around in the remaining eight weeks? It’s a tough hill to climb but it doesn’t look promising.