This week’s tragedy with former Las Vegas Raiders wide receiver Henry Ruggs III may have weighed on the collective mind of the team as they dropped to 5-3 on the season after a 23-16 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday. While most of the Raiders takeaways from this won aren’t positive, there were some bright spots.
The Raiders, riding a two-game winning streak and coming off the near-perfect performance of quarterback Derek Carr, struggled all day on offense committing too many turnovers, missing two chip-shot field goals, and performing abysmally in the red zone. Derek Carr wasn’t his usual self and his receivers didn’t make it any easier. The good news: the Raiders defense played well — sans being gashed yet again for a ton of rushing yards.
Here are 4 Raiders takeaways from the disappointing road loss on Sunday.
Raiders takeaways #1: The Raiders run defense isn’t getting any better
The New York Giants run the ball as well as a hip replacement recipient just out of the operating room. Yet, despite the Giants ineptness in running the ball, they were able to gash the Las Vegas defense to the tune of 149 yards. The Raiders defense, while effective in the pass rush and even in coverage, just isn’t getting any better against the run. If they have any plans to make a serious playoff push, and go deep into the playoffs, something will have to improve. If not, it could be impossible for this team to get enough wins to make it into the tournament on the AFC side.
Raiders takeaways #2: Derek Carr had a bad day
Any talk of Derek Carr having an “MVP-like” season should be over now. Not because Carr can’t or won’t bounce back, but a week like had in New York all but disqualifies you for running in the MVP race. Yet that’s not Carr’s goal. Carr’s goal is to get the Raiders into the playoffs. After a near-perfect performance against the Eagles in Week 7 before the bye, Carr took much longer to get rid of the ball all day and was just off hitting his receivers. Yes, there were drops but Carr’s two picks — including a pick-six —and his fumble all but serve as evidence he just wasn’t at his best in New York. He finished the day going 30-of-46 for 296 yards and just one touchdown — the Raiders only on the day. While many will say it was the emotional week around the Ruggs tragedy, Carr refused the notion saying it was execution more than anything.
“You can’t turn the ball over,” Carr said after the game. “That’s why we lost the game.”
Raiders takeaways #3: Kenyan Drake is a key playmaker and has to be utilized each week
Yes, I’m back to tell you I told you so again about Kenyan Drake. Drake had another big day for the Raiders with 100 yards from scrimmage including 30 rushing and 70 receiving. Drake continues to be a dangerous weapon for the Raiders even in a loss. Without Drake, as Jacobs plays well in spots but continues to get injured, the Raiders would be in serious trouble on offense. They have to figure out a way to keep including him and use him even more.
Raiders takeaways #4: The Raiders need help at wide receiver
The Raiders did their best to elevate current roster players to fill the void left after the release of Ruggs, but only dependable veterans Hunter Renfrow and Darren Waller made a difference. The rest of the Raiders receiving corps (outside of Drake) struggled to get separation all day long. The Raiders have reportedly signed free agent speedster DeSean Jackson which should help significantly as they prepare for the Kansas City Chiefs. Still, second-year player Bryan Edwards must step up and the much-ballyhooed Zay Jones has to contribute as well.
Those are your key Raiders takeaways from Week 9 of the NFL season. The Raiders must get focused as they face AFC West Kansas City next Sunday in Las Vgeas.