After a 2-0 start, the Oakland Raiders continue to go backwards and lose a close game to the lowly Los Angeles Chargers.
Late in their 17-16 loss to the NFL’s most disorganized, laughingstock of a team, the Raiders defense fought valiantly. Although the Chargers successfully drove to set up the game-winning field goal, the Raiders defensive squad wasn’t perfect but it sure did all it could to keep them in the game.
It was the Raiders offense – one that finished last season near the top of the league – that continues to falter. Rushing back quarterback Derek Carr, and getting a better performance from Marshawn Lynch, the offense could never find a true rhythm and failed too often and sometimes in confusing ways.
Carr, courageously coming back after three fractures in his back that kept him out of last week’s loss, just wasn’t himself. While he had two touchdown passes, he also threw two costly interceptions and his throws often missed their targets. Coupled with some drops, the passing game has regressed and the Raiders keep losing.
Here’s three key observations from the Raiders crushing loss at home to the Chargers:
Carr Isn’t Carr.
Derek Carr is a gamer and gamers sometimes aren’t ready to return even though they are cleared to do so. Recovering – still – from last year’s broken leg, coupled with the back injury, he’s just not been himself. He seems uneasy in the pocket, especially when it collapses around him. Where last year he would scramble free in some situations, this year you are not seeing that. Carr also is not throwing as accurately as Raider Nation is used to. Against the Chargers, we could 5-6 times open receivers were missed with throws either too out in front or way behind them. Yes, there were bad drops but Carr is missing throws we’re used to see him make. He’s still an elite quarterback but you have to wonder if injury, and the team’s current slide, are impacting him mentally.
Raiders Defense Continues to Grind.
The defense did give up 343 yards to Philip Rivers and the Chargers, but it also shut down the Los Angeles running game and came up big after two turnovers to hold the Chargers scoreless. Although the Chargers held the ball just four minutes more than the Raiders, the numerous long possessions wore down the Raiders. Yet, this defense, like in previous weeks, kept the Raiders close but got no help from the offense. Much like a pitcher may keep a team in the game, they still have to have run support. Oakland’s offense is not firing on all cylinders which is contributing greatly to this losing streak.
We don’t go here often but the offensive playcalling has to be addressed. The Raiders came out running the ball well against the Chargers tough interior line, yet didn’t stay with it consistently. Oakland rushed for just 109 yards on the game. In addition, where is the play action pass for the Raiders? With the receiving corps, and with running backs good in open space, the Raiders and OC Todd Downing never go to it. With a recovering quarterback, why not give him that option to get the offense in a better rhythm. While we have never advocated the anger and sometimes ill-directed criticism of this coaching staff, everyone needs to be on notice with the way the season has gone.What’s the solution? That’s what Head Coach Jack Del Rio will need to decide leading up to a very tough and now a must-win game on a short week against Kansas City.
Perhaps all of the wheels haven’t come off yet, but it’s getting pretty close. The Raiders are driving on three flat tires and they’re running out of gas if the playoffs are still a possibility for them in 2017. Not one person or one facet of the game is to blame. There’s lots of people in the Raiders organization that need to take the long look in the mirror and decide where they go moving forward.
One thing is certain: continuing down its current path, this team is about to go off a cliff from which there is no return.