Andria’s Analysis this week takes a look at the week 3 matchup between the Oakland Raiders and the Washington Redskins.
It was a tough week for Raider Nation. Not only was it the first loss of the season, but it was also a loss that was largely unexpected. In the wake of a massive, non-football related controversy, the Raiders and Redskins teams each decided to show their solidarity by linking arms and being one during the anthem. It was not a surprise that the men all bonded together during the situation. It was what happened after that was the biggest shock of the day.
Going into Sunday Night Football, the Raiders were favored to win this game by a rather heavy margin. Not only do they have the superior offensive unit between the teams on paper, but the matchup between the offense and the Redskins’ defense was simply a mismatch. It seemed like an easy win for the would-be kings.
That was exactly the thinking that put the first nail in the coffin of the Raiders.
After watching Derek Carr throw an uncharacteristic interception on the first possession, Oakland as a whole held their breath. They would keep holding their breath until the closing seconds when they realized how lost the game was.
After one of the worst performances that the Raiders’ offense has put up in two seasons, questions abound about whether this is truly a championship team or was the 2016 campaign a fluke. Will Derek Carr be a $125 million mistake? Did the offensive line relax their coverage because of the protests? Are the Raiders done?
The answer is the same for all of these questions. No. It was one bad game in which the offense failed to launch. The defense, contrary to the critical rhetoric, played a decent game. The run defense did its job all night. The pass defense struggled, but not as much as expected and certainly less than the offense did.
It was clear that Carr was off his game, but everyone has a bad day, even a $125 million man. Carr is still the superstar quarterback who’s bringing the team into the future. It was clear that he knew he was off when he took responsibility for the loss square on his shoulders.
— RaiderRamble.com™ (@TheRaiderRamble) September 25, 2017
A bigger concern was the receiver drops and the ineffective run game that Oakland put up. Amari Cooper was a different man in this game than he had been developing into towards the end of 2016, catching only 1 of 5 targets. If the coaches can reestablish his confidence, then that should be fixed going forward. However, Cooper has difficulty with the “diva” receiver mentality, which he could benefit from. It is not innate so it will have to be drilled into him, which Todd Downing and crew will hopefully work.
Michael Crabtree, who has been a very dependable target for Derek Carr, was targeted three times and made only one reception. He was walloped in the ribs during one target, sending him out of the game and making him questionable for the upcoming week versus Denver.
On top of all that, the run game, which has been a bright spot for the Raiders throughout the first two weeks, was impotent. They looked like the weak running game from 2014, not the elite Beast Mode-led three-headed monster that the team has developed.
Regardless of fault or reason, it is time for the Raiders to move on to the next opponent. It is a big one. The Denver Broncos have spent all season trying to prove the critics wrong, myself included. However, always give credit where credit is due, the Broncos have earned it. They came out like a shot in week one, defeating their division rival LA Chargers in a nail-biter that was decided by a field goal in the waning seconds of the game. Week 2 they handed out a loss to the Dallas Cowboys. With authority, I might add. The Cowboys have been in the Superbowl conversation as long as the Raiders have, so that was a difficult and unexpected feat, but the Broncos did it.
Given the challenges for the Raiders against a much less effective defense than Denver, much work needs to be done this week to elicit the spark that they need to put up points and neutralize the Broncos’ much more superior defensive unit. The Broncos are coming off of their first loss of the season as well, so this will be an unprecedented task for the 2017 season. The Raiders have often been up to that task under Coach Del Rio, so it is very reasonable to believe that they will be able to march into Mile High Stadium and reclaim their greatness. If the work is done and Carr and Co. make a comeback like they are known for doing, they will back in the discussion come Monday.